Trail Riding Terminology

Hierarchy of Highways:

1Unclassified Road (UCR)
A minor public road which may be paved or unpaved. We enjoy riding the unpaved variant, which must appear on the List of Streets for our use to be lawful.

UCR are usually recorded on OS maps as ORPA or White Roads and are traditionally referred to as 'County Roads'.
2Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT)
This is a Right of Way that may be used by motor vehicles but is legally defined as being mainly used by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

BOAT are marked on OS maps using alternating red crosses and dashes (Landranger) and green crosses (Pathfinder).
3Restricted Byway (RB)
A Right of Way that may be used by pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and non-motorised vehicles (usually those driven by horses). The CROW Act reclassified all RUPP as Restricted Byway, extinguishing all motor vehicle rights of use in the process.

Some motor vehicle rights of use may subsist for a minority of Restricted Byways through the exemptions stipulated in the NERC Act, though the question of which Restricted Byways these exceptions apply to is a complicated, contentious and expensive one to answer.

Restricted Byways are marked on OS maps using alternating red dots and dashes (Landranger) and green demi-crosses alternating in different directions (Pathfinder).
4Bridleway (BR)
A Right of Way that may be used by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. There is no legal right to use bridleways by motor vehicle.

The right to use a bicycle on a Bridleway was conferred by the Countryside Act of 1968, which also stated that there is no obligation for a Local Authority to facilitate bicycle use and that cyclists must give way to pedestrians and horse riders at all times.

OS mark these using red dashes (Landranger) and green dashes (Pathfinder).
5Public Footpath (PF)
A Right of Way that may only be used by pedestrians, their ‘usual accompaniments’ (such as dogs, trollies and pushchairs) and users of mobility scooters.

OS record these using short red dashes (Landranger) and short green dashes (Pathfinder).
6Permissive Path
Private land where the land owner has formally given permission for public access.

The exact nature of any such access is a matter for the land owner to decide, and is usually only for non-motorised use, though the efforts of organisations such as GLASS and Treadlightly! have obtained permissive byways open to all traffic on Salisbury Plain.

Other Highways & Byways:

1Right of Way (ROW or PROW)
A Public Highway where the type of permitted use is split in to one of four classifications – Public Footpath, Bridleway, Restricted Byway and Byway Open to All Traffic.

Rights of Way are only found in England and Wales.
2Other Route with Public Access (ORPA)
This is a term created by Ordnance Survey to convey the locations of unpaved roads following a request made to Local Authorities for such information in 1997. Many shown in or near to urban areas have now been paved, though information generally remains accurate for those in rural areas.

OS record ORPA using solid red circles (Landranger) and solid green circles (Pathfinder).
3Public Highway
Any road, footway or Right of Way that the public has a legal right to use providing such use does constitute a nuisance.

These are publically owned and maintained, in contrast to the many private highways (such as farm tracks and driveways) that may not be used without permission from the respective land owner.

The ‘top two spits’ (spade heads) and surfacing of a public highway are maintainable by their respective local authority. Private land owners will own the soil below the highway and the land aside it, but the surface on which the public exercise any given right of use is vested in the highway authority.
4Road Used as a Public Path (RUPP)
An obsolete term used to describe highway that carried motor vehicle rights of use prior to their reclassification as Restricted Byway by the CROW Act of 2000.
5County Road
A traditional term used to describe an unmade public road.
6White Road
A minor road recorded in white (uncoloured) on OS maps.

Many of these are not public highways, so it is important to establish what - if any - public rights of access subsist with either the respective Local Authority or a more knowledgeable TRF member.
7Green Road
This is our preferred term for unsealed highways where motor vehicle rights of use subsist.

Not all roads are black!
A track that may or may not carry pubic rights of use by motor vehicle, if any public rights of use at all.

Use of the word is discouraged on account of its vagueness.
A route designed for pedestrians that is owned by its respective Local Authority.

Motorcycles can usually be parked, pushed or freewheeled on footways outside of London provided no obstruction is caused. No such rights exist for other types of motor vehicle.
An unmade road – either public or private – that is wide enough for four-wheeled vehicular use.
An unmade path – either public or private – that is not wide enough for four-wheeled vehicles to use and may or may not carry motor vehicle rights of use.

It’s also the name of our website and magazine!

Selected Terminology:

1Motor Vehicle
Any mechanically propelled vehicle indented or adapted for use on roads.

This includes vehicles powered by internal combustion, steam or electric motor, though some low-powered electric two-wheeled vehicles are instead considered bicycles.
2Definitive Map and Statement (DM or DMS)
The DM is a statuary legal record of ROW maintained by any respective Local Authority. It exists as a map open to public inspection at Council offices, though non-legal ‘working copies’ can often be found online.

These are the most accurate representation of public rights, which are also summarised using a textual description within the ‘Statement’.
3List of Streets (LOS)
The List of Streets Maintainable at Public Expense is another statuary legal document maintained by Local Authorities. It forms a register of highways within public ownership and maintenance.

Some of these will be the unpaved, unclassified roads that we enjoy exploring, whilst others will be footways and cycle paths that carry no motor vehicle rights of use.
4Traffic Regulation Order (TRO)
A TRO is a legal order made by either a Local Authority or National Park Authority to restrict (and criminalise) use of a public highway.

A TRO is the product of due process and must be justified with reasons that support its implementation. Most TRO prevent use by motor vehicles, though some prevent horse riding, winter use, cycling or pedestrian use.

All TRO must be appropriately signed to be lawful – usually using the ‘motorcycle flying over a car’ road sign. Where reasons of soil erosion or safety have been cited as a reason for TRO, TRF have in many cases successfully argued that motorcycle use should be exempt from any proposed Order. These TRO are signed using a single car within a red circle.

All local authorities keep a record of active TRO, though not all choose to publish the details online. Your TRF group’s Road Conservation Officer(s) can advise which routes are subject to TRO.
5Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW)
The CROW Act (amongst many other things) reclassified all RUPP to Restricted Byway, removing any claimed right to use a motor vehicle unless evidence was submitted to demonstrate that any particular RB should carry such rights.
6Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC)
Amongst many other things (and following pressure from GLPG) NERC permanently extinguished the ability to record rights of way, which (for motor vehicle users) extended to backdating the cut-off date for any such applications made under CROW and prescribing four strict exemptions that any remaining applications must meet at least one of in order to be considered.

Needless to say, the opportunity to record historic motor vehicle rights of use is both rare and robustly contested by organisations such as GLEAM and GLPG that work to prevent such rights being confirmed.
7Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO)
The Order confirming a change in public rights of use to any particular way on the Definitive Map. This can be an alteration, or the recording of existing (but previously unrecorded) rights.

The term ‘DMMO’ is also used to describe an application that has been submitted to a Local Authority and pending determination. Such applications can remain undetermined for many years as public demand for reclassification far outweighs the ability of Local Authorities to properly undertake such work.
8Countryside Access Forum (CAF)
Sometimes also known as a Local Access Forum, these independent groups were created by the CROW Act and their provision is a statuary requirement of any Local Authority responsible for the maintenance and recording of public highways.

A forum is usually comprised of representatives of most types of ROW user, land owners, elected councillors, conservationists, those that earn their living in the countryside and local authority officers.

Miscellