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Rights of Way

As a result of Storm Gerrit and the recent tornado in Stalybridge the Council has been prioritising the clean-up process of debris and fallen trees on our highways. This is to ensure our streets are safe and accessible. As this is being completed we are now moving on to carrying out tree works in our Parks and Greenspaces.  There are sites in Stalybridge such as Cowbury Dale, Cowbury Green and Staleyway and these have been very badly hit with extensive work required to clear trees across paths including rights of way.  We will prioritise the most urgent safety work and then will focus on sites we know are busiest and those routes which are busiest however this is going to take time and we appreciate your patience with this matter.  In the meantime please note that many sites are inaccessible and if you do decide to visit local parks and countryside sites please be aware of the potential damage and danger from fallen trees.  As Officers are carrying out safety work in Stalybridge it may cause some delays to work elsewhere and we appreciate your patience with this.  We will provide further updates here as work progresses and if you have any specific enquiries relating to parks and countryside you can contact 

Operations and Greenspace 03 January 2024.  


Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has the responsibility for public rights of way. Although the majority of rights of way within the Borough are shortcuts from one road to another, we do have a number of rural Rights of Way which form routes such as parts of the Pennine Way among others.

Tameside's varied landscape is well worth exploring and 264km of public rights of way provide public access to attractions and countryside alike.

Tameside currently has 875 Rights of Way recorded on the Definitive Map.

These break down to 810 Footpaths measuring 233km, 41 Bridleways at 22km and 18 Restricted Byways equating to 9km. There are currently no Byways Open to All Traffic (BOAT) in Tameside.

This page introduces Tameside's public rights of way. Including where to find them, what your rights are, and what responsibilities we as the local Highway Authority have to maintain this commodity.

What are Public Rights of Way?

Public rights of way are public highways and are recorded on a Definitive Map and Statement. These documents provide a legal record of these rights of way. If a way is shown on the map, it is conclusive evidence of public rights along the way and can only be altered by a confirmed legal event, such as an Extinguishing or Diversion Order. However, the omission of a public right of way from the Definitive Map is not evidence that no right of way exists. Maps can be amended if evidence of missing Rights of Way is discovered, or to correct errors in previously recorded information.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council has a responsibility to keep this map up-to-date. The definitive map and statement can be inspected free of charge at the Council Offices.

Definitions of Public Rights of Way

Public rights for routes shown on the definitive footpath map and statement for Tameside.

Footpath : A public right of way on foot.

Bridleway : A public right of way on foot, on horseback and for cyclists. Cyclists must give way to both walkers and horse riders.

Restricted Byways : A public right of way on foot, on horseback, for cycles and for horse drawn carriages.

Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) : A public right of way on foot, on horseback, for cyclists and for all vehicles.

Permissive Routes : When a landowner has given special permission for the public to travel over their land. The landowner can grant any rights over the land that they wish. The council does not maintain these paths and they are not recorded on the definitive map. The landowner may withdraw their permission at any time.

Users of a public right of way may take 'usual accompaniments' with them. These include prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs and dogs.

Public's Rights and Responsibilities

Some examples of the many legal rights and responsibilities of the general public are listed below:

Users may:

  • Pass and re-pass on a Public Right of Way;
  • Stop to look at the view, take a photograph, sit down to rest and so on;
  • Take a pram, pushchair, wheelchair, but expect to encounter stiles on some footpaths and bridleways;
  • Take a dog, but always under close control;
  • Remove an illegal obstacle sufficiently to get past.

Users may not:

  • Roam over land at will, deviating from the line of the Right of Way unless it is to pass an obstruction;
  • Use a vehicle on a Byway if it is not registered, taxed and insured, or to drive recklessly, carelessly or without due consideration of others;
  • Use a Right of Way for any purpose other than as a right of passage;
  • Cause any unnecessary damage;

Your rights:

  • Lack of use has no effect on the legal existence of a Right of Way;
  • You must leave land to which you have no legal right of access if asked to do so by the owner or his representative;
  • A newly created footpath should be wide enough for two walkers to pass in comfort. A Bridleway should allow two horses to pass each other comfortably;
  • Cyclists and horse riders must not use footpaths unless given permission by the landowner;
  • Cyclists must give way to riders and walkers on bridleways;
  • When walking or riding in groups, please travel in single file where necessary and do not spread out beyond the width of the path.


