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Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or
thoroughfare A thoroughfare is a primary passage or way as a transit route through regularly trafficked areas, whether by road on land, dry land or, by Extension (semantics), extension, via watercraft or aircraft. On land, a thoroughfare may refer to anythin ...
subject to such a right". A similar ''right of access'' also exists on land held by a government, lands that are typically called
public land In all modern states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Colum ...
, state land, or
Crown land Crown land (sometimes spelled crownland), also known as royal domain, is a territorial area belonging to the monarch, who personifies . It is the equivalent of an and passes with the monarchy, being inseparable from it. Today, in s such as Cana ...
. When one person owns a piece of land that is bordered on all sides by lands owned by others, an
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
may exist, or be created so as to initiate a right of way through the bordering land. This article focuses on access by foot, by bicycle, horseback, or along a waterway, while
Right-of-way (transportation) A right-of-way (ROW) is a right to make a way over a piece of land, usually to and from another piece of land. A right of way is a type of easement granted or reserved over the land for transportation purposes, such as a highway, public footpat ...
focuses on land usage rights for highways, railways, and pipelines. A
footpath A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, path or footpath A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature tra ...

footpath
is a right of way that legally may only be used by pedestrians. A
bridleway A bridle path, also bridleway, equestrian trail, horse riding path, ride, bridle road, or horse trail, is a path, trail A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, path or ...

bridleway
is a right of way that legally may be used only by pedestrians, cyclists and
equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian sports, Equestrian sports *Equestrianism, ...

equestrian
s, but not by motorised vehicles. In some countries, especially in
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
, where the
freedom to roam The freedom to roam, or "everyman's right", is the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land, lakes, and rivers for recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do s ...

freedom to roam
has historically taken the form of general public rights, a right of way may not be restricted to specific paths or trails.


Alternative definitions

A further definition of right of way, chiefly in American transport, is as a type of
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
granted or reserved over the land for as to
transportation Transport (in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engl ...

transportation
purposes, this can be for a
highway A highway is any public or private road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadways (British English: ...

highway
, public
footpath A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, path or footpath A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature tra ...

footpath
, railway, canal, as well as electrical transmission lines, oil and gas pipelines. The term may also describe priority of traffic flow, "the legal right of a pedestrian, vehicle, or ship to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place". In
hiking Hiking is a long, vigorous walk Walking (also known as ambulation) is one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals. Walking is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendu ...

hiking
etiquette, where when two groups of hikers meet on a steep trail, a custom has developed in some areas whereby the group moving uphill has the right of way.


Worldwide


New Zealand

There is extensive public access in New Zealand, including waterways and the coast, but it is "often fragmented and difficult to locate".


Republic of Ireland

In the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, Éire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland ('), is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective id ...

Republic of Ireland
, pedestrian rights of way to churches, known as
mass path A mass path is a pedestrian A pedestrian is a person travelling on , whether or . In modern times, the term usually refers to someone walking on a or , but this was not the case historically. The meaning of pedestrian is displayed with ...
s, have existed for centuries. In other cases, the modern law is unclear; on the one hand,
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom The history of the United Kingdom began in the early eighteenth century with the Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international l ...
laws on
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
s protect a property owner's rights, amplified by the 1937 constitution, which stipulate that a right of way has to be specifically dedicated to public use. Opposing these, those claiming general rights of way hark back to an anti-
landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temp ...
position that lasted the
Land War The Land War ( ga, Cogadh na Talún) was a period of agrarian agitation in rural Ireland that began in 1879. It may refer specifically to the first and most intense period of agitation between 1879 and 1882, or include later outbreaks of agitatio ...
of the 1880s to the end of British rule in 1922. Rights of way can be asserted by
adverse possession Adverse possession, sometimes colloquially described as "squatter's rights", is a legal principle under which a person who does not have title (property), legal title to a piece of property usually land (real property) may acquire legal owne ...
, but proving continuous use can be difficult. A case heard in 2010 concerning claims over the
Lissadell House Lissadell House is a neo-classical Greek revivalist style country house, located in County Sligo County Sligo ( , gle, Contae Shligigh) is a Counties of Ireland, county in Republic of Ireland, Ireland. It is located in the Border Region and i ...
estate was based on the historical laws, since amended by the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, 2009. The 2009 Act abolished the doctrine of lost modern grant, and allows a user to claim a right of way after 12 years of use across private land owned by another, 30 years on state land and 60 years on the
foreshore
foreshore
. The claimant must apply to the courts, and have their claim confirmed by a court order, and then have it duly registered on the title deeds, a lengthy process. The user must prove "enjoyment without force, without secrecy and without the oral or written consent of the owner", a restatement of the centuries-old principle of '' Nec vi, nec clam, nec precario''. A court order granting a right of way is personal to the applicant for their lifetime, and cannot be inherited or assigned.


United Kingdom


England and Wales

In
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
, other than in the 12
Inner London Inner London is the name for the group of London boroughs The London boroughs are the 32 local authority districts that make up the ceremonial county of Greater London Greater London is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county ...
Boroughs and the
City of London The City of London is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...

City of London
, public rights of way are paths on which the public have a legally protected right to pass and re-pass. The law in England and Wales differs from that in
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
in that rights of way only exist where they are so designated (or are able to be designated if not already) whereas in Scotland any route that meets certain conditions is defined as a
right of way Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or thoroughfare subject to such a right". A similar ''right of access'' also exists on ...
, and in addition there is a general presumption of access to the countryside. Private rights of way or
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
s also exist.
Footpaths A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature trail) is a type of thoroughfare A thoroughfare is a primary passage or way as a transit route through regularly trafficked areas whether by road A road is a thoroughfare, route, or w ...
,
bridleways A bridle path, also bridleway, equestrian trail, horse riding path, ride, bridle road, or horse trail, is a path, trail A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, path or f ...
and other rights of way in most of England and Wales are shown on
definitive map A definitive map is a record of public rights of way Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or thoroughfare subject to such a ...
s. A definitive map is a record of public
rights of way Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or thoroughfare subject to such a right". A similar ''right of access'' also exists on l ...
in England and Wales. In law it is the definitive record of where a right of way is located. The highway authority (normally the
county council A county council is the elected administrative body governing an area known as a county. This term has slightly different meanings in different countries. Members are elected in County Council elections. Ireland The county councils created und ...
, or unitary authority in areas with a one-tier system) has a statutory duty to maintain a definitive map, though in national parks the
national park authorityA national park authority is a special term used in the United Kingdom for legal bodies charged with maintaining a national park of which as of December 2016 there are ten in England, three in Wales and two in Scotland. The powers and duties of all s ...
usually maintains the map.


=London

=
Definitive map A definitive map is a record of public rights of way Right of way is "the legal right, established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another", or "a path or thoroughfare subject to such a ...
s of public rights of way have been compiled for all of
England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows ...

England and Wales
as a result of the
Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside town A town is a human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field o ...
, except the twelve
Inner London Inner London is the name for the group of London boroughs The London boroughs are the 32 local authority districts that make up the ceremonial county of Greater London Greater London is a Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county ...
boroughs which, along with the
City of London The City of London is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...

City of London
, were not covered by the Act. To protect the existing rights of way in London, the
Ramblers The Ramblers (officially the Ramblers Association) is Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the Li ...

Ramblers
launched their "Putting London on the Map" in 2010 with the aim of getting "the same legal protection for paths in the capital as already exists for footpaths elsewhere in England and Wales. Currently, legislation allows the Inner London boroughs to choose to produce definitive maps if they wish, but none do so.Inner London Ramblers
/ref> The launch event of "Putting London on the Map" took place at the
British Library The British Library is the national library A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public library, public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow book ...

British Library
, and since then "the Inner London Area of the Ramblers has been working with Ramblers Central Office staff to try to persuade each of the Inner London boroughs on the desirability of producing definitive maps of rights of way". In 2011
Lambeth Council Lambeth London Borough Council is the local authority for the London Borough of Lambeth in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, and one of the 32 in the United Kingdom capital of London. The council meets at Lambeth Town Hall i ...
passed a resolution to work towards creating a definitive map for their borough, but this does not yet exist. The
City of London The City of London is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...

City of London
has produced a Public Access Map. Definitive maps exist for the
Outer London Outer London is the name for the group of London boroughs The London boroughs are the 32 districts of England, local authority districts that make up the Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county of Greater London; each is governed by ...
boroughs.


=Permissive paths

= Some landowners allow access over their land without dedicating a right of way. These are often physically indistinguishable from public rights of way, but they are may be subject to restrictions. Such paths are often closed at least once a year, so that a permanent right of way cannot be established in law.


