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This article is about paths for use by pedestrians that are not next to a road. For paths beside roads, see Sidewalk. For other uses, see Footpath (disambiguation).
An urban footpath in Ipswich, United Kingdom
A riverside footpath in Richmond, London - United Kingdom
A rural footpath with a stile in Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Main article: Trail

A footpath (also pedestrian way, walking trail, nature trail) is a type of thoroughfare that is intended for use only by pedestrians and not other forms of traffic such as motorized vehicles, cycles, and horses. They can be paths within an urban area, or rural paths through the countryside. Urban footpaths are usually paved, may have steps, and can be called alleys, lanes, steps, etc. In England and Wales, there are rights of way on which pedestrians have a legally protected right to travel.

National parks, nature preserves, conservation areas and other protected wilderness areas may have footpaths (trails) that are restricted to pedestrians.[1]

Other public rights of way, such as bridleways, byways, towpaths, and green lanes are also used by pedestrians.

The term footpath can also describe a pavement/sidewalk in some English-speaking countries.


Many footpaths require some maintenance. Most rural paths have an earth or grass surface with stiles, and or gates, including kissing gates. A few will have stepping stones, fords, or bridges. Urban footpaths may be constructed of masonry, brick, concrete, asphalt, cut stone or wood boardwalk. Crushed rock, decomposed granite, fine wood chips are also used. The construction materials can vary over the length of the footpath and may start with a well constructed hard surface in an urban area, and end with an inexpensive soft or loose surface in the countryside. Stairs or steps are sometimes found in urban alleys, or cliff paths to beaches.

Footpath issues[edit]

The main issues in urban areas include maintenance, litter, crime, and lighting after dark. In the countryside there are issues relating to conflicts between walkers and livestock, and these occasionally result in people being injured or even killed. Dogs often contribute to such conflicts - see Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. Also footpaths in remote locations can be difficult to maintain and a route along a country path can be impeded by ploughing, crops, overgrown vegetation, illegal barriers (including barbed wire), damaged stiles, etc.

Definitive path maps[edit]

Footpaths and other rights of way in England and Wales are shown on definitive maps. A definitive map is a record of public rights of way in England and Wales. In law it is the definitive record of where a right of way is located. The highway authority (normally the county council, or unitary authority in areas with a one-tier system) has a statutory duty to maintain a definitive map, though in national parks the National Park Authority usually maintains the map. The Inner London boroughs are exempt from the statutory duty though they have the powers to maintain a map: currently none does so.[2]

Types of footpaths[edit]

Footpath Map: A designed network shown in blue provides easy accessibility around the town of Kesgrave, Suffolk, England.

Footpaths can be located in different settings for various uses. These can include:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]