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Rights of way – helping you discover East Sussex
Read the reports on the result of our consultation, Shaping the future of our countryside access.
East Sussex has around 2,000 miles (3,218km) of footpaths, bridleways and byways. These public rights of way give access to some of the most beautiful countryside in the County.
The County Council manages these paths so that they give safe and easy access for the public.
Your rights – who can go where?
A right of way is a route across privately owned land that the public are legally allowed to use. The different types of rights of way, and who can use them, are listed below.
- Public footpath – for use by walkers only. You can use a pushchair or wheelchair on a footpath, although the nature of the path means this may not be possible.
- Public bridleway – can be used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horse riders.
- Byway open to all traffic – sometimes referred to as Byways, BOATs or Green Lanes. Can be used by motorised vehicles, horse-drawn carriages, cyclists, horse-riders and walkers. Find out more about byways.
- Restricted byway – can be used by walkers, cyclists, horse riders and horse-drawn carriages.
You may also find licensed footpaths and bridleways in East Sussex. These are routes over which the landowner has given permission to allow public access across their land.
Open Access land
You can walk freely on mapped areas of downland, heathland and registered common land, as well as mountains and moors. Find out more and view maps of open access land in England:
- Find rights of way in East Sussex
- Download our Rights of Way network data, see Rights of Way open data.
Ordnance Survey (OS):
- Explorer maps are the main maps used by walkers and riders. They show lanes, footpaths and rights of way, including ‘right to roam’ access areas as defined by the Countryside Agency.
- Landranger maps will be more useful for those on weekend breaks or travelling longer distances by car.
Explorer and Landranger maps can be borrowed from your local library – see maps in libraries and archives.
You can buy maps from the Ordnance Survey website:
Report a problem
Our online fault reporting system allows you tell us what and where the problem is. You can also attach a photograph:
Alternatively, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our Contact Centre on 0345 6080193.
Temporary path closures
Occasionally, we have to temporarily close a public right of way to protect the safety of path users.
Some public byways are also closed to four-wheeled vehicles between October and March to protect vulnerable path surfaces during the winter.
If work you are planning affects a public right of way, you can also apply for a temporary path closure
Public Rights of Way – Responsibilities
The County Council is responsible for maintaining bridges over natural watercourses, path surfaces, signposting and for clearing surface vegetation.
Landowners are responsible for maintaining stiles and gates. They should also keep any side vegetation (for example, hedges) cut back. Landowners must also make sure that any paths across their land are kept free from obstruction.
Where a path crosses a ploughed or cropped field, the landowner must also reinstate the path within 14 days of ploughing or crop planting.
Path users have a responsibilty to keep to the legal line of a path – their dogs should also be kept under close control.
District Councils are responsible for clearing litter from public paths.
The Definitive Map & Statement
The official record of all public rights of way is the Definitive Map and Statement. Together, these documents show the legal line of rights of way in East Sussex.
For more information, including viewing the Definitive Map or making a Highways Act 1980 section 31(6) deposition, see our pages on the Definitive Map – rights of way in East Sussex.
Volunteer in the countryside
Become a parish rights of way volunteer, help us get rid of Dutch Elm Disease or find out how to become a tree warden:
The Countryside Code makes it clear what the responsibilities are for both the public and people who manage land.