Big Sur Hiking Map

IN ENGLAND AND WALES

While on a right of way, you, as a hiker, are entitled to:

• pass along the path.

• re-pass along the path – in other words you can walk in either direction an unlimited number of times (although this is most likely to happen if you are temporarily misplaced)

• stop to admire the view and take photographs.

• stop to have a bite to eat or drink – but you may not cause a blockage (this refers to you physically blocking the right of way, as opposed to the effects of the low fibre content of your packed lunch)

• use any ‘natural accompaniment’ – for example, items such as pushchairs and wheelchairs… even a dog. However, being entitled to take a pushchair doesn’t mean you will be able to get it down the path. And being entitled to take a dog doesn’t mean it will loyally accompany you.

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It might have more sense.

DEFINITIVE MAPS

First off, definitive maps aren’t definitive. This has nothing to do with the fact that they are maintained by local authorities. It was an attempt by the government in 1949 to clarify the law of paths and rights of way that created these ambiguous ‘definitive’ maps. County councils were given the legal responsibility of administering a map, detailing all the rights of way in their area. The only way to do this was to consult the local parishes and communities, and then try to identify a compromise where disputes arose. As a result, some rights of way were mistakenly omitted while others that weren’t rights of way in the first place were included. This means that if a path appears on a definitive map, it’s evidence of a legal right of way, even if it wasn’t such before said map was drawn up. However, if a right of way doesn’t appear on a definitive map, this doesn’t mean it definitely isn’t a right of way; it might be. But then again, it might not be. It’s also possible for new rights of way to be created, and these won’t show on definitive maps until someone gets around to updating them The bluffer will note that the dictionary definition of ‘definitive’ has broadened (even though the paths haven’t).

If members of the public have used a path for 20 years without being challenged, thinking that it is a right of way, the law assumes that the landowner intended the path to be used in this way, even if it has not been declared a right of way. So next time the postman hops over your garden fence as a shortcut to deliver your neighbour’s post, consider how long he has been doing this before setting your dog loose on him.

Non-hikers tend to think that a footpath is a footpath. That’s like saying a country lane is the same as a motorway, simply because it is possible to drive a car down both of them A right of way can be designated as any of the following:

• a footpath.

• a bridleway.

• a RUPP (see next page; this has since been renamed a restricted byway)

• a BOAT (see next page)

• a permissive path.

These varieties in footpath classification are recorded on maps, and therefore supposedly assist hikers with navigation. Experienced hikers (and knowledgeable bluffers) tend to reclassify them as one of the following:

• overgrown.

• passable.

• a country lane that the highways department has forgotten and which is now blocked by an HGV driver who believed the sat nav on his dashboard was correct.

• routes requiring an ‘every man for himself’ approach.

• a nice idea in principle.

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