Maintaining public rights of way

We're responsible for making sure that public rights of way are free from obstructions and that the general public can use them freely and safely. 

We inspect and survey them regularly as part of an ongoing improvement programme and, from May to October, we clear as many paths as we can to keep them free of surface vegetation. 

Landowner/householder responsibilities

As most of the public rights of way in Barnsley cross private land, landowners are legally responsible for making sure that they remain open and easily accessible.

It's an offence for a landowner to restrict access by erecting locked gates, misleading signs, fencing (including electric and barbed wire fencing), farm machinery or vegetation, or to intimidate users in any way.


Landowners and householders also have a legal responsibility to make sure that overhanging vegetation (trees, hedges, shrubs, crops) is regularly cut back so that it doesn't encroach on to a right of way, and for removing any waste off the path.

If a landowner fails to keep the right of way clear, we can remove vegetation causing an obstruction, but we may charge the offender for the cost of doing so.

Ploughing and cropping

If you're a landowner and you have to plough a cross-field path, you're legally responsible for making sure that the path is visible and fit for the public to use within 14 days of starting ploughing, and within 24 hours of any further activity during the year. The path must remain open and visible throughout the growth of the crop.

Paths that run alongside the edge of a field shouldn't be ploughed or disturbed at any time.

Stiles and gates

As a landowner, you're responsible for making sure that any stiles and gates on your property are maintained to a suitable standard, although we can help in erecting and repairing stiles and gates if necessary. If you want to erect a new gate or stile, you need our permission. We'll class any that are erected without permission as an illegal obstruction and we may take legal action.

Bulls and livestock

It's an offence to keep a bull of a recognised dairy breed in a field crossed by a right of way if it's over ten months old. Bulls of other breeds are also banned, unless they're accompanied by cows or heifers.

Never keep an animal that you know to be dangerous on land crossed by a right of way.