For those new to rights of way and motor-sport we thought it would be helpful to explain some of the terms and acronyms that thoughtlessly slip into text. If you find this useful, thank Tim Stevens and Richard Fordham who prepared it.

ACTC: Association of Classic Trials Clubs

ACU: Auto Cycle Union. Abatement: Legal term for a practical action to reduce a problem, as an alternative to legal action such as going to court. When a user removes an obstruction he is abating it; where the obstruction is unlawful abatement is not an offence.

Abatement: Legal term for a practical action to reduce a problem, as an alternative to legal action such as going to court. When a user removes an obstruction he is abating it; where the obstruction is unlawful abatement is not an offence.

Access Land: Those areas of open moor and mountain that are to be opened to the public (for walking only) under CRoW Act 2000.

Accommodation Road: A route for the private use of persons with an interest in land to which it leads. Such routes, often created to link fields separated by canals or railways, may also carry public rights. (Similar to 'occupation road').

Adopted Road: When a builder makes an estate road it will normally be dedicated to the public, sooner or later, but it will not be maintainable at public expense until it is formally adopted by the Highway Authority (and added to the List of Streets).

Affidavit: A written statement of fact witnessed formally by a solicitor. In the absence of a witness, an affidavit can form very useful evidence, for instance of the use of a route.

AMCA: Amateur Motorcycle Association.

ANCC: The Association of Northern Car Clubs.

ANWCC: The Association of North Western Car Clubs

AONB: Area of outstanding natural beauty. This designation allows for tighter planning control so that the landscape is not damaged by development and can provide funding to grant aid landscape improvements.

ALRC: Association of Land Rover Clubs.

Arrest: Detention of anyone by another; only legal if a serious offence has been committed or attempted (e.g. for criminal damage or obstruction, but not for trespass or riding on a bridleway).


ASWMC: The Association of South Western Motor Clubs.

ATV: All Terrain Vehicle, usually a light 3 or 4 wheeled open vehicle with motorcycle seating and controls, and often only vaguely 'street legal'.

AWDC: All Wheel Drive Club.

AWMMC: The Association of West Midland Motor Clubs.

BBT or B&BT: The Byways and Bridleways Trust, a registered charity looking after rights and the laws applying to them. Not a user group.

BDS: British Driving Society, concerned with horse drawn carriage driving.

BHS: British Horse Society, the governing body of most horse activities.

BMF: British Motorcyclists Federation.

BOAT: Byway open to all traffic.

BBNPA: Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

Bridle-path, Bridle Road: Alternative terms for Bridleway.

Bridleway: A Route legally available for walkers, horse riders, and bicycles.

BNPA: The (Norfolk) Broads National Park Authority.

BTCV: British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

BTRDA: British Trial and Rally Drivers Association.

Byway open to all traffic (BOAT): Legal term for a minor unsurfaced or unsealed highway or route with vehicular rights, which is marked on the Definitive map.

CA'68: The Countryside Act 1968, in which Byways replaced RUPPs, but with downgrading on grounds of suitability etc. Modified by WCA'81.

CA'68: S30(1) granted pedal cyclists the right to use bridleways subject to giving way to walkers and horse riders.

Cambrian Council: A group of Welsh motorcycle clubs, mostly of competition riders, who meet to co-ordinate action for their sport.

Carriageway: A route for vehicles of all descriptions. Public carriageway is the highest of the three statuses of Rights of Way. Horse-riders and walkers may also use (almost) all carriageways.

CCPR: The Central Council of Physical Recreation, formed before the Sports Council to look after the needs of active recreational groups. Now known as the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

CLA: The Country Landowners Association, to which most landowners belong, including the largest ones. They claim to favour the addition of Byways where they are proven, but actively ( in my experience - Ed) advise their members to oppose vehicular rights.

CNPA: Cairngorms National Park Authority.

CoAg: The Countryside Agency, formed in 1999 by merging CoCo and the Rural Development Commission - Subsumed into Natural England in 2006.

CoCo: The Countryside Commission, set up to look after all access rights, but the body that pushed for the Ridgeway TRO and Quiet Roads. Now replaced by the Countryside Agency (CoAg) and subsequently swallowed by Natural England.

Common Law: The part of the legal system that is based on old tradition, ancient practice, and the decisions of judges, rather than on Acts of Parliament (which produce Statute Law). Trespass and Nuisance are dealt with under common law. (Not connected with Common land). Common law says that use of a route for a reasonable time can establish public rights; in one case 18 months was enough.

