Countryside access and recording rights of way

03 April 2020

Council - 'Path Closed' signs are illegal

From Highland Council website

The Highland Council’s Access Officers have become aware of several illegal ad hoc signs appearing on paths and access routes saying that they are closed. These signs are misleading, so the team is taking this opportunity to remind everyone about the current COVID-19 outdoor access guidance.

Outdoor Access and Long Distance Route Manager, Philip Waite said: “We want to remind everyone that the Rights of Responsible Access still apply and parts of the countryside are not closed."

More information and current guidance

Ramblers push to record rights of way

From 1 January 2026, it will no longer be possible to add rights of way to the legal record (the definitive map) in England and Wales on the basis of historical evidence.  The Ramblers' 'Don't lose your Way' campaign aims to identify and claim unrecorded routes, many of which go back centuries, before the 2026 cut off so they can be secured for generations to come.

In England, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has the power to extend the cut-off date. The Ramblers believe that the time is right to extend the cut-off to 2031 to enable all these historic paths to be recorded.

Ramblers' 'Don't Lose Your Way' campaign  (England and Wales)
2026 and the case for postponement

Rights of way also exist in Scotland but there is no definitive map and they are not marked on OS maps.  Far fewer rights of way have been secured than south of the border.  Many paths may not be shown on maps but actually do exist on the ground, particularly for more popular routes.

Paths in Scotland  overview
Ramblers Scotland website
Ramblers'  'Mapping Scotland's Paths'  project


We are part of the rapidly expanding worldwide Transition Towns movement. The Black Isle is a peninsula of about 100 sq miles ENE of Inverness in Scotland, UK.