Is there any need for rights of way, now that there is freedom of access?

Yes. Whilst the responsible right of access to land and inland water gives access to the majority of Scotland, there are areas that are not covered by the right and rights of way allow people to access across these areas. For example:

  • 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. Many key local rights of way have been incorporated into core path plans. However, other rights of way will often complement and extend local access beyond core path networks.

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