Common Rights: A traditional land management idea in which 'commoners' who own a nearby house or cottage have rights on a patch of land (the common). The most important right, today, is that allowing sheep or cattle to graze the land.

CPRE: The Council for the Protection of Rural England, which tries to do for the countryside what the National Trust does for property. Known to be prejudiced about motoring on green roads in some areas.

CRoW: Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

CSMA: Civil Service Motoring Association.

Dedication: The main process by which a right of way can come about. It can be 'express' - a deliberate decision by the landowner, or 'presumed' - by inference from the landowner's actions or inaction.

Definitive Map & Statement (DM&S): Official record of public rights in the countryside, available for inspection and copying at county and district council offices. Not all unsurfaced vehicular ways are shown, and any public paths shown may also have vehicular rights. The term 'definitive' is often used (confusingly) to mean 'shown on the Definitive Map' rather than 'beyond doubt'. The Statement which goes with the Map should detail the width, and any gates, etc.

DEFRA: The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. This is the Department that deals with rights of way and associated legislation. Closely tied to that part of the Planning Inspectorate that deals with RoW Public Inquiries.

DETR: The Government's Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions - which looks after countryside access, and the Definitive Map processes. It combines the old DoE and DoT.

DfT: Department for Transport

DCLG: Department for Communities and Local Government

DM&S: Definitive Map & Statement. The record of public rights of way.

DMMO: Definitive Map Modification Order - the official way that all changes (except RUPP reclassification) are made to the DM&S.

DNPA: Dartmoor National Park Authority.

Drove Road: A route used before the railway era for long distance transport of livestock, usually cattle, which all had to walk to market, sometimes from as far away as Scotland & Wales. Also called Drift and Driving Road. Many green roads were used as drove roads. The right to drive cattle is a component of a carriageway - an all purpose highway. Other than a private right, an easement, the drove is not a stand alone class of highway.

EHPS: Endurance Horse & Pony Society - now called Endurance GB.

EH: English Heritage

EN: English Nature

ENPA: The Exmoor National Park Authority.

FBHVC: The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs.

Footpath: A route on which any member of the public may walk or run. Prams, and dogs under control, may accompany walkers. Definitive footpaths may carry vehicular rights.

Footway: A route for pedestrians alongside a carriageway, normally provided with a kerb and paving. Not the same as footpath, and not shown on the DM&S.

Founderous: A route is founderous when it would be likely to bring a horse to its knees. Such a route is 'out of repair'.

GLASS: The Green Lane Association, a national 4x4 organisation.

GPDO: General Permitted Development Order.

HA '80: The Highways Act 1980.

HA '80 s.130: Protection of public rights

130.--(l) It is the duty of the highway authority to assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any high-way for which they are the highway authority, including any roadside waste which forms part of it.
(2) Any council may assert and protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of any highway in their area for which they are not the highway authority, including any roadside waste which forms part of it.
(3) Without prejudice to subsections (1) and (2) above, it is the duty of a council who are a highway authority to prevent, as far as possible, the stopping up or obstruction of (a) the highways for which they are the highway authority, and (b) any highway for which they are not the highway authority, if, in their opinion, the stopping up or obstruction of that highway would be prejudicial to the interests of their area.
(4) Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, it is the duty of a local highway authority to prevent any unlawful encroachment on any roadside waste comprised in a highway for which they are the highway authority.

NB. s130A - an amendment to the HA'80 that gives the public the power to take a highway authority to court for failure to remove obstructions from a highway shown on the DM&S. Forms for the s.130A process can be found on our 'obstructions' page.

Higher rights: A Bridleway has 'higher rights' than a footpath, and a carriageway higher than a bridleway. Unrecorded rights may exist on any Definitive route, so footpaths and bridleways may have vehicular status, although this, post NERC 2006, will be rare and difficult to establish. It all depends on the evidence.

Highway: A route along which members of the public have a right to pass and repass. Highways are all public, and may be footpaths, bridleways, or carriageways. Technically the highway is the route, the right of way is the right to use it.

Highway Authority: The public body responsible for the maintenance of all Highways. For Carriageways, this is usually the County Council, Unitary Authority, or Metropolitan Borough, but Public Path matters are often devolved to District Councils.

Inclosure: The legal process which took away common rights and established private landowners, mainly between 1750 and 1850. Roads and access routes were set out in the documentation, and this is a valuable source of evidence for highway status.

LARA:The motoring organisations' Land Access and Recreation Association, set up to co-ordinate the defence of motor sport and recreation.

LDNPA:The Lake District National Park Authority.

List of Streets: A record kept by the highway authority of all routes in their area which are publicly maintainable. It must be available to members of the public during office hours, it may be in map or list form, and it should show all UCRs as well as tarred roads.

LLNPA: The Loch Lomond National Park Authority.

LoS: List of Streets.

LPA: Local Planning Authority.

MAFF: (Now defra) The Government Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, which has paid farmers to produce too much food, and to remove hedges, and then pays them to stop producing, and put hedges back.

MAG: Motorcycle Action Group.

MCC: The Motor Cycling Club.

MCI: The Motor Cycle Industry Association.

MFU: Motorsport Facilities Unit, set up as part of LARA, the office from which the MSDO operates to serve competition needs.

MOLARA: Ancient title for LARA, and not much used.

MSA: The Motor Sports Association UK, the official governing body of motor sport in the UK. It was a branch of the RAC until recently.

NAFW: National Access Forum for Wales.

NASA: The National Auto-grass Sport Association.

Natural England: A new Government Agency created under NERC in 2006, combining English Nature with parts of other agencies to form one body looking after farming, landscape and access. "One of the radical reforms announced by the Secretary of State in Rural Strategy 2004 was the establishment of a new integrated agency, comprising all of English Nature (EN), the landscape, access and recreation elements of the Countryside Agency (CA), and the environmental land management functions of the Rural Development Service (RDS), and now known as Natural England." Visit the defra site.

NERC: Natural England and Rural Communities Act 2006. This Act created Natural England. Part 6 of this Act extinguished nearly all unrecorded rights for mechanically propelled vehicles.

NFNPA: The New Forest National Park Authority.

NFU: The National Farmers Union, no more a trade union than is the ACU; mainly concerned with practical farming from the farmer's point of view.

NNR: National Nature Reserve.

NNPA: Northumberland National Park Authority.

NPA: National Park Authority, hence Peak District NPA (PDNPA); South Downs NPA (SDNPA); New Forest NPA NFNPA); etc.

NPACA '49: The National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949, setting up National Parks and the Definitive Map. Modified by CA'68 & WCA'81.

NYMNPA: The North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority.

Obstruction: Anything which interferes with the passage of the public along a highway, or with free access over any part of it. It is a 'public nuisance' in law, and committing such a nuisance is a crime; it is the duty of the highway authority to seek, prevent and remove obstructions. Users coming across an obstruction may legally 'abate' it, removing enough to carry on their journey. Otherwise, the Highway Authority should be told. There is also a common law right to divert around the obstruction.

Occupation Road: One with private rights for those with an interest in adjacent land, not quite the same as accommodation road. It may also have public rights.

Ordnance Survey (OS): The official map making body for the UK. Two scales of OS maps show Definitive routes, the Pathfinder at a scale of 1:25000, and the Landranger at 1:50000. Outdoor Leisure maps and Explorer maps are special versions of the Pathfinder scale for popular areas. OS maps do not show all vehicular rights, and do show some private tracks.

ORPA: 'Other routes with public access' - a designation shown on OS Maps to indicate some (but not all) UCRs (unclassified roads).

OS: Ordnance Survey.

PD: Permitted Development.

PDR: Permitted Development Rights.

PDNPA: The Peak District National Park Authority

PCNPA: The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

Permissive route: One where the owner has indicated that for the time being he does not mind use by a given class of traveller. Permission may be withdrawn at any time.

PINs: Planning Inspectorate.

Prescribed Body: One of the group of organisations specified in various Acts of Parliament to be notified of changes to the RoW network. The ACU and WTRA are the only prescribed motoring bodies.

Prescriptive rights: Legal terms for rights of way established by public use. Such use must be without force, without secrecy, and not as a favour or by permission (i.e. nec vi, nec clam, nec precario).

Public Inquiry: An investigation carried on by an independent inspector, often in a public hall; the official way of examining evidence and letting anyone concerned in proposed changes have a say, and produce their own evidence.

Public Path: A Right of Way which is a footpath or bridleway, with no higher rights.

Purpresture: Encroachment on the roadside, such as garden extensions, and whitewashed stones to keep vehicles off the verge. Even if 'official', it is an illegal obstruction.

RA: Ramblers Association, a walking group which seeks open access on foot to wild places.