Bulls, Dogs and Other Animals on Public Rights of Way



Section 59 of the WCA 1981 makes it an offence, subject to important exceptions, for the occupier of a field crossed by a right of way to cause or allow a bull to be at large in it.

The exceptions are:

  • bulls not more than ten months old; and
  • bulls which are not of a recognised dairy breed and which are at large with cows or heifers.

Dairy breeds are:

Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey, Kerry.


Where a dog effectively prevents use of a way, for example by standing in the middle of a path facing oncomers with snarls and bared teeth, or where it merely frightens users, for example by running round them barking in a threatening manner, it constitutes a public nuisance at common law, since the dog impedes the free use of the way.

Animals in general

Section 2 of the Animals Act 1971 makes the keeper of an animal liable for damages if it injures another person provided that the keeper was aware of the animal's tendency to cause injury.

Council's Responsibilities

The Council is responsible for:

  • Recording, defining and protecting all public rights of way in the borough. The Definitive Map and Statement is a legal document which records the alignment and status of routes. It is conclusive proof that a public right of way exists, and provides safeguards even when it is not apparent on the ground. The Definitive Map and Statement is constantly under review to reflect changes in the network, such as path diversions or new Rights of Way which have been added. Applications can be made to the Council to add, delete or revise the status of a public Right of Way if there is clear evidence for such a change;
  • Signposting footpaths, bridleways and byways, where they leave a metalled road and waymarking along the paths where appropriate;
  • Maintaining and controlling vegetation on the surface of a Right of Way;
  • Manage the law concerning Rights of Way, which involves investigating complaints and taking appropriate action. This may lead to enforcement or legal action to ensure public access.


Getting the Map and Statement Changed

Rights may exist over a way not shown on the definitive map; or additional rights may exist over a way shown on the map even though they are not recorded on it; or rights may have been recorded in error.

There are procedures by which allegations that the definitive map does not record the correct information can be considered. They allow a local authority to make a definitive map modification order to amend the rights recorded on the map and statement.

If a route has been used by the public as of right for a period of 20 years or more then public rights could exist. The council holds no information on these routes until a public right of way is claimed. The claim will add the route to the definitive footpath map and statement and give legal protection to the public rights along its length.

If you wish to claim a public right of way then please contact the Public Rights of Way Officer.

Rights Of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP)

Tameside MBC is currently producing a document called the Rights of Way Improvement Plan that will dictate how the rights of way network is to be managed over the next ten years. The plan will relate to all off-road routes and will identify ways in which this network can help to improve the quality of life for both residents and visitors to the borough

In order that the Council may produce an improvement plan to serve the public well, it is vital that we are informed of what the public expect from this plan and what they think the strengths and weaknesses of the existing rights of way network are. Earlier consultation has led to the production of a draft version of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. You can download a copy of this draft Improvement Plan Link to Adobe PDF file or you can obtain a copy by contacting the Public Rights of Way Officer.

Definitive Map and Statement

To view the Definitive Maps & Statement please contact to make an appointment. Alternatively you can view a digitised version of the Definitive Map online.

Online Registers


Contacting Us/Reporting Problems

For general enquiries about the Definitive Map and Statement, or searches and claims for amendments and additions, please contact us.

If you find a problem on any public right of way in Tameside, please report it. To ensure prompt action it would help if you could advise us of the path number or where the route starts and finishes (to the nearest road), with a clear description of the problem.


Contact information

Send us a message
Public Rights of Way Section
Tame Street Depot
Tame Street
SK15 1ST
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