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Introduction

Somerset is a wonderful county full of contrast and there is no better way to absorb its beauty, variety and history than through the Public Rights of Way Network. The county has over 9000 rights of way totalling 3808 miles (6129 km).

The extensive path network is varied ranging from long distance routes such as the South West Coast Path and the River Parrett Trail, to a number of promoted circular routes and local country paths.

If you would like to get involved in supporting this wonderful resource, the Rights of Way Team has a range of voluntary opportunities where members of the public can get involved. You can find out more on our Volunteering Somerset website.

Report an issue on the network

You can use Explore Somerset mapping to report issues that you find on the public rights of way network. Please locate the issue on the map as accurately as possible as this makes it easier for the wardens and rangers to locate and investigate. Issues will be assessed and where necessary, action taken to try and resolve them. If you supply your email address on the form you will receive updates when the issue has been assigned and resolved or closed.

View the network and the modification register

You can plan a walk, ride or cycle, or simply check where a public right of way is then follow this link to view the entire public rights of way network in Somerset. You will also be able to see what type of assets (for example, stiles, gates) are on the paths or view and report issues on the network.

View details of applications that have been made under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to modify the Definitive Map and Statement:

View the network

Rights of Way requests – view the Modifications Register

Highways and Commons Deposits Register

View details of deposits and statements made by landowners to protect their land from future public paths being claimed and registration of a town or village green.

The majority of the Public Rights of Way Network in Somerset is made up of public footpaths, over which the public only have a right on foot. There are also many public bridleways over which you can walk, ride a horse and also cycle (as long as you give way to other walkers and horse riders). There are a lesser number of restricted byways and a handful of byways open to all traffic. Restricted byways allow walkers, horse riders, cyclists and non-mechanically propelled vehicles (for example, horse and cart), whereas byways open to all traffic allow all users including motorised traffic.

We are responsible for protecting and asserting your rights to use the network and for keeping the legal record of public rights of way up-to-date. We have also published a Rights of Way Improvement Plan for the county and are responsible for the recruiting for, and servicing of, the Somerset Local Access Forum.

Landowners wishing to make a statement protecting their land from having additional rights of way dedicated over it, or becoming a village green, please email
rightsofway@somerset.gov.uk

The cost is £100 for a Section 31 deposit, or £180 if a landowner wishes to stop the land becoming a village green.

A specialist team deals exclusively with these rights of way issues, which are delivered in partnership with the Exmoor National Park Authority.

View the Highways and Commons Deposits Register

The England Coast Path - Somerset

We have worked in partnership with Natural England to establish the 93 km (58 mile) Somerset stretch of the England Coast Path between Brean Down and Minehead. The route was officially opened on 15 March 2016.

For more information about the route please visit our England Coast Path page or the National Trails website. A map of the route is shown on the Explore Somerset interactive map. When Ordnance Survey maps are revised they will show the route.

Rights of Way Improvement Plan

The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) identifies how we propose to improve the provision of public rights of way and service delivery in Somerset for walkers, cyclists, equestrians and those with visual or mobility impairments. It contains policy statements and an action plan.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 placed a duty on all Highway Authorities to produce a RoWIP by November 2007. The first Somerset RoWIP was adopted in 2006 and has since been revised with RoWIP2 adopted in 2015.

The existing network of public rights of way dates back over 50 years and in many areas there has been little change to the path network. The landscape has changed in this time, as has the way that we move about the countryside with an increased use of public rights of way for recreational purposes. Therefore we need to provide a network of routes that meets the current and future needs of the public, for residents and visitors alike. However, this has to be achieved within the current restrictive legal framework.

Public consultation resulted in over 1000+ suggestions for new routes, diversions or improvements to existing routes. These proposals have been prioritised using the RoWIP scorecard and will be investigated further as and when resources allow.

The RoWIP is part of the Future Transport Plan. RoWIP is to be reviewed at least every 10 years.

Open access land

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the public were given rights to walk freely over mapped access land without having to stay on public rights of way. We are responsible for enabling and managing access on this land, in consultation with the Somerset Local Access Forum.

To find out more information about open access land please contact us or visit the Natural England website by using the link in More Information.

Landowners and long-term tenants can apply for restrictions to suspend or prevent access onto their land for land management, safety or fire prevention reasons. You will need to apply for restrictions to Natural England.

Please call the Open Access Contact Centre on 0300 060 2091 or email openaccess@naturalengland.org.uk.

Signs will be placed at access points to the restricted areas with an indication of when the restriction will be lifted.

The new rights do not entitle you to ride a bike or a horse, drive a vehicle, camp, hunt, fish or collect anything from the area, light fires or take part in organised games or commercial activities. However, this does not affect existing rights such as bridleways and footpaths or any other rights that apply locally.

In Somerset, over 63 sq. miles or 163 km² of land has been successfully opened up as access land. We have worked with landowners and land managers to help to ensure that where possible, the land is fully accessible, whilst not conflicting with conservation and heritage interests.

Please observe our countryside code by:

  • Planning your route and following signs
  • Leaving gates and property as you find them
  • Protecting plants and animals
  • Taking litter home
  • Keeping children and dogs under control

More information

Explore Somerset – interactive map

Countryside Code website

Report illegal off-road activity on public rights of way

Natural England Coastal Access

DEFRA website

Walks and Trails in Somerset


Rights of Way GIS Files

We release data containing details of the rights of way in Somerset. The date of this data is 29 September 2023. Please be aware that the Interactive Mapping includes any changes made since this data was obtained.

Any use of this data must include the date of the data and the following disclaimer:

The precise line of a right of way can only be determined by reference to the Definitive Map (1:10560 scale). Somerset Council can accept no responsibility for any error or inaccuracy which may arise from the transposition of the Definitive Map to a different scale.

Last reviewed: November 9, 2023 by Neil

Next review due: May 9, 2024

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