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Public Rights of Way

Cornwall has 4,500 km of public rights of way. It also has the longest section of the South West Coast Path National Trail. They remain open for the public to use:

  • to get to work, school, college or university
  • to get to medical appointments
  • to exercise or to get to outdoor public spaces
  • to get to shops for basic necessities
  • to visit members of their support bubble

Some people who are self-isolating have specific concerns about paths crossing their land. However it is both impractical and undesirable to permanently close or divert sections of path in these circumstance. There are no powers to divert public rights of way on a temporary basis because of the risk of spreading coronavirus.  When using public rights of way, please respect the fears of landowners who may have family members who are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Refrain from approaching them without their express permission.  It is better when crossing land which forms the curtilage of a domestic or business property to pass through quickly and with minimum disturbance of residents.

Cornwall Council emphasises that people must follow the Government’s guidelines about travel. You may make a short journey for the purpose of undertaking exercise.  People are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible and to plan ahead and avoid busy time and routes on public transport. Large groups of people using popular sections of the Coast Path and other public rights of way risk spreading the virus.

There are three simple actions which we must all do to keep on protecting each other: Wash Hands, Cover Face, Make Space

Please see our Public Rights of Way and COVID-19 page for further information.

What is a public right of way?

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A public right of way is a route over land which the public has a legal right to use at any time. Rights of way can be found in towns, villages and the countryside. Some paths may be surfaced although most are tracks across countryside owned by landowners. Cornwall Council has a responsibility to maintain and protect 2,760 miles (4,442 km) of public right of way across Cornwall.

Whilst enjoying Cornwall's significant rights of way network we are aware that you may come across faults associated with some of the paths.

Report a public right of way issue

It also helps us to identify and locate the problem if you know the number of the path.

You can find the path number using the public rights of way layer on our interactive mapping. Zoom in on an area and select a public right of way. The path number will be displayed in an information window (e.g. Parish/path no./link no.223/12/2).

We have also provided a list of all public path reference numbers where you can use the links in the document to be taken to the selected path on our interactive mappping and a parish reference number and name look up.

Public Footpath

Yellow waymarker

The public have a right of way on foot only. Prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs and invalid carriages are allowed along public footpaths, however not all paths may be suitable particularly in the countryside

We have 2,216 miles (3,567 km) of public footpath across Cornwall.

Public Bridleway

Blue waymarker

The public have a right of way on foot, horseback or bicycle.

We have 415 miles (668 km) of public bridleway across Cornwall.

Restricted Byway

Plum waymarker

The public have a right of way on foot, horseback, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.

We have 1.7 miles (2.7 km) of restricted byway across Cornwall.

Public Byway

Red waymaker

The public have a right of way on foot, horseback, bicycle or vehicle including horse-drawn carriage, motorcycle or other motor vehicle.

We have 127 miles (204 km) of public byway across Cornwall.