RACMSA: The Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association (now officially the MSA, when abbreviated). See MSA above.

Reclassification: This was the process whereby RUPPs on the Definitive map were reconsidered by the Highway Authority and reclassified as BOAT, Bridleway, or Footpath, depending on the evidence. Such changes do not remove any higher rights which may exist. This process was removed in CRoW 2000

Restricted Byway: CRoW 2000 turned all virtually all RUPPs into RB. This is a completely new class of highway that is effectively a carriageway way for all except mechanically propelled vehicles. There will be some exceptions.

Right of Way (RoW): A right for any member of the public to travel over the land of another, without needing permission. There are three categories, Footpath, Bridleway, and Carriageway. Use can only legally be for a genuine journey from one place to another. The term is often used in a restrictive meaning for only those routes on the DM&S. Technically all highways are also RoW.

Road Used as a Public Path (RUPP): A classification once used on Definitive maps, meaning a route which is not a footpath or bridleway, but not with conclusive vehicular rights for the public. Any remaining RUPPs automatically became Restricted Byways under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000.

RoW: Right of way.

RoWRC: The House of Commons RoW Review Committee.

RT Road: One maintainable by the landowner; ratione tenurae means '(maintainable) by reason of tenure'. All RT roads are public carriageways, sometimes marked on the List of Streets.

RTPI: Royal Town Planning Institute.

RtR: Right to Roam - The latest 'want' from the RA that is now being legislated for.

RUPP: Road used as a public path. See Road Used as a Public Path above.

SAC: Special Area of Conservation. A designation given to land under the European Union’s Habitats Directive. that increases protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats.

Section 116: Highways Act 1980 section which allows a road to be closed by magistrates if it is not needed, or to be diverted to make it more 'commodious'.

Section 56: Highways Act 1980 section, allowing for application to a magistrates court by anyone believing that a highway is out of repair (see Founderous). Magistrates can order the authority to put it in order, but this may mean tarmac.

SNPA: The Snowdonia National Park Authority.

SDNPA: The South Downs National Park Authority.

SSSI: Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Status: The status of a route refers to rights on it; it may be public or private, and allow carriages, horse-riders, or pedestrians. Vehicular status indicates public carriageway rights - an all purpose highway.

Street Legal: Term used to indicate that a vehicle complies with all the regulations for highway use. Trail riding can only take place with street legal machines.

TCP: Town and Country Planning.

TPO: Tree Preservation Order.

TRF: The Trail Riders Fellowship. An organisation formed in the 1980s to protect ‘green lanes’ and work toward having them recorded for the benefit of all.

TRO: Traffic Regulation Order, which can restrict any class of traffic on any route, for up to eighteen months, or permanently. TROs must be signed clearly so that users know exactly what is forbidden. The sign for no motor vehicles shows a BSA A10 motorcycle flying over a Ford Prefect of the same era, in a red ring. A plain red ring means no vehicles at all.

UCR or UUR: Unclassified County Road (UCR), properly the 'County' bit is obsolete/ Unmetalled unclassified road.

Unclassified Road: A road recorded (on the List of Streets) by the Highway Authority as 'maintainable at public expense', and normally having vehicular rights. Such roads are sometimes not tarred, and then are not always marked on Definitive or OS maps. Classified roads are the familiar A and B roads.

Vehicle: A mobile contrivance for carrying goods or travellers or providing a service. This includes sledges, bicycles, prams, wheelbarrows, sedan chairs, and litters; as well as carts, cars and motorcycles. Legally almost all vehicles are carriages, and as a bridleway is only for walking or 'leading or riding a horse', evidence of any other public use points to vehicular rights.

VMCC: The Vintage Motorcycle Club.

VSCC: The Vintage Sports Car Club.

WAMC: The Welsh Association of Motor Clubs.

Waymarking: The use of standard symbols on rights of way 'in the field' to indicate status and direction. A stumpy red arrow should be used for carriageways, blue for bridleways, and for footpaths, yellow. The term is also used, confusingly, for the route marking of named routes like the Pennine Way, but without showing the legal status.

WCA '81: The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, under which RUPPs are reclassified and other changes are made to the Definitive map.

WHS: World Heritage Site

WORMSG: Welsh Off Road Motoring Steering Group.

Written Reps: Written Representation Planning (or DMMO) Appeal.

WTRA: The Welsh Trail Riders Association.

YDNPA: The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.