Useful information on Public Rights of Way

How to report a problem on a public footpath, bridleway or byway

The easiest way is to email Be specific in your location and tell us in as much detail as you can of where and what the problem is so we can easily find when we inspect.  You can email a photo (but make sure the image size is not large), photos should show the problem in relation to the surroundings (avoid close shots that do not help us identify the area)  .

If you are interested in helping out with minor maintenance problems, such has trimming overgrown vegetation away from gates or stiles, or moving a sign arm back into position please refer to the following website called Minor Maintenance on Isle of Wight Paths which is kindly run by a volunteer from the IW Ramblers Association.

Leisure map

As a representation of the up to date public rights of way network, a digital leisure map is available.  However, please note that this is not a Definitive Map and must not be used in substitution of obtaining a Local Land Charges Search nor used for any other legal or formal purposes (including in connection with any planning queries or applications).  

The data is an indication of the approximate routes of public rights of way and permissive paths for recreational/leisure purposes only at a scale of 1:10,000 (being the scale at which the Definitive Map 2000 is published). 

In respect of any queries relating to the precise and legal route of a public right of way or permissive path, please contact the Public Rights of Way Service Email:

View the leisure map.  You can move around the map and zoom in and out, but the path numbers will be lost if you scroll in too close.  You will need to tick the box to show you understand this is NOT a definitive map before you can proceed. 

Isle of Wight Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP)

Our Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) sets out our ambition for this and we are always looking for opportunities (including funding) to help us deliver this.

A comprehensive reassessment of rights of way and a review of the 2006 Plan was undertaken by the Isle of Wight Council during 2016. The results of that process show that the main aims of the 2006 ROWIP are still appropriate for meeting the public’s current needs from the network, and that much of the detailed information contained in it remains relevant today. The 2006 Plan, as originally published, is therefore to be retained as active policy with the updated ROWIP functioning as a policy update to incorporate new information gained during the 2016 review process.

Download the 2006 Rights of Way Improvement Plan (PDF, 3MB, 68 pages).

Download the 2018 Rights of Way Improvement Plan update (PDF, 3MB, 16 pages).

Ploughing and cropping

Trees and hedges

The ongoing maintenance of hedges and trees that run alongside public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and byways, which are legally “highways”) are the responsibility of the owner of the land they are planted on. In limited places that land may belong to the council but more commonly the land will be in private ownership. Download more about trees, hedges and rights of way (PDF, 961KB, 2 pages).

Electric fencing

Stiles and Gates

Safe gates and stiles across public rights of way

Download the Gates and Stiles landowner guidance (PDF, 1.08 MB)

This guidance sets out what a landowner needs to do to make sure their structures across a public right of way are safe, easy for the public to use and lawful.

•          Landowners if you need to install a new gate for stock control, across a public right of way, where there was not one physically before (and also recorded on the legal paperwork called the definitive statement which is dated in the early 1950’s  or subsequent legal path orders) you need to apply for consent and this is done using a form called a S147 application Download the IWC S147 application (PDF, 3 pages, 144 KB)   

If you would like these forms printed off and sent to you in the post, please email explaining what you require and provide your name and postal address.

Events on public rights of way

Private or Unadopted Roads with Public Rights of Way

Roads usually fall into two categories:

Adopted Roads

Most roads are (in the language of the Highways Act 1980) “highways maintainable at the public expense”. This means that there is a right of way for the public along them. They belong to and are maintained by a highway authority. An adopted road will include the footway or pavement.

On the Island, the highway authority is the Isle of Wight Council. Many of its functions are undertaken by its contractor, Island Roads.

Unadopted or Private Roads

These are not maintained by a highway authority. They provide access to residential properties. These are often along an unmade rough surface.

Use FindMyStreet to find out who maintains a road

Download the guidance notice for private / unadopted roads (PDF, 173KB). This is for roads that also have public right of way along them. 

Dogs on public rights of way

Dogs are considered a ‘usual accompaniment’ of a user of a Public Right of Way (PROW). There is no actual rule requiring that dogs must be kept on a lead whilst on a PROW, although there is a requirement that they are kept under control and confined to the line of the path and on a lead when you pass through an enclosure with sheep.  You must always remove and dispose of any dog mess responsibly. There are some Public Space Protection Order's (PSPO) on a few PROW when passing through certain fields which hold livestock, which mean dogs must be on leads. 

Dogs and stiles 
Landowners may wire up gaps to stop their stock animals escaping and this sometimes means a dog cannot make it under their own steam over a stile and it will need to be lifted by its owner. There is no duty imposed on landowners or the Council's Public Rights of Way Team to provide a dog gap next to a stile, and in cases where adjacent gaps have been wired up the Councils Rights of Way team do not have the resources to try and negotiate with landowners or fund special dog gates. 

Dogs and livestock

It is an offence for a dog to be at large in a field or enclosure where there are livestock, unless the dog is owned by the landowner, is a working gun dog, a trained sheep dog, a police dog or part of a pack of hounds. ‘At large’ is defined as not on a lead or otherwise under close control. It is also an offence to allow a dog to chase or attack livestock. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing livestock without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

An interesting article 'Your legal rights on shooting dogs on your land' (dated 20 September 2012) appears on the Farmers Weekly website.

Isle of Wight dog control orders

The Isle of Wight currently has a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). Our Environment Officers enforce these orders and the full order wording can be read on our Environment Officer web page

Further information guides can be found by accessing the links below:

Information and guidance on walking your dog out in public -  The Dog Walking Code (PDF, 954KB, 3 pages).

The National Trails website provides useful information on the Countryside Code.