People will have to depend on these existing rights in circumstances where access rights do not apply or where they are limited in some way. In particular:

  • Many well-used rights of way exist through the curtilages of buildings or other land where access rights do not apply, particularly through farm steadings and in urban areas.
  • Any limitations applying to access rights (e.g. for land management needs) do not apply to the use of rights of way, although people should still act responsibly when using them.
  • Statutory means of limiting access rights do not restrict the use of a right of way, although byelaws may affect how people can use it.

Rights of way (and rights of navigation) also provide important strategic cross-country routes. Some (such as drove roads) are of great historic interest. Most key local rights of way are likely to have been incorporated into the core path system. However, other rights of way will often complement and extend local access beyond core path networks.