A Guide to Footpath Signs in England and Wales
Whether you are a casual walker enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll or a dedicated hiker looking to explore our islands’ wide and beautiful countryside, you will need to know the signs that show you are on the right path. So, let’s ramble on… Footpath (Yellow Arrow) - The most common sign you will come across and it means the footpath is open to walkers only. Bridleway (Blue Arrow) – Horse-riders and cyclists are welcome as well as walkers. Restricted Byway (Plum Coloured Arrow) – Walkers, horse-riders, cyclists and horse drawn carriages but NOT motorised vehicles. Byway Open To All Traffic (Red Arrow) – As the title suggests, these are open to walkers, horse-riders, cyclists, horse drawn and motorised vehicles. National Trail (Black Acorn) – Mainly for walkers but some can also be for cyclists and horse-riders. They are often well sign posted, run and funded by Natural England and pass through some of the most breathtaking landscapes England and Wales have to offer. Open Access Land (Brown Man Stood on Land) Roam at will, just consult your map or check with the local council as to where these areas finish. They are made for you to walk, watch wildlife, climb, run and have fun amongst the great outdoors. Permitted/Permissive Paths (White Arrow) - Paths the landowner has agreed with the local authority to allow public access to. These routes can be closed for several days every year by the landowner for maintenance and to avoid claims of continuous public right of way. Closures And Restrictions – closures to footpaths, specifically open access land should be made clear and reinforced by local signs. They will be shown on Countryside and Rights Of Way (CRoW) maps. For the latest news on closures it is best to contact the local council or check the following website: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/. It is a criminal offence to discourage right to public access paths with misleading signs so landowners must be careful. “Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted” – Aimed at deterring people from private land, these signs are usually meaningless as walking onto someone else’s property is a civil offence rather than a legal one, however the landowner could prosecute if you trespass and damage property. A landowner can use ‘reasonable force’ to encourage a trespasser off their property and signs of this nature are usually to be taken as a sign to move on. Mindfulness, common sense and respect should be practised here but simply walk on and continue to enjoy your day in peace. Hope this guide to signs you would find on footpaths and country walks in England and Wales has been helpful and happy hiking!