When it comes to rules, I’ll hold my hands up and admit to – very occasionally - bending or pushing them as far as they’ll go. However, when it comes to walking, I’m an avid follower in the rules and agree in dotting the t’s and crossing the i’s wherever I can.
As someone who takes people for walks on a regular basis, I need to be aware of all the things you can and can’t do when leading a group of ramblers. As the ‘about us’ page states on my website; Cornish Ramblings is a group full of ‘novice walkers, keen hikers, sturdy stompers, active explorers, fair-weather adventurers, hill seekers, coastal lovers, woodland ramblers and most importantly...walking addicts.’
With this in mind, I’m aware that many of those who come on a walk may not be as savvy to the guidelines as those who are doing it as a profession, or as clued up as the more regular walkers.
Firstly, let’s clear up one question that’s asked frequently.
What is a right of way?
Legally, “a public right of way is part of the Queen's highway and is subject to the same protection in law as all other highways” (gov.co.uk). Basically, it's a path you have a legal right to use on foot. However, there are a few variations to these rights of ways;
1. Public footpaths: these footpaths are only open to walkers
2. Public bridleways: these are open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists
3. Restricted Byways: these are open to walkers, horse-riders, cyclists AND drivers/riders of non-motorised vehicles (such as a horse and carriage)
4. Byways Open to All Traffic, or BOATs for short: These byways are open to all classes of traffic, including motor vehicles, but may not be maintained to the same standard as ordinary roads.
There are one or two rules I try sticking to when walking individually or as a group. Some are common sense, others an etiquette, and the rest are Highway Code requirements.