Scotland

In
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
, a right of way is a route over which the public has been able to pass unhindered for at least 20 years.Rights of way in Scotland
Scottish Natural Heritage

archive copy of SNH document
The route must link two "public places", such as villages, churches or roads. Unlike in rights of way in England and Wales, England and Wales there is no obligation on Scottish
local authorities Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state A sovereign state is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geograp ...
to signpost rights of way. However the charity
ScotwaysThe Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society was formed in 1845 as the 'Association for the Protection of Public Rights of Roadway in and around Edinburgh'. By 1885 it had become the 'Scottish Rights of Way and Recreation Society' and traded as the ...
, formed in 1845 to protect rights of way, records and signs the routes. The
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 is an Act of the Scottish Parliament which establishes statutory public rights of access to land and makes provisions under which bodies representing rural and crofting communities may buy land. Provisions T ...
codified in law traditional, non-motorised, access practices on land and water. Under the 2003 Act a plain language explanation of rights is published by Scottish Natural Heritage: the
Scottish Outdoor Access Code The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides detailed guidance on the exercise of the ancient tradition of in Scotland, which was formally codified by the . Under everyone has the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education ...
. Certain categories of land are excluded from this presumption of open access, such as railway land, airfields and private gardens. Section 4 of the Access Code explains how land managers are permitted to request the public to avoid certain areas for a limited period in order to undertake management tasks, however longer term restrictions must be approved by the
local authority Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
. The ability to temporarily restrict public access is commonly exercised without notice by shooting, forestry or wind farm operators, but does not extend to public Rights of Way. In Scotland the public have a higher degree of freedom on Rights of Way than on open land. Blocking a Right of Way in Scotland is a criminal obstruction under the Highways Act, just as in England and Wales, but the lack of publicly accessible Rights of Way maps in Scotland makes it very difficult to enforce. While in England and Wales, highway authorities have a duty to maintain legally recognised maps of rights of way, in Scotland different legislation applies and there is no legally recognised record of rights of way. However, there is a National Catalogue of Rights of Way (CROW), compiled by the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society (Scotways), in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, and the help of local authorities. There are three categories of rights of way in CROW: *vindicated – routes declared to be rights of way by some legal process; *asserted – routes which have been accepted as rights of way by the landowner, or where local authorities are prepared to take legal action to protect them; *claimed – other right of way routes, which have not been vindicated or asserted, but which appear to meet the common law conditions and have not yet been legally disputed.


Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
has very few public rights of way and access to land in Northern Ireland is more restricted than other parts of the UK, so that in many areas walkers can only enjoy the countryside because of the goodwill and tolerance of landowners. Permission has been obtained from all landowners across whose land the Waymarked Ways and
Ulster Way The Ulster Way is a series of walking routes which encircles Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, province, or region whic ...
traverse. Much of Northern Ireland's public land is accessible, e.g. Water Service and
Forest ServiceForest Service may refer to: * Canadian Forest Service * Indian Forest Service * New Zealand Forest Service * United States Forest Service * Forestry Commission in the United Kingdom ** Forest Service Northern Ireland {{disambig Government agencies ...
land, as is land owned and managed by organisations such as the
National Trust The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, commonly known as the National Trust, is a charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, cou ...

National Trust
and the
Woodland Trust The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the United Kingdom concerned with the creation, protection, and restoration of native woodland Natural heritage, heritage. It has planted over 43 million trees since 1972. The W ...
. Northern Ireland shares the same legal system as
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
, including concepts about the ownership of land and public rights of way, but it has its own court structure, system of precedents and specific access legislation.


United States

In the United States, a right-of-way is normally created as a form of
easement An easement is a Nonpossessory interest in land, nonpossessory right to use and/or enter onto the real property of another without possessing it. It is "best typified in the right of way which one landowner, A, may enjoy over the land of another ...
. The easement may be an easement appurtenant, that benefits a neighboring property, or an easement in gross, that benefits another individual or entity as opposed to another parcel of land. See also "Alternative definitions" above, with regard to types of easement granted or reserved over land for transportation purposes,


Right to roam

The freedom to roam, or everyman's right is the general public's right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise. Access is permitted across any open land, in addition to existing paths and tracks. In
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
public access rights apply to certain categories of mainly uncultivated land—specifically "mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land". Developed land, gardens and certain other areas are specifically excluded from the right of access. Agricultural land is accessible if it falls within one of the categories described above (See
Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside town A town is a human settlement In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field o ...
). Most publicly owned forests have a similar right of access by virtue of a voluntary dedication made by the
Forestry Commission The Forestry Commission is a non-ministerial government department Non-ministerial government departments (NMGDs) are a type of Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom, department of the Government of the United Kingdom that deal w ...
. People exercising the right of access have certain duties to respect other people's rights to manage the land, and to protect nature. In
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
and the
Nordic countries The Nordic countries (also known as the Nordics or ''Norden''; lit. 'the North') are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impac ...

Nordic countries
of
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of B ...

Finland
,
Iceland Iceland ( is, Ísland; ) is a Nordic Nordic most commonly refers to: * Nordic countries, written in plural as Nordics, the northwestern European countries, including Scandinavia, Fennoscandia and the List of islands in the Atlantic Ocean#N ...

Iceland
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
and
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
as well as the
Baltic countries The Baltic states ( et, Balti riigid, Baltimaad; lv, Baltijas valstis; lt, Baltijos valstybės), also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations, or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the ...

Baltic countries
of
Estonia Estonia ( et, Eesti ), officially the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariik, links=no), is a country in northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea across from Sweden ...

Estonia
,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic re ...

Latvia
and
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region The terms Baltic Sea Region, Baltic Rim countries (or simply Baltic Rim), and the Baltic Sea countr ...
the freedom to roam may take the form of general public rights which are sometimes codified in law. The access is ancient in parts of
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
and has been regarded as sufficiently basic that it was not formalised in law until modern times. This right also usually includes access to lakes and rivers, and therefore activities like swimming, canoeing, rowing and sailing. The
Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 is an Act of the Scottish Parliament which establishes statutory public rights of access to land and makes provisions under which bodies representing rural and crofting communities may buy land. Provisions T ...
gives everyone statutory access rights to most inland water in Scotland (excluding motorized vehicles), providing that they respect the rights of others. The Rivers Access Campaign is being undertaken by the
British Canoe Union British Canoeing, formerly known as the British Canoe Union (BCU) is a national governing body for canoeing Canoeing is an activity which involves paddling Paddling with regard to watercraft is the act of manually propelling a boat using a p ...
(BCU) to open up the inland water-ways in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
on behalf of members of the public. Under current UK law, public access to rivers is restricted, and only 2% of all rivers in England and Wales have public access rights. The BCU is using the campaign not just to raise awareness of the access issues, but to try to bring about changes in the law. Many tropical countries such as
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
have historic policies of open access to forest or wilderness areas.


Public land

Some land long considered public or crown land may in fact be the territory of indigenous people, in countries that were colonised.


Crown land in Canada

Much of
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
is
Crown land Crown land (sometimes spelled crownland), also known as royal domain, is a territorial area belonging to the monarch, who personifies . It is the equivalent of an and passes with the monarchy, being inseparable from it. Today, in s such as Cana ...
owned by the
provinces A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
. Some is leased for commercial activity, such as forestry or mining, but on much of it there is free access for recreational activities like hiking, cycling, canoeing, cross-country skiing, horse back riding, and licensed hunting and fishing, etc. At the same time access can be restricted or limited for various reasons (e.g., to protect public safety or resources, including the protection of wild plants and animals). In the
Canadian Territories The provinces and territories of Canada are sub-national divisions within the geographical areas of Canada under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of Canada, Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of Britis ...
Crown land is administered by the
Canadian Federal Government The Government of Canada (french: gouvernement du Canada) is the body responsible for the federal administration of Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces a ...
.
Canadian National Parks National Parks of Canada are protected natural spaces throughout the country that represent distinct geographical regions of the nation. Under the administration of Parks Canada, a government branch, National Parks allow for public enjoyment witho ...

Canadian National Parks
have been created from Crown land and are also administered by the Federal Government. There are also
provincial park A provincial park (or territorial park) is a administered by one of the s of a country, as opposed to a . They are similar to s in other countries. They are typically open to the public for recreation. Their environment may be more or less strict ...
s and
nature reserve A nature reserve (also known as a natural reserve, wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature preserve, or nature conservation area) is a protected area Protected areas or conservation areas a ...
s that have been similarly created. The
aboriginal peoples in Canada Indigenous peoples in Canada (also known as Aboriginals) are the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous peoples within the boundaries of Canada. They comprise the First Nations, Inuit and Métis#Métis people in Canada, Métis. Although ...
may have specific rights on Crown land established under treaties signed when Canada was a British colony, and have claimed ownership of some Crown land.


Crown land in Australia

Much of Australia's land area is
Crown land Crown land (sometimes spelled crownland), also known as royal domain, is a territorial area belonging to the monarch, who personifies . It is the equivalent of an and passes with the monarchy, being inseparable from it. Today, in s such as Cana ...
, which is administered by the
Australian states The States and Territories of Australia are the regional governments in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Aust ...
. Much consists of pastoral leases, land owned and run by Aboriginal people (e.g. APY lands), and “unallocated” Crown land. Access to the latter is normally permitted for recreational purposes, though motorized vehicles are required to follow roads.


