Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex

Public Right of Way signs - What do they mean?


Below is a guide to assist walkers unfamiliar with the meaning of different waymark signs, most frequently seen in the Essex Rambers area.

Strictly speaking, a right of way is not the path itself but your legal right to cross land along a certain route: in some cases a right exists although no path is visible.



There are several different categories of rights of way.

Footpath sign Public Footpaths are open only to walkers, and may be waymarked with yellow arrows.
bridleway sign Public Bridleways are open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists (although cyclists should give way to other users) and may be waymarked with blue arrows.
Restricted Byway sign Restricted Byways are open to all non-motorised users including vehicles such as horse-drawn carts. They may be waymarked with plum-coloured arrows.
Boat sign Byways Open to All Traffic can be used legally even by motorists. Although most of them are inaccessible to ordinary motor vehicles, you may encounter off-road vehicles like 4x4s and trials bikes.

By law, rights of way should not be obstructed and can’t be diverted or closed simply for the convenience of the land owner. Unfortunately, some local authorities do not adequately fulfil their legal duties and on some paths you may encounter problems with illegal obstructions, badly maintained path furniture and misleading signs. Where a path is obstructed, you are entitled to divert around the obstruction, or to remove it (provided you have not gone out specifically to remove the obstruction).

Help keep paths open by reporting problems to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.