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Public rights of way

A public right of way is a route which anyone has the right to pass along without hindrance or obstruction. In law, public rights of way are highways, which are subject to the same legal protection as any other public highway.

Public rights of way are classified according to the type of use which is permitted on them:

  • public footpath - a way for use only by walkers
  • public bridleway - a way for use by walkers, horses and cycles
  • byway open to all traffic (BOAT) - a way which carries vehicular rights but which is used mainly by walkers, horses and cycles
  • restricted byway - a way for use by walkers, horses and cycles, as well as non-mechanically propelled vehicles

The use of motor vehicles is not permitted on public footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways. 

Gateshead has nearly 300km of public rights of way which form a network stretching from Wardley in the east to Chopwell in the west.

Report a public rights of way issue

If you encounter an issue on any of Gateshead's public rights of way, please let us know.

Report a public rights of way issue

If the problem you're reporting is a fly-tip, please use our fly-tipping form.

Report fly-tipping


Information about access, usage rules and and ownership of rights of way.
This is the legal record of all known public rights of way in Gateshead.
Your responsibilities when walking your dog in the countryside.
Rules on how you can use common land and town and village greens.
Information about the signs and symbols used on public rights of way.