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Private rights of way to gain access to your own property - either on foot, or with vehicles or animals, are very important, and sometimes overlooked until a problem has arisen. New rights of way are essential when part of a property is bought or sold. Rights of way exercised for many years, but not recorded in writing, may be claimed - or purchased by negotiation with the owner of the land involved.
Public rights of way are open to the general public. They include, for example, footpaths, bridlepaths and roadways. Landowners may wish to divert a public right of way to a distance further from their residential or agricultural property, or apply to close the path completely. The local Highways Authority may approach a landowner with a view to creating a new public right of way over a property. Some landowners agree to open private routes to the public on a 'permissive' basis, or for only certain times of year.
The 'right to roam' over 'open country' is a new form of public access which has been introduced in 2005. The Countryside Agency has mapped the land it considers to be 'open country' - which is mostly, but not always, upland and hill/moor. Owners and occupiers of land included on the provisional maps were able to appeal against the inclusion of their land; and can apply for restrictions to limit public access in certain circumstances.