[Talk-GB] Paths and Footways

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 17 22:13:21 UTC 2015

On 17/08/2015 21:43, Rob Nickerson wrote:
> ...  In regards to designation=*, are we now the only country that 
> makes a distinction between paths you have a legal right to walk on 
> and any other path that might exist because people happen to walk over 
> the land thus leaving a "desire line" path?

Hi Rob,

Apologies if I've grossly misunderstood here - I suspect I may have - 
but things in England and Wales* that aren't 
"designation=public_footpath"*** etc. aren't necessarily "desire 
lines".  There are a couple of other examples of "foot=yes":

1) Across Countryside and Rights of Way Act "access land".  I map paths 
across here as "foot=yes" because you do have a right of way - it's more 
than just permissive access (the landowner can't just say no - the CROW 
act gives them a number of reasons to temporarily close the land (e.g. 
grouse shooting I believe) but it's still "=yes".

2) Historic undocumented access rights, often in cities but also 
elsewhere.  This could be something that everyone uses as a footpath, 
but has never officially been listed as one.

That's not counting permissive access, such as a multi-use trail created 
by a council, or a route over which access has been negotiated with a 
landowner by e.g. Sustrans, or the desire lines you mention across land 
where it's clear access is permitted by the landowner (possibly 
indicated by a sign).

I'm not aware of another country with a similar scheme to England and 
Wales (Scotland** for example has a more Scandinavian-style system of an 
assumption of a right of access, with caveats).  This suggests to me 
that rendering designation doesn't really make a lot of sense outside of 
England and Wales.



* Unfortunately I don't have any first-hand knowledge about the 
situation in Northern Ireland, but this is the GB list so I presume 
we're just talking about GB anyway.

** See e.g. http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/The-Act-and-the-Code/Legal

*** I've only talked about "foot" and "footpath" here for simplicity.

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