We value our rights of way network as they are an important part of our heritage. Torbay has a beautiful coastline and stunning countryside and the public rights of way network allows people to enjoy these areas, many of which are away from busy roads. In urban areas the public rights of way can provide shorter routes to retail areas or areas of employment thereby encouraging the use of more sustainable forms of transport.

We are responsible for managing and maintaining the definitive map showing the rights of way network. We endeavour to inspect all public rights of way on an annual basis. We will take action by informing the landowner of any issues which we observe, or are made aware of, to ensure that the public rights of way network is both safe, and easy to use. We encourage the public to report any maintenance issues identified when enjoying the network.

  Report a highway problem

Types of Public Right of Way

A Right of Way is a route over which you may pass and repass unhindered. We only have footpaths and bridleways across Torbay. How you travel along the path depends on its status. Torbay has the following:

  • Footpath - You may walk along a footpath or use a wheelchair or pram, although the surface in rural locations may be not normally suitable for this. Riding a bicycle or horse is not permitted.
  • Bridleway - You may ride or lead a horse or ride a bicycle along a bridleway, you may also walk along a bridleway. Driving a vehicle along a bridleway is not permitted, even it if is horse drawn.

If you want to find out if a path is a public right of way please contact us. Please give us information on the location. On receipt, an Officer will check the status of the route on the definitive map and statement of public rights of way. If the route is not recorded as a public right of way it could be a claimed path. If the path is not recorded then the council does not have any responsibility to maintain it. You can now find your nearest public right of way by using Find My Nearest. Simply put in your postcode and find your nearest route.

What is a Definitive Map?

A definitive map is a map prepared by the highway authority, which is a legal record of the public rights of way. Torbay only has the following types of ROW:

  • footpaths
  • bridleways

The definitive map is therefore used in providing evidence of the public rights, but may not tell the whole story. A check should be made to see if it has any reason to believe that there are additional rights, over any particular area of land. This can be especially important if the land is for sale or is the subject of a planning application for development.

The Definitive Statement

The map is accompanied by a statement, which describes each public right of way. If the statement defines the position or width of a public right of way shown on the map, then that information is conclusive evidence of the position or width of the public right of way at the relevant date. As with the definitive map, there may be additional limitations or conditions on the public's rights, as yet unrecorded.

Main Reference Books

Rights of Way: A Guide to Law and Practice

Fourth edition 2007, by John Riddall and John Trevelyan (published by the Open Space Society together with the Ramblers Association).

The Working Copy of Devon's Definitive Map

Scale 6 inches to 1 mile or 1:10560

If you need to refer to these maps, you may inspect the working copy at the Town Hall in Torquay. For further information please contact the Natural Environment team.

We also have digital maps covering most of Torbay, which are far easier to interpret than the Definitive Map. These are on a constantly updated base but unlike the Definitive Map these are not the legal record of public rights of way. Copies of these digital maps can be sent to other offices and all Members, if required, for Council business (OS Copyright).

The Torbay Definitive Statement

A written (legal) record of each individual path, numbered by parish, is kept in Torquay Town Hall, Torquay. All these maps are precious; great care must be taken when using them. It is important that until you become familiar with the system you are advised to ask for help and guidance. On no occasion may the definitive map or statement be removed (unless being used at a Public Inquiry with an Officer in attendance).

Under Section 53b of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, local authorities had to set up a Register of Applications for Definitive Map Modification Orders.

Register of PROW Applications
Spreadsheet with all the orders on and forms of all the applications.