Public Rights of Way

Article 3 of the Access to the Countryside (NI) Order 1983 places each district Council under a duty to assert, protect and keep open any public right of way and to compile and preserve maps of the rights of way in its area. 

A public right of way: 
• must connect two public places 
• is a highway which any members of the public may use as of right; not a privilege granted by the landowner 
• may be limited to certain types of user, for example walkers only or walkers and horse riders 
• is a permanent legal entity and remains in existence unless and until the path is extinguished or diverted by legal process 
• must be respected by the occupier and landowner, who should do nothing to obstruct the right of way or prevent or intimidate anyone from exercising their rights of passage

A public right of way does not include a road or any other way which is maintained by a government department. 

There are three different types of public rights of way:  
• footpath – open to walkers only 
• bridleway – open to walkers and horse-riders  
• carriageway – open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles 

Evidence forms must be provided before an assertion of a public right of way can take place. The strongest evidence is normally that given by witness who have used the path themselves or known of its use from their own personal experience, or persons who can testify to a continuous use for over 20 years.  

Examples of Documentary evidence required may include the following:

• plans 
• maps  
• guide books  
• records of proceedings  
• title deeds or similar documents 

A list of Public Rights of Way with accompanying maps is currently under review and will be added to this website shortly. 

Evidence Forms can be found below and should be returned to the Rights of Way Officer.

For further information or paper copies of evidence forms, please contact: 
Heather Cannavan, Rights of Way Officer  
Ards and North Down Borough Council, Town Hall, The Castle Bangor BT20 4BT. 
Tel: 0300 013 3333 ext. 40713.  Email:  heather.cannavan@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk