Paths and Routes
Wales has a wealth of paths and routes.
Whether you use them to explore the landscape, keep fit or to get
from A to B, paths and routes provide the main means for us to
enjoy the countryside and green spaces.
You can find out about where these paths and routes are and plan
trips by using our Outdoor Wales onLine interactive maps to find
out where you can go and what you can do. Outdoor Wales onLine
provides links to other useful information, including further
details about particular sites or routes, accommodation, public
transport and the latest weather forecast.
Paths and Routes are being improved across the whole of Wales as
local authorities implement their Rights of Way Improvement Plans
with funding and help from the Welsh Government and CCW.
Public Rights of Way
There are around 33,000km (20,750 miles) of paths known as
public rights of way in Wales, and you have a right to use them.
There are different categories depending on what you can use them
- Most routes are footpaths which can be used by walkers.
- Other routes are bridleways which can be used by walkers,
cyclists and horse riders, (15%)
- There are also some routes known as byways: Restricted byways,
which can be used by the same groups as bridleways whilst also
allowing horse drawn carriages and other non-motorised vehicles and
Byways, which are open to all traffic, including vehicles, such as
motor bikes. (16%)
- People using wheelchairs can use all of the above routes if
they are suitable.
Public rights of way hold a special protected status by being
included in definitive maps and statements.
Restrictions which may apply to areas of land with public access
under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act do not apply to public
rights of way crossing this land.
There are also routes that are permissive, which means that the
landowner has given permission for people to use the route even
though they are not generally shown on maps and are not permanent.
Permissive paths provided under agri environment incentive schemes
such as Glastir will be shown on our Outdoor Wales onLine maps.
Cycle tracks are another type of public route created especially
for cycling, sometimes you can walk and ride horses on them too.
The National Cycling Network includes many of these routes and is
publicised by Sustrans whose website details are shown below. You
can go mountain biking on bridleways, restricted byways and byways,
and some areas have developed networks of permissive routes.
Some routes that are particularly special have been designated
as National Trails - the Trails cover a long distance and pass
through stunning landscape. All are open for walking and some
trails are also suitable for cyclists, horse riders and people with
Other routes which have guidebooks or are particularly useful in
some way are also promoted. You can find some of these on our
Outdoor Wales onLine maps and other sources, for example, Ordnance
Survey maps and Local authority websites.
Signs and Symbols used in the Countryside
When you are out and about paths that are public rights of way
should be signposted and tell you which of the above categories
they are. There are also uniform markers which show you.
Get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside to
show the different types of paths.
Footpath - open to walkers only, waymarked with
a yellow arrow.
Bridleway waymarker - open to walkers,
horseriders and cyclists, waymarked with a blue arrow.
Restricted Byway waymarker - open to walkers,
cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles, waymarked with a
plum coloured arrow.
Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) - open to
walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor
vehicles, waymarked with a red arrow.
National Trail Acorn - is used to identify the
15 long distance routes in England and Wales.
We want to ensure that the network of public rights of way is:
- in excellent condition and easy to use
- accurately described, so that people know what's out
- well publicised and easy to find out about
Local Access Forums
Support from the Welsh Government to local authorities means
that progress to improve paths and routes has been given a boost.
The Rights of Way Improvement Plan programme which includes work to
improve paths on the ground and the accuracy of definitive maps has
made a significant contribution to these aims.
Local Access Forums provide an opportunity to get involved in
improving access to the countryside and greenspace. The National
Access Forum also represents user and land management interests in
relation to Wales wide access issues.