Other terms for routes

You may come across a number of other terms to describe routes.  Amongst those in common use are:

'Concessionary', 'permissive' or 'permitted' paths

These are not Public Rights of Way but routes along which the landowner permits people to walk or ride. The permission may extend just to certain types of user, for example walkers. The permission (which may be a written agreement or just verbal) may be withdrawn by the landowner.

Sometimes the permission may be for the riding of cycles or of horses on a route which is a Public Footpath. In this case, walkers have a right to use the path, whilst riders use the same route only with permission. The route is a Public Right of Way for walkers, but a concessionary or permissive path for riders.

Cycle tracks, cycle lanes and cycle paths

An increasing number of routes are being provided for cyclists. Some are brand new, whilst others follow existing routes. A cycle lane is a part of a carriageway set apart for the use of cyclists. It may be either advisory (dashed white line) or mandatory (a solid white line). A cycle track or path is a route physically separate from a road and which has been constructed for cyclists, although they can normally be used by walkers too.

The National Cycle Network (developed by Sustrans in partnership with local authorities and others) involves sections of cycle path and cycle lane, as well as other routes.

Footway or pavement

A footway is a path set out for pedestrians beside a vehicular highway. It is not a Public Right of Way, but a part of the highway.

The footway may not be used by either cyclists or horse riders unless a part of it has been specially set out for their use - in which case, it will be signed and may be surfaced with a different coloured tarmac. Cyclists and horse riders can of course cross a footway to reach a route which leads off the road.

Green lanes

This term has no legal meaning but is often used to describe certain routes which have no sealed surface. A green lane may also be a Public Right of Way, or it might be entirely private.


This term is often used in a similar way to 'green lanes' but has more recently been adopted by Natural England as a description of "a network of largely car-free off-road routes, connecting people to facilities and open spaces in and around towns, cities and to the countryside. For shared use by people of all abilities on foot, bike or horseback, for car-free commuting, play or leisure".

National trails

Formerly known as "Long Distance Paths", there are a number of such routes promoted for walkers or riders by Natural England (or its counterparts, the Countryside Council for Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage), such as the Pennine Way. There are none in Cheshire East, although there are a number of long distance promoted routes including the Gritstone Trail.

Other route with public access (ORPAs)

'Other route with public access' is the description for a symbol on Ordnance Survey maps, indicating routes which carry public rights of some sort, but which are not recorded either as Public Rights of Way nor coloured as most public roads are, in red, brown, orange or yellow. They are shown on the local authority's 'list of streets' as being highways maintainable at public expense and will normally (but not necessarily) be unsealed public carriage roads. ORPAs typically have the character of a 'green lane'.

Recreational or promoted routes

These are middle distance routes which are promoted in some way for the public's enjoyment. They typically consist of a mix of different types of Public Rights of Way, minor roads and permissive paths, and may be distinctively waymarked. For example, the Gritstone Trail is a recreational walk promoted by Cheshire East Council.

Unsealed public roads

Some of the most minor public roads don't have a sealed surface i.e. they are not covered in tarmac or concrete but have an earth or gravel surface or else they may be cobbled. In country areas they may be referred to as 'green lanes' and may be shown as ' ORPAs ' on Ordnance Survey maps.

White roads

These routes are so called because they are the minor roads shown, but not coloured in, on Ordnance Survey maps. They are often unsurfaced. They may be unclassified county roads, or carry other (unrecorded) public rights of access, or else they might be private. The Ordnance Survey now show which of these routes are known to carry public rights of some sort as ' ORPAs '.

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Page last reviewed: 08 May 2024