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Who is responsible for keeping paths clear?

England and Wales

Local highway authorities – normally county or unitary councils, and national park authorities – have a duty to keep the highway clear of obstructions, and to remove any obstructions that occur.

Rights of way users can report obstructions to the highway authority under section 130A of the Highways Act 1980 / section 63 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and the authority must then contact the landowner and get the obstruction removed.

Not all paths are rights of way, and the authority does not have to clear obstructions on permissive paths, forest tracks and other trails without public rights. If you do not know whether a particular path is a right of way, look on an Ordnance Survey map or contact the local authority’s rights of way team.

Scotland

Scottish access rights differ from England and Wales, because cyclists have the right of access over almost all of the countryside, under the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2003. The main exceptions to this are gardens and the land immediately around houses, farmyards and land where crops are growing or agricultural or other work is taking place.

Each local authority has an access officer who has responsibility for managing the Core Path Network and for ensuring that land managers take steps to facilitate access across their land. Where unreasonable obstructions occur, access officers should contact the landowner or manager and work with them to get the obstruction removed.

For more information on Scottish access rights, visit http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com.