Definitive map of public rights of way

The legal record of public rights of way in North Yorkshire. Apply for diversions, temporary closures and other changes to rights of way.

The definitive map is conclusive evidence of the rights of way shown on it. The statement is a description of the rights of way shown on the map, and sometimes records widths and gates and stiles that existed when the map was drawn up. Not all paths are shown on the definitive map, however, as there may be paths that have been used by the public for many years and so have acquired public rights, but are not recorded on the definitive map.

The definitive map for my area

We have more than 10,000km of rights of way in the county, covered by the 11 definitive maps we maintain. You can see them at County Hall, Northallerton. Contact us to make an appointment.

You can see where the rights of way in North Yorkshire are on our online maps. The data on this map is for information only, it is not an extract of the definitive map and should not be relied on for determining the position or alignment of any public right of way.

Please note that just because a path is not shown on this map does not mean that a right of way does not exist; there may be paths that have been used by the public for many years and so have acquired public rights, but that are not recorded on the definitive map. If you would like to know more details about the alignment of a particular right of way please contact us

This map shows public rights of way in the whole of the county, including the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks. If you have any queries or issues with paths in the national parks please contact the rights of way teams in the relevant national park authority.

View public rights of way

Further information

Changes to the network and the definitive map

Rights of way are protected by law. Unless stopped up by legal means, they remain highways even if they are little used or not obvious on the ground. Rights of way can be moved, added to or deleted from the definitive map, but the correct legal procedure must be followed. Rights of way can also be added to the map or have their status amended through a definitive map modification order.


Landowners can apply to us to move or divert a public right of way under the Highways Act 1980, if they can show that it is in their interest, for example, moving a footpath out of a busy farmyard or moving a cross-field path to a route around the field edge, and that the new route is not substantially less convenient for users. Public consultation is part of the process, so anyone can object to a proposed diversion. Landowners usually have to pay the costs of processing and advertising a diversion order. Diversion orders can take months to complete. We currently have a waiting list. Find out more, including charges, in our guidance notesContact the diversions officer for more information

Public rights of way can also be diverted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, if they will be affected by development, such as building a new housing estate. See the rights of way and development page for details.

Natural England have developed a guide to the definitive map and changes to public rights of way.

Creation agreements

Landowners can dedicate new rights of way across their land through a creation agreement. Once a route has been added to the definitive map, the responsibility for the upkeep of its surface is usually taken over by us. Contact us for more information.

Definitive map modification orders

Anyone can apply to us to make a definitive map modification order if they believe the map and statement are wrong. Evidence can be either historic, evidence of use, or both. User evidence must show that the route has been used by the public, uninterrupted and without challenge for at least 20 years. Landowners can dispute an application, if they can show that they had no intention to dedicate the route as a right of way. You can get further advice and information on our Guidance Notes on making a Definitive Map Modification Order application page.

Applications can take many months to resolve once a case is started. We have over 250 applications on file. These are dealt with based on the date the application was received, oldest first, and it can take many years before an application is started. You can view the definitive map modification order register here.

As a result of a change in the law, any application to add a byway open to all traffic made after 20 January 2005 will be considered as an application for a restricted byway, unless it meets the exception criteria. Restricted byways can be used on foot, horseback, pedal cycle and horse-drawn vehicles, but cannot be used by any motorised vehicles.

If you are a landowner or occupier and have been sent WCA Form B notifying you of an application for a definitive map modification order you can visit our page on Guidance Notes for Landowners.

Natural England have developed a guide to the definitive map and changes to public rights of way.

Extinguishments / stopping up

Rights of way can be permanently stopped up or "extinguished" through an extinguishment order. This is rare, as the applicant must provide evidence that the path is not needed for public use, which cannot be simply that the path is not well used.

Further information is available on our guidance notes and charges pageContact the diversions officer for more information.

Records of rights of way across your land - Section 31(6) deposits

Landowners can protect themselves against public rights of way claims based solely on public use by depositing with us a map, highways statement and highways declaration showing which public rights of way exist, if any, over their land. This is known as a deposit under Section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980, and needs to be renewed every twenty years.

From the date of the deposit a landowner will protect their land from additional public rights being claimed through public use, however it is still possible for a right of way to be established through twenty years of continuous and uninterrupted use before the deposit was made. A public right of way can also be established if historical evidence is found which shows that a public right of way exists or is reasonably alleged to exist.

Landowners can also take actions to prevent public rights of way being established, for example by clearly displaying notices on a route to say that it is private, by locking gates for periods of time, and by maintaining fences and boundary walls. These actions must be clearly noticeable, so that it is obvious to a member of the public that the route is private. We keep a record of Section 31(6) deposits for the public to see at County Hall and on the website.

With effect from 1 October 2013 applications for a Section 31(6) registration must be submitted, amended or renewed using a prescribed government form - Form CA16. Fees will be charged, appropriate to the land size and complexity, for a Section 31(6) registration; see our Guidance Notes below for details.

Guidance on Section 31 deposits gives information about making a declaration of rights of way on your land.

Temporary closures

By law, we have the powers to temporarily close public rights of way. We can only do this if it is necessary for works to be carried out, and a suitable alternative route must be provided for the public to use. Pedestrian access to properties must not be obstructed.

  • Under section 14(1) of the road traffic act, public rights of way can be closed for up to six months. Requests must be submitted at least four weeks before the closure is required.
  • Section 14(2)a of the road traffic act allows for short-term closures for up to five consecutive days, including weekends. Requests must be made two weeks in advance of when the closure is required.
  • Under section 14(2)b of the road traffic act public rights of way can be closed in an emergency for up to 21 days. The path must be inaccessible or dangerous to the public for the council to use an emergency closure. Closure will be effective from the next working day.

Costs for temporary closures can be found in the application form.

Requests for temporary closures must be made in writing, enclosing a plan showing the route to be closed and alternative routes.  

 Download a temporary closure application form (pdf / 141 KB)

You can read advice and information on our Temporary Closure application guidance notes page.

Please contact us for more information or to apply for a temporary closure.

Applications for gates and stiles

If a farmer or landowner wishes to put up a new fence or wall across a right of way, with a gate or stile to make sure the right of way is not obstructed, they must get our permission. New gates and stiles will only be authorised if they are needed to control livestock. Contact us for advice.

Download a guide

Download the Natural England Guide to the Definitive Map and changes to public rights of way for detailed information about the legal procedures and requirements for making changes to the definitive map and statement.