Rights of way

Public rights of way are open to everyone and you've got the right to walk on them or use them for other leisure activities, such as cycling or riding a horse.

They can be roads, paths or tracks and they can run through towns, countryside and even private properties.

Public rights of way are usually one of the following:

  • Footpaths for pedestrians
  • Bridleways for pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists
  • Restricted byways for pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists and horse and carts

Map of the rights of way network

We hold a definitive map of the rights of way network, accompanied with a statement to describe each of the routes. The map and statements are conclusive evidence that the rights contained on the map exist.

Our definitive map is not available to view online.

Please email us at environmental.management@rochdale.gov.uk to arrange a viewing in person.

Length of the rights of way network

Our right of way network totals 552km, which means we've got one of the largest rights of way networks in Greater Manchester.

80% of our network is footpaths for anyone to use on foot, while 20% are bridleways and restricted byways for use by non-motorised vehicles, horse riders, cyclists and pedestrians.


We're responsible for the management of public rights of way, except where they run across private land.

On private land, responsibility is shared between us and the landowner.

Changes to our right of way network

You can ask us to add something or change something on the definitive map and statement by emailing us at environmental.management@rochdale.gov.uk.

If we decide to make any changes to our right of way network, we'll let you know by posting a notice of the planned changes on our legal notices page.

View legal notices for changes to our right of way network

Permissive routes

A permissive route is where a landowner gives permission for people to walk across their land.

We do not record these on the definitive map and the landowner can refuse access over these routes at any time.


It's against the law to obstruct a definitive route.

Obstructions include:

  • A fence, wall or building across the route.
  • The presence of a vicious dog or another animal.
  • Overgrown grass, flowers, weeds and other vegetation.