Public rights of way


As the highway authority for the Borough of Swindon, Swindon Borough Council is responsible for public rights of way.

The extensive network of paths run from the Thames Path National Trail at Lechlade to the Ridgeway National Trail on the Marlborough Downs.

A public right of way is a highway over which the public have a right of access along a linear route.

Types of way

The nature of the right determines the type of way, which can be either of the following:

  • Public Footpath - the right of way is on foot only, and waymarked with yellow arrows
  • Public Bridleway - the right of way is on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle; and waymarked with blue arrows
  • Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) - the right of way is for vehicles and all other kinds of user, and waymarked with red arrows
  • Restricted Byway - the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 will replace existing 'road used as public paths' (RUPPs) with restricted byways. The public will have a right of way on foot, on horseback, on a bicycle and be able to use a horsedrawn carriage

Your rights

On rights of way you can:

  • Take a pram, pushchair, wheelchair, but expect to encounter stiles on footpaths
  • Take a dog under close control but be aware that there may be no way for dogs at stiles
  • Take a short alternative route around an illegal obstruction
  • Move an illegal obstruction sufficiently to get past

Definitive map

Maps and statements are an important record of public rights of way. They provide conclusive evidence, at the relevant date of the map, of the existence and status of the public rights of way that are shown on them.

Many of the applications made to the highway authorities for definitive map modification orders, relate to claims based solely on use by the public without interruption for a period of 20 years or more.

The working copy of the Definitive Map is available to view online at My Maps.

Report a problem with a public right of way

The responsibility for managing and maintaining the borough’s public rights of way network is shared between the Council and landowner or farmer.

If the public right of way you wish to report has a tarmac surface, follow the process for reporting a road, footpath or pavement in poor condition.

To report a problem with other public rights of way, e-mail

You should provide as much detail as you can including:

  • your name
  • the date when you encountered the problem
  • the location of the problem – either a path number from My Maps, an OS Grid Reference or a what3words location
  • the type of path, for example, public footpath, public bridleway, restricted byway or byway open to all traffic
  • a description of the problem
  • a photograph of the problem

Further information

For further information about Rights of Way responsibilities, please refer to the following document:

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