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Paths and Rights of Way | Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council Rights and Responsibilities

Cornwall Council, as the Highways Authority, is responsible for the management of public rights of way in Cornwall, these responsibilities include:

  • Asserting and protecting the public's rights to use public rights of way;
  • Maintaining the surface of the highway, which includes a duty to control natural surface vegetation, so that it is suitable for passage on foot or on horse depending on the status of the path. This is distinct from cultivated crops which is the responsibility of the landowner (please see cropping-on-public-rights-of-way/" title="Ploughing and Cropping a public right of way">Ploughing and Cropping on Public Rights of Way
). It is the landowner or occupier's responsibility to control side and overhead vegetation from inhibiting the use of public rights of way;
  • Maintaining bridges over natural water courses such as streams and rivers, including farm ditches (if present when the public right of way was first recorded);
  • Maintaining signposts where public rights of way leave metalled roads and to signpost and waymark public rights of way as appropriate;
  • Reimbursing parish and town councils where they undertake the maintenance of public rights of way on behalf of the Council (please see (Local Maintenance Partnership (LMP);
  • Making a minimum 25 percent contribution as way of a grant to farmers and other landowners towards the costs in maintaining approved stiles and gates on public rights of way (please see guidance-note-for-landowners-and-users/" title="Landowner's Guide to Gates and Stiles">Gates and Stiles Guidance Note for Landowners and Users
  • );
  • Administering the law concerning Rights of Way and ensuring that the gates and stiles can be used by the public;
  • Keeping the Definitive Map and Statement under continuous review and available for public inspection;
  • To remove obstructions.
  • To report an issue on a public right of way in Cornwall to the Countryside Service please use Reporting issues on footpaths, bridleways and byways


    The Law for Farmers (The Rights of Way Act 1990) Ploughing and Cultivating

    You must not plough or disturb the surface of:

    • Cross-field footpaths and bridleways that you can conveniently avoid;
    • Footpaths or bridleways at the edge of the field and;
    • Byways open to all traffic.

    Image showing a good example of a ploughed field of which the headland path has been kept clear for walkers.

    The photo shows a good example of a ploughed field of which the headland path has been kept clear for walkers.

    You may plough or disturb the surface of a footpath or bridleway that crosses a field if it is not convenient to avoid it when sowing or cultivating a crop. But you must then make sure that:

    • The surface is made good, to at least the minimum width, so that it is reasonably convenient to use and;
    • The line is apparent on the ground, to at least the minimum width, to anyone using it.

    Image showing a ploughed field where the headland path has not been re-instated.

    This must be done within:

    • 14 days of the first disturbance for that crop and;
    • 24 hours of any second or subsequent disturbance, unless a longer period has first been agreed, in writing, by the Highway Authority.

    You may also disturb a footpath or bridleway during an excavation or engineering operation, but only if you first get written permission from the Highway Authority.

    The photo shows a ploughed field where the headland path has not been re-instated.


    You must not allow crops, other than grass, to grow on or overhang the minimum width of any footpath, bridleway or byway, so as to in-convenience the public or prevent the line of the Right of Way from being apparent on the ground.

    Minimum/Maximum widths

    If the width of a path is recorded on the Definitive Statement, then that is the minimum width. If the width is not recorded then 'minimum/maximum' width means:

    • For a footpath, a minimum of 1 metre across the field and 1.5 metres on the field edge (1.8 metres maximum);
    • For a bridleway, a minimum of 2 metres across the field, 3 metres on the field edge (3 metres maximum);
    • For a byway, a minimum of 3 metres across the field, 3 metres on the field edge (5 metres maximum).

    Image showing example of crops where the line of the path has not been left clear or re-instated

    These widths apply only to the law on ploughing and cultivation. They are the minimum you must comply with if you are to avoid action being taken against you. They do not affect other aspects of the law on public paths and do not limit the public's established rights of passage in any way.

    The image (right) shows an example of a field that has been cropped and the line of path has not been left clear. This will be classed as an obstruction.

    Keep within the Law

    The Highway Authority will take action against you if you fail to do so. It can:

    • Prosecute you and/or;
    • Enter onto your land, carry out the works it thinks are necessary (sometimes to a wider 'maximum width') and recover the costs from you.

    Photo of a field of maize where the line of the path has been kept clear

    Any person can bring a prosecution against you if you fail to keep a footpath, bridleway or other right of way clear of crops.

    The image (left) shows a good example of a field of maize where the line of the path which crosses the field has been cleared of crops.

