HOME
        TheInfoList






A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature trail) is a type of thoroughfare that is intended for use only by pedestrians and not other forms of traffic such as motorized vehicles, cycles, and horses. They can be found in a wide variety of places, from the centre of cities, to farmland, to mountain ridges. Urban footpaths are usually paved, may have steps, and can be called alleys, lanes, steps, etc.

National parks, nature preserves, conservation areas and other protected wilderness areas may have footpaths (trails) that are restricted to pedestrians.[1] The term footpath can also describe a pavement/sidewalk in some English-speaking countries (such as Australia and the Republic of Ireland).

A footpath can also take the form of a footbridge, linking two places across a river.

Origins and history

Public footpaths are rights of way originally created by people walking across the land to work, market, the next village, church, and school. This includes Mass paths and Corpse roads.[2][3] Some footpaths were also created by those undertaking a pilgrimage. Examples of the latter are the Pilgrim's Way in England and Pilgrim's Route (St. Olav's Way or the Old Kings' Road) in Norway. Some landowners allow access over their land without dedicating a right of way. These permissive paths are often indistinguishable from normal paths, but they are usually subject to restrictions. Such paths are often closed at least once a year, so that a permanent right of way cannot be established in law.[4]

Corpse road in the English Lake District

A mass path is a pedestrian track or road connecting destinations frequently used by rural communities, most usually the destination of Sunday Mass. They were most common during the centuries that preceded motorised transportation in Western Europe, and in particular the British Isles and the Netherlands (where such a path is called "kerkenpad" (lit. Church path). Mass paths typically included stretches crossing fields of neighboring farmers and were likely to contain stiles, when crossing fences or other boundaries, or plank footbridges to cross ditches. Some mass paths are still used today in the Republic of Ireland, but are usually subject to Ireland's complicated rights of way law.[5]

Corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses, often from remote communities, to cemeteries that had burial rights, such as parish churches and chapels of ease.[6] In Great Britain, such routes can also be known by a number of other names: bier road, burial road, coffin road, coffin line, lyke or lych way, funeral road, procession way, corpse way,[6] etc.

In the Ashanti Empire, footpaths were described according to British accounts, as being constructed for military purposes. One 1844 British commentary on Ashanti tactics claims that the Ashanti army commenced operations by cutting a number of footpaths in order to approach and encircle the enemy force. Once reaching the initial jump-off point, Ashanti troops formed in line and attacked.[7]

Nowadays footpaths are mainly used for recreation and have been frequently linked together, along with bridle paths and newly created footpaths, to create long-distance trails. Also organizations have been formed in various countries to protect the right to use public footpaths, including the Ramblers Association in England. Footpaths are now also found in botanic gardens, arboretums, regional parks, conservation areas, wildlife gardens, and open-air museums. There are also educational trails, themed walks, National parks, nature preserves, conservation areas and other protected wilderness areas may have footpaths (trails) that are restricted to pedestrians.[1] The term footpath can also describe a pavement/sidewalk in some English-speaking countries (such as Australia and the Republic of Ireland).

A footpath can also take the form of a footbridge, linking two places across a river.

Public footpaths are rights of way originally created by people walking across the land to work, market, the next village, church, and school. This includes Mass paths and Corpse roads.[2][3] Some footpaths were also created by those undertaking a pilgrimage. Examples of the latter are the Pilgrim's Way in England and Pilgrim's Route (St. Olav's Way or the Old Kings' Road) in Norway. Some landowners allow access over their land without dedicating a right of way. These permissive paths are often indistinguishable from normal paths, but they are usually subject to restrictions. Such paths are often closed at least once a year, so that a permanent right of way cannot be established in law.[4]

Corpse road in the English Lake District

A mass path is a pedestrian track or road connecting destinations frequently used by rural communities, most usually the destination of Sunday Mass. They were most common during the centuries that preceded motorised transportation in Western Europe, and in particular the British Isles and the Netherlands (where such a path is called "kerkenpad" (lit. Church path). Mass paths typically included stretches crossing fields of neighboring farmers and were likely to contain stiles, when crossing fences or other boundaries, or plank footbridges to cross ditches. Some mass paths are still used today in the Republic of Ireland, but are usually subject to Ireland's complicated rights of way law.[5]

Corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses, often from remote communities, to cemeteries that had burial rights, such as parish churches and chapels of ease.[6] In Great Britain, such routes can also be known by a number of other names: bier road, burial road, coffin road, coffin line, lyke or lych way, funeral road, procession way, corpse way,[6] etc.

