Blackburn and Darwen have over 500km of public rights of way - the majority being footpaths. A public right of way is a class of public highway and may be used by members of the public at any time to pass and repass.

Public rights of way come into existence through dedication by the landowner. In some cases, a landowner may decide to dedicate a route over his/her land to the public. This is known as express dedication and is rare.

In the majority of cases, a public right of way can be created because it can be inferred from the actions of the landowner that he/she intended to dedicate a public right of way over their land. This is known as inferred or implied dedication and includes situations whereby members of the public have had uninterrupted use of a route for 20 years or more.
If you currently use a route that is not recorded on our definitive map, you may apply for it to be recorded under section 53(5) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is a criminal offence to wilfully obstruct a public right of way. If you encounter an obstruction on a public right of way, please report it to us and we will seek the removal of the obstruction.

Report a problem with a public right of way

Public rights of way are classified according to who can use them:

  • Public footpaths may be used on foot only. You are allowed to take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair along a public footpath; however in many cases, the nature of the footpath may be unsuitable for them.
  • Public bridleways may be used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horse riders.
  • Restricted byways are open to walkers, horse riders, cyclists and carriage drivers but not vehicular traffic.
  • Byways open to all traffic (BOATs) are carriageways. They are maintained to the level of an adopted road and may or may not be surfaced; therefore it may be unsuitable for normal road traffic. They are a right of way for:
    • vehicular traffic
    • pedestrians
    • horse riders
    • cyclists.

The only byway open to all traffic in the borough has a legal order in place preventing its use by vehicle traffic.