Animals and Rights of Way


Dog walking may be the main reason for many people to get out in the countryside and you can take your dog along all public Rights of Way. They must be kept under close control and not allowed to stray off the path. It is in your interests to keep a close eye on your pet as you will be liable for any injury or damage it causes to other users of the Rights of Way or to landowners property or livestock. Straying, or worrying of livestock is a serious offence and landowners can take action. It is advisable to keep your dog on a short lead when passing through land where stock are grazing and this is a legal requirement if you are on Open Access Land between 1st March and 31st July. Leave as much space between your dog and the animals as possible. Sheep will often move away but cows can be very inquisitive and suspicious of dogs, especially when they have their calves with them. If cattle do start to act aggressively, let your dog go and allow it to run to safety while you leave the field as quickly as you can. Holding onto your dog may cause you to be attacked or injured.

Dog owners must not allow their animals to foul Public Rights of Way or farmland and must remove the faeces and dispose of it safely. Simply throwing the bag away or hanging it in a tree is leaving litter and is a criminal offence. Removing faeces prevents the spread of diseases that affect humans as well as animals, such as Toxicara (can cause blindness) or Hydatids (can cause internal cysts)

Landowners are under no obligation to provide access specifically for dogs (e.g. a dog-hatch adjacent to a stile).

Landowners should ensure that their own dogs do not intimidate users or obstruct the right of way. They are also liable for any injury or damage caused by their dogs to the public.


Horse riders may use bridleways, restricted byways or byways open to all traffic. They may only use footpaths if they have the landowners’ permission. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horses on bridleways; in all other cases users of our rights of way should give due consideration to other users.

It is legal for horses to be kept on land through which a Public Right of Way passes but landowners, as well as riders, must be aware that they may be liable for any injury or damage their animal may cause to users of the route or to property, especially if they are aware that the animal has behaved in a dangerous way before.


Livestock should be treated with respect and caution. Bulls are not allowed to roam freely in a field crossed by a right of way, except where:

  • The bull is less than 10 months old, or
  • The bull is not of a recognised dairy breed (Ayrshire, British Friesian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey or Kerry) and it is accompanied by cows or heifers.
Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

Access Team

Tel: 01633 648035

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