    For further information please see Public Rights of Way Reinstatement After Cultivation Guidance Notes for Landowners and Users.

    If you are the occupier it is your responsibility to comply with the law regardless of who carried out the work for you.

    To report a problem, such as ploughing and cropping obstructions, please use the link below: cropping-on-public-rights-of-way/

    Definitive Map and Statement

    Powered by Google Translate Translate

    For further assistance and guidance using the register, please see the application-register-help/" title="Definitive Map Modification Order Application Register Help">DMMO Register Help

    page. The priorisation of applications is in line with the statement/" title="Cornwall Council Modification Order Revised Policy Statement">Cornwall Council Revised Policy Statement 2006.

    Important - The relevant date for each of the former District Areas are shown in the links to the individual Definitive Statements below. As a result any changes that have been made by 'Legal Events' (generally Public Path Orders made under the Highways Act 1980 or the Town and Country Planning Act 1990) or Modification Orders which were confirmed after the relevant date will not be shown on the Definitive Map map sheets. The Definitive Map and Statement will be amended to reflect these changes when the Council next makes a 'Legal Event Modification Order' to implement the changes to the Map and Statement for that former District Area.

    However, paths that have been the subject of a 'Legal Event' or a confirmed Modification Order will be amended (subject to a short delay) on the Council's Public%20Rights%20of%20Way" target="_blank" title="public rights of way nteractive mapping: opens in a new window">Public Rights of Way interactive mapping

    . This is not the legal record of public rights of way and should not be treated as such but provides up to date information about the path network.

    The Definitive Map map sheets are available through the Definitive%20map%20map%20sheets" target="_blank" title="definitive map interactive mapping: opens in a new window">Definitive Map interactive mapping

    and are an electronic version (in pdf format) of this legal record. For further information and advice please see Viewing Cornwall's Definitive Map Online page.

    The Definitive Statement is a matching series of written statements that describe the ways shown on the maps:

    It may be that there are additional rights over ways that are recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement (e.g. a footpath ought to be recorded as a bridleway). Likewise, routes that are currently not recorded as rights of way may be added to the Definitive Map (e.g. a footpath that is not recorded as a public rights of way ought to be recorded). In both cases the Council will only be able to amend the Definitive Map and Statement if evidence is presented to the Council as part of an application for a Definitive Map Modification Order.

    In addition applications may be made for ways recorded on the Definitive Map to be deleted or downgraded, if the applicant can adequately demonstrate that what is presently recorded is not correct.

    Definitive Map extract

    Viewing and Purchasing Definitive Maps

    For statutory, legal or formal purposes (such as planning applications) only the Definitive Map should be used to confirm the presence, location and status of public rights of way. If you wish to come and view the Definitive Map and Statement at the Truro One Stop Shop please contact us in advance so that the relevant maps may be located and an officer is available to assist you.

    Certified copies of extracts of the Definitive Map can be supplied by the Countryside Access Team and these may be purchased for the following fee:

    • A4 or A3 size copy - £32.25 including postage (duplicates may be ordered at any time at 25p per copy)

    The fee for the provision of a certified copy of an extract of the Definitive Map covers up to an hour of research and administration and includes copies of any orders that will have resulted in changes to the working copy of the Definitive Map through Creation, Diversion, Extinguishment, Town and Country Planning Act or Modification Orders after the relevant date that will not be shown on the Definitive Map extract itself. All certified copies will be supplied with an accompanying letter explaining the purpose of the extract and what it may be used for.

    Local land and property searches (Con29 Search Form questions 5.1 and 5.2) are administered by Cornwall Council's Local Land Charges.

    Parish/Town Councils

    Each Parish Council has a copy of the relevant section of the Definitive Map and Statement to show its local network. This should be kept with the Parish/Town Clerk and may be viewed by appointment with them.

    Ordnance Survey Maps

    Maps made by Ordnance Survey record physical features that are deemed to be of cartographic importance. Cornwall Council provides information to Ordnance Survey about where public rights of way are to be found. This information is reproduced on some editions of their maps.

    However, the fact that a public right of way recorded on the Definitive Map is not shown as a physical feature on an Ordnance Survey map is not evidence that the path is not a public right of way. Conversely, if Ordnance Survey has recorded a path, track or way because it is significant enough to be surveyed, it does not follow that a public right of way subsists along it. Ordnance Survey maps generally contain a disclaimer to this effect.




    Jeremy Rowe LD | Egloshayle, St Breock, St Ervan, St Eval, St Issey, St Mabyn & St Tudy