Isle of Wight Council

Public Rights of Way

Useful Information

How to report a problem on a public footpath, bridleway or byway

The easiest way is to email Be specific in your location and give as much detail of whereabouts the problem is so we can easily find it again.  You can email a photo (but make sure the size is not massive), photos should show the problem in relation to the surroundings (a close up of a muddy puddle or zooming in on some long grass and brambles is not helpful)  .

If you are interested in helping out with minor maintenance problems, such has trimming overgrown vegetation away from gates or stiles, or moving a sign arm back into position please refer to the following website called Minor Maintenance on Isle of Wight Paths  which is kindly run by a volunteer from the IW Ramblers Association.

Isle of Wight Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP)

We recognise the importance of maintaining and improving the network of public rights of way, and its first Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP), published in 2006, has been authoritative in decisions taken in recent years.

A comprehensive reassessment of rights of way and a review of the 2006 Plan was undertaken by the Isle of Wight Council during 2016. The results of that process show that the main aims of the 2006 Plan are still appropriate for meeting the public’s current needs from the network, and that much of the detailed information contained in it remains relevant today. The 2006 Plan, as originally published, is therefore to be retained as active policy with the updated ROWIP functioning as a policy update to incorporate new information gained during the 2016 review process.

View the 2006 ROWIP.

View the 2018 ROWIP update

Ploughing and cropping

View the guidance notice on ploughing and cropping

Trees and hedges

The ongoing maintenance of hedges and trees that run alongside public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways and byways, which are legally “highways”) are the responsibility of the owner of the land they are planted on. In limited places that land may belong to the council but more commonly the land will be in private ownership. Read more about trees, hedges and rights of way

Electric fencing

View the guidance notice on electric fencing.

Stiles& Gates

View the guidance notice on stiles & gates

Events on public rights of way

View the guidance notice regarding events wanting to be held on public right of way


Private or Unadopted Roads with Public Rights of Way

View the guidance notice for private/unadopted roads which also have a public right of way along them

Dogs on public rights of way 

Dogs are considered a ‘usual accompaniment’ of a user of a Public Right of Way (PROW). There is no actual rule requiring that dogs must be kept on a lead whilst on a PROW, although there is a requirement that they are kept under control and confined to the line of the path and on a lead when you pass through an enclosure with sheep.  You must at all times remove and dispose of responsibly any dog mess.  There are some Public Space Protection Order's (PSPO) on a few PROW when passing through certain fields which hold livestock, which mean dogs must be on leads. 

Dogs and stiles 

Landowners may wire up gaps to stop their stock animals escaping and this sometimes means a dog cannot make it under their own steam over a stile and it will need to be lifted by its owner. There is no duty imposed on landowners or the Council's Public Rights of Way Team to provide a dog gap next to a stile, and in cases where adjacent gaps have been wired up the Councils Rights of Way team do not have the resources to try and negotiate with landowners or fund special dog gates. 

Dogs and livestock 

It is an offence for a dog to be at large in a field or enclosure where there are livestock, unless the dog is owned by the landowner, is a working gun dog, a trained sheep dog, a police dog or part of a pack of hounds. ‘At large’ is defined as not on a lead or otherwise under close control.

It is also an offence to allow a dog to chase or attack livestock. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing livestock without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

An interesting article 'Your legal rights on shooting dogs on your land' (dated 20 September 2012) appears on the Farmers Weekly website, click here to view the article. 

Isle of Wight dog control orders 

The Isle of Wight currently has a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). Our Environment Officers enforce these orders and the full order wording can be read on our Environment Officer web page

Further information guides can be found by accessing the links below:

The Kennel Club have produced a helpful guide called 'Do you know dog law'.

Information and guidance on walking your dog out in public -  A Dog Walking Code.