Public land in the US

Most state and federally managed
public lands In all modern Sovereign state, states, a portion of land is held by central or local governments. This is called public land, state land, or Crown land (Australia, New Zealand and Canada). The system of tenure of public land, and the terminology us ...
are open for recreational use. Recreation opportunities depend on the managing agency, and run the gamut from the free-for-all, undeveloped wide open spaces of the
Bureau of Land Management The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the responsible for administering . Headquartered in and with oversight over , it governs one eighth of the country's landmass. President created the BLM in 1946 by combining two ex ...
lands to the highly developed and controlled US national parks and
state park State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the sub-national level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural ...
s. Wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas, managed primarily to improve
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...
, are generally open to wildlife watching, hiking, and hunting, except for closures to protect mating and nesting, or to reduce stress on wintering animals. National forests generally have a mix of maintained trails and roads, wilderness and undeveloped portions, and developed picnic and camping areas.


Water


Foreshore

Public rights of way frequently exist on the of beaches. In legal discussions the foreshore is often referred to as the ''wet-sand area''. For privately owned beaches in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, some states such as
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
use the low water mark as the dividing line between the property of the State and that of the beach owner. Other states such as
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
use the high-water mark. In the , the foreshore is generally deemed to be owned by the
Crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Pri ...

Crown
although there are notable exceptions, especially what are termed ''several fisheries'' which can be historic deeds to title, dating back to
King John of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen re ...

King John
's time or earlier, and the
Udal Law Udal law is a Norse Norse is demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture ...
, which applies generally in
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
and
Shetland Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or co ...

Shetland
. While in the rest of Britain ownership of land extends only to the
High water mark A high water mark is a point that represents the maximum rise of a body of water over land. Such a mark is often the result of a flood Flash flooding caused by heavy rain falling in a short amount of time. A flood is an overf ...
, and
The Crown The Crown is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

The Crown
is deemed to own what lies below it, in
Orkney Orkney (; sco, Orkney; on, Orkneyjar; nrn, Orknøjar), also known as the Orkney Islands, is an archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or collection of island A ...

Orkney
and
Shetland Shetland ( on, Hjaltland; sco, Shetland; nrn, Hjetland), also called the Shetland Islands and formerly Zetland, is a subarctic archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster or co ...

Shetland
it extends to the lowest Spring ebb. Where the foreshore is owned by the Crown the public has access below the line marking
high tide High Tide may refer to: * High tide, the state of tide when the water rises to its highest level Film and television * High Tide (1947 film), ''High Tide'' (1947 film), an American film noir * High Tide (1987 film), ''High Tide'' (1987 film), an A ...
. In Greece, according to the L. 2971/01, the foreshore zone is defined as the area of the coast which might be reached by the maximum climbing of the waves on the coast (maximum wave run-up on the coast) in their maximum capacity (maximum referring to the “usually maximum winter waves” and of course not to exceptional cases, such as tsunamis etc.). The foreshore zone, apart from the exceptions in the law, is public, and permanent constructions are not allowed on it. As with the dry sand part of a beach, legal and political disputes can arise over the ownership and public use of the . One recent example is the
New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy The New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy is a debate in the politics of New Zealand The politics of New Zealand function within a framework of a unitary Unitary may refer to: * Unitary construction, in automotive design a common t ...
involving the land claims of the Māori people. However, the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 guarantees free public access.


Rivers

The Rivers Access Campaign is being undertaken by the
British Canoe Union British Canoeing, formerly known as the British Canoe Union (BCU) is a national governing body for canoeing Canoeing is an activity which involves paddling Paddling with regard to watercraft is the act of manually propelling a boat using a p ...
(BCU) to open up the inland water-ways in
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It ...

Wales
on behalf of members of the public. Under current England and Wales law, public access to rivers is restricted, and only 2% of all rivers in England and Wales have public access rights.


See also

*Alley *Byway (road) *Corpse road *Drovers' road *Green lane (road) *Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management *Old military roads of Scotland *Scots law *Trail *Trespass *Vehicle#Right-of-way


References


External links


Heritage Paths (Scottish rights of way)Keep Ireland OpenPublic rights of way (Naturenet)
*[https://www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/rights-of-way-law-in-england-and-wales.aspx The Ramblers: Basic rights of way law]
Scotsway: The Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society
{{Authority control Freedom to roam Hiking Outdoor recreation Traffic law