In the

A mass path is a pedestrian track or road connecting destinations frequently used by rural communities, most usually the destination of Sunday Mass. They were most common during the centuries that preceded motorised transportation in Western Europe, and in particular the British Isles and the Netherlands (where such a path is called "kerkenpad" (lit. Church path). Mass paths typically included stretches crossing fields of neighboring farmers and were likely to contain stiles, when crossing fences or other boundaries, or plank footbridges to cross ditches. Some mass paths are still used today in the Republic of Ireland, but are usually subject to Ireland's complicated rights of way law.[5]

Corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses, often from remote communities, to cemeteries that had burial rights, such as parish churches and chapels of ease.[6] In Great Britain, such routes can also be known by a number of other names: bier road, burial road, coffin road, coffin line, lyke or lych way, funeral road, procession way, corpse way,[6] etc.

In the Ashanti Empire, footpaths were described according to British accounts, as being constructed for military purposes. One 1844 British commentary on Ashanti tactics claims that the Ashanti army commenced operations by cutting a num

Corpse roads provided a practical means for transporting corpses, often from remote communities, to cemeteries that had burial rights, such as parish churches and chapels of ease.[6] In Great Britain, such routes can also be known by a number of other names: bier road, burial road, coffin road, coffin line, lyke or lych way, funeral road, procession way, corpse way,[6] etc.

In the Ashanti Empire, footpaths were described according to British accounts, as being constructed for military purposes. One 1844 British commentary on Ashanti tactics claims that the Ashanti army commenced operations by cutting a number of footpaths in order to approach and encircle the enemy force. Once reaching the initial jump-off point, Ashanti troops formed in line and attacked.[7]

Nowadays footpaths are mainly used for recreation and have been frequently linked together, along with bridle paths and newly created footpaths, to create long-distance trails. Also organizations have been formed in various countries to protect the right to use public footpaths, including the Ramblers Association in England. Footpaths are now also found in botanic gardens, arboretums, regional parks, conservation areas, wildlife gardens, and open-air museums. There are also educational trails, themed walks, sculpture trails and historic interpretive trails.

In England and Wales, public footpaths are rights of way on which pedestrians have a legally protected right to travel. Other public rights of way in England and Wales, such as bridleways, byways, towpaths, and green lanes are also used by pedestrians. In Scotland there is no legal distinction between a footpath and a bridleway and it is generally accepted that cyclists and horse riders may follow any right of way with a suitable surface. The law is different in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and there are far fewer rights of way in Ireland as a whole (see Keep Ireland Open).

Definitive path maps

Footpaths and other rights of way in England and Wales are shown on definitive maps. A definitive map is a record of public rights of way in England and Wales. In law it is the definitive record of where a right of way is located. The highway authority (normally the county council, or unitary authority in areas with a one-tier system) has a statutory duty to maintain a definitive map, though in national parks the national park authority usually maintains the map. The definitive maps. A definitive map is a record of public rights of way in England and Wales. In law it is the definitive record of where a right of way is located. The highway authority (normally the county council, or unitary authority in areas with a one-tier system) has a statutory duty to maintain a definitive map, though in national parks the national park authority usually maintains the map. The Inner London boroughs are exempt from the statutory duty though they have the powers to maintain a map: currently none does so.[8]

In Scotland different legislation applies and there is no legally recognised record of rights of way. However, there is a National Catalogue of Rights of Way (CROW), compiled by the Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society (Scotways), in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, and the help of local authorities.[9]

The Open Spaces Society is a charitable British organisation that works to protect public rights of way and open spaces in the United Kingdom, such as common land and village greens. It is Britain's oldest national conservation body. The society was founded as the Commons Preservation Society and merged with the National Footpaths Society in 1899, and adopted their present name.[10]

Much of the Open Spaces Society's work is concerned with the preservation and creation of public paths. Before the introduction of definitive maps of public paths in the early 1950s, the public did not know where paths were, and the Open Spaces Society helped the successful campaign for paths to be shown on Ordnance Survey maps. It advises the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and National Assembly for Wales on applications for works on common land. Local authorities are legally required to consult the society whenever there is a proposal to alter the route of a public right of way.[10]

The Ramblers are another British organisation concerned with the protection of footpaths.

Urban footpaths

Much of the Open Spaces Society's work is concerned with the preservation and creation of public paths. Before the introduction of definitive maps of public paths in the early 1950s, the public did not know where paths were, and the Open Spaces Society helped the successful campaign for paths to be shown on Ordnance Survey maps. It advises the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and National Assembly for Wales on applications for works on common land. Local authorities are legally required to consult the society whenever there is a proposal to alter the route of a public right of way.[10]

The Ramblers are another British organisation concerned with the protection of footpaths.

There are a variety of footpaths in urban settings, including paths along streams and rivers, through parks and across commons. Another type is the alley, normally providing access to the rear of properties or connecting built-up roads not easily reached by vehicles. Towpaths are another kind of urban footpath, but they are often shared with cyclists. A typical footpath in a park is found along the seawall in Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This is a segregated path, with one lane for skaters and cyclists and the other for pedestrians.[11]

In the US and Canada, where urban sprawl has begun to strike even the most rural communities, developers and local leaders are currently striving to make their communities more conducive to non-motorized transportation through the use of less traditional paths. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has established the Active Living by Design program to improve the livability of communities in part through developing trails,[12] The Upper Valley Trails Alliance has done similar work on traditional trails, while the Somerville Community Path and related paths, are examples of urban initiatives. In urban sprawl has begun to strike even the most rural communities, developers and local leaders are currently striving to make their communities more conducive to non-motorized transportation through the use of less traditional paths. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has established the Active Living by Design program to improve the livability of communities in part through developing trails,[12] The Upper Valley Trails Alliance has done similar work on traditional trails, while the Somerville Community Path and related paths, are examples of urban initiatives. In St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada The Grand Concourse, is an integrated walkway system that has over 160 kilometers (99 mi) of footpaths which link every major park, river, pond, and green space in six municipalities.

In London, England, there are several long-distance walking routes which combine footpaths and roads to link green spaces. These include the Capital Ring, London Outer Orbital Path and the Jubilee Walkway, the use of which have been endorsed by Transport for London.[13]

An alley is a narrow, usually paved, pedestrian path, often between the walls of buildings in towns and cities. This type is usually short and straight, and on steep ground can consist partially or entirely of steps. In older cities and towns in Europe, alleys are often what is left of a medieval street network, or a right of way or ancient footpath. Similar paths also exist in some older North American towns and cities. In some older urban development in North America lanes at the rear of houses, to allow for deliveries and garbage collection, are called alleys. Alleys may be paved, or unpaved, and a blind alley is a cul-de-sac. Some alleys are roofed because they are within buildings, such as the traboules of Lyon, or when they are a pedestrian passage through railway embankments in Britain. The latter follow the line of rights-of way that existed before the railway was built.

Because of topography, steps (stairs) are the predominant form of alley in hilly cities and towns. This includes Pittsburgh (see Steps of Pittsburgh), Cincinnati (see Steps of Cincinnati), Seattle,[14] and San Francisco[15] in the United States, as well as Hong Kong,[16] and Rome.[17]

Long-distance paths

The main issues in urban areas include maintenance, litter, crime, and lighting after dark. In the countryside there are issues relating to conflicts between walkers and livestock, and these occasionally result in people being injured or even killed. Dogs often contribute to such conflicts – see in England and Wales The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. Also footpaths in remote locations can be difficult to maintain and a route along a country path can be impeded by ploughing, crops, overgrown vegetation, illegal barriers (including barbed wire), damaged stilesThe main issues in urban areas include maintenance, litter, crime, and lighting after dark. In the countryside there are issues relating to conflicts between walkers and livestock, and these occasionally result in people being injured or even killed. Dogs often contribute to such conflicts – see in England and Wales The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. Also footpaths in remote locations can be difficult to maintain and a route along a country path can be impeded by ploughing, crops, overgrown vegetation, illegal barriers (including barbed wire), damaged stiles, etc.

Confrontation with landowners in the UK