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A wooden stile in Esha Ness, Shetland

A stile is a structure or opening that provides people passage over or through a boundary via steps, ladders, or narrow gaps.[1] Stiles are often built in rural areas along footpaths, fences, walls, or hedges that enclose animals, allowing people to move freely.[2]


Bridge-shaped stile in Hanbury, Worcestershire

In the United Kingdom many stiles were built under legal compulsion (see Rights of way in the United Kingdom). Recent changes in UK government policy towards farming have encouraged upland landowners to make access more available to the public, and this has seen an increase in the number of stiles and an improvement in their overall condition. However stiles are deprecated[3] and are increasingly being replaced by gates or kissing gates or, where the field is arable, the stile removed. Many legacy stiles remain, however, in a variety of forms (as is also the case in the US, where there is no standard). As well as having a variety of forms, stiles also sometimes include a 'dog latch' or 'dog gate' to the side of them, which can be lifted to enable a dog to get through (see pictures below).

A squeeze stile

An alternative form of stile is a squeeze stile, which is commonly used where footpaths cross dry stone walls in England. With this type of stile there is a vertical gap in the wall, usually no more than 25 centimetres (9.8 in) wide, and often with stone pillars on either side to protect the structure of the wall. The gap must be narrow enough to prevent livestock getting through.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Definition of STILE". Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Country crossings: a stile guide". Country Life. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  3. ^ British Standard BS5709:2018 Gaps Gates & Stiles (ISBN 978 0 580 98210 1)