Public Rights of Way

Open Access Land and Permissive Paths

Open Access Land

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), the public are permitted to walk freely on mapped areas of open country and registered common land without having to stay on paths. The rights came into effect across all of England on 31 October 2005 and cover most recreational activities carried out on foot.

Mapped areas of Open Access Land are shown on current Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps and can also be viewed by clicking here:

Please note: Dogs must be kept on a lead of no more than 2m long between 1st March and 31st July (the main breeding period for ground-nesting birds) or at any time of year when near livestock.

The CROW Act also allows a landowner to exclude or restrict access in certain circumstances.  Details of any current restrictions or exclusions affecting a particular area are shown when searching on the map link above.

Any restrictions do not affect public rights of way recorded on the Definitive Map. The public rights along footpaths, bridleways and byways remain the same on the line of the path.  

There is no new entitlement to ride a horse, a bicycle or use any other mechanical transport; to camp, hang-glide or paraglide, use a metal detector, take part in organised games or commercial activities, swim, use boats or windsurfers in non-tidal rivers or lakes; or remove anything from the area – including stones, fallen wood or plants. However, existing rights such as riding a horse or a bicycle along a public bridleway are not affected.

Further information about visiting Open Access Land and the rights and responsibilities can be viewed on Natural England’s website - click here

Permissive Paths

As well as Public Rights of Way and Open Access Land, some landowners provide permissive access to their land for walking, cycling or horse riding. Permissive access means access is given by the consent of the landowner rather than as a public right of way recorded on the Definitive Map.

It is difficult to know about permissive access paths and you will normally discover them as you visit locations, through local  knowledge, finding leaflets or spotting signs out on site.  If the Rights of Way team are made aware of a permissive route we will add details here, but the way is not maintained by the Council or protected from obstruction like a way shown on the definitive map. 

Permissive Routes :

RSPB Bembridge using part of the old railway line adjacent to Embankment Road.

Path adjacent to Shorwell Shute allows people to walk between Shorwell Village and the Worsley Trail / Bridleways SW51/SW49 without walking in the busy road.

Public Right of Way BS85 is being allowed to be used by cyclists and horse riders, this links between Strawberry Lane and Bridleway BS88 at Longstone, Brighstone

Permissive Bridleway has been created between Clay Lane, Newbridge and  Bridleways CB16 / CB16b at Westover Farm

Permissive Bridleway at Stone Farm has been created, between Blackwater Shute and the Blackwater to Merstone cycle track creating a circular trail

Permissive Routes under the Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship

Permissive access can also be funded through Natural England’s Environmental Stewardship, which is an agri-environment scheme providing funding to farmers and other land managers in England who deliver effective environmental management on their land. These schemes also provide permissive access for the public to visit these areas to enjoy the results. The access route is usually available for a number of years and many link with existing Public Rights of Way.  Some provide rights for horse riding. 

The Natural England funding scheme has changed in relation to permissive access and the permissive paths set up under the old scheme are coming to an end as their deadlines are reached.

Details and maps can be viewed on the Natural England website, please click here. For easy reference we have added links to the individual locations below, but also refer to the Natural England website.

Bachelors Farm A - near Newchurch

Bachelors Farm B - near Chale

Cheverton Farm - near Shorwell

Compton Farm - near Brook

Cridmore Farm - near Rookley * landowner had agreed permissive access can continue

Dean Farm - near St Lawrence

Fleetlands Farm - near Newtown

Harry Ferguson Farm - near Yarmouth

Hermitage Dairy Farm - near St Catherines Down

Lee Farm - near Ningwood / Wellow

Limerstone Farm - near Limerstone Down

Ningwood Common - near Cranmore

Niton Manor Farm - near Niton

Rowridge Farm - near Brighstone Forest

RSPB Brading Marshes - Brading

The Garlic Farm A - near Newchurch

The Garlic Farm B - near Newchurch

West Court Farm - near Shorwell

Common Land & Village Greens

In addition to Open Access and Permissive Paths there are different types of Public access rights over land know as Common Land and Village Greens.   The law surrounding this is complex and the Council (via the Tree Team section) is only involved in the registration process of new Village Greens not any maintenance or enforcement .

The Gov.UK web page says:  You have the ‘right to roam’ on registered common land - you may use town or village greens for ‘lawful sports and pastimes’, eg playing football or walking your dog.

The Open Spaces Society has lots of information about Common Land & Village Greens

For easy reference the maps below show the locations of the Island's registered Common Land and Village Greens.  The Council's Land Charges Team hold the register for the Common Lane & Village Greens and this register can be inspected, please contact the Land Charges team to make an appointment. 


Land at Top of Brighstone Shute

The Old Pound, Brighstone

Colwell Common, Totland

Nettlestone Green, Nettlestone, Ryde

Jubilee Pump, Middleton, Totland

Sheepwash, Totland

Part of Tennyson Down, Freshwater

The Turf Walk, Totland

War Memorial, Totland

Manorial Waste, Freshwater

Little Harding Shute, Brading, Sandown

Morton Common, Brading, Sandown

The Green, Chale Green, Ventnor

St Helens Green, St Helens, Ryde


The Green, Chillerton

The Green, Calbourne

Castle Haven, Niton

Fishbourne Green, Fishbourne

Land at Gassiot Green, Ryde

The Green, Shorwell

Luccombe Common, Shanklin

Lake Common, Sandown

Princes Green, Esplanade, Cowes

The Village Green, Brook

The Green, Gurnard

Norton Green, Freshwater

Keats Green, Shanklin

Appley Green, Shanklin

Dame Anthony’s Common, Ryde

Land adjoining Weeks Road, Ryde

North West corner of  St Helens Green, St Helens

Weeks Green, Ryde

Zig Zag Woods and Mornington Road Green, Cowes

Ningwood Green

Brickyard Point Field

Stenbury View, Wroxall

Cowes Bandstand

 The Football Field, Northwood 


Longhalves, Freshwater

Carter Quarry, Sibden Hill, Shanklin

The Point and Silver Sands, Bembridge

Land at Yarmouth Recreation Ground