Advice for farmers and landowners
This page provides information to landowners and occupiers relating to public access.
A guide to public rights of way
We have produced a leaflet entitled 'Public Rights of Way - A Guide for Landowners and Occupiers'. You can contact us for a free paper copy.
As a farmers or landowner, you need to:
- know where public rights of way cross your land, as shown on the online Definitive Map
- ensure that any public rights of way are not obstructed.
- cut back overhanging and encroaching vegetation that affects public rights of way
- remember that it is illegal to cultivate or disturb any field edge footpath or bridleway
- provide and maintain stiles and gates on paths across your land in a safe and convenient condition for public use. A grant of 25% of reasonable costs incurred maintaining stiles and gates is available. Works carried out on Teesdale and Weardale Way paths attract a 50% grant. See .
- ensure that footpaths and bridleways across fields are reinstated and marked on the ground to the correct width after ploughing or other authorised works
- ensure that paths across fields are kept free from crops - a range of minimum widths are prescribed by law depending on the path's status and location where no other evidence exists as to width
- not cultivate or disturb byways, roads used as public paths and county roads under any circumstances
Stiles and gates on public rights of way
Farmers and landowners also need to:
- obtain our agreement before erecting stiles or gates in new locations along a footpath or bridleway as you can only be legally authorised under certain conditions. See guidance on stiles and gates for appropriate designs. . You may want to see our
- make arrangements with us for paths which will be affected by drainage or other engineering works, to be properly diverted on a temporary basis
- provide adequate bridges for all users where new ditches are made or existing ones widened
Cattle in fields with public access
Particularly relevant since the introduction of open access land in England and Wales, guidance for keeping cattle in fields with public access has been produced:
Landowners wishing to know more about their rights and responsibilities with respect to open access, can obtain further information from the Natural England: open access land website.
Deposits of Statements, Maps and Declarations by landowners
Section 31 (6) of the Highway Act 1980 - Deposit of Statement, Maps and Declaration allows for landowners to acknowledge the existence of certain public rights of way across their land and to prevent new public rights of way being created by 'presumed dedication'.
- Access and Rights of Way
- 03000 265 342
Our address is:
- Neighbourhoods and Climate Change
- Durham County Council
- St Johns Road
- County Durham
- United Kingdom
- DH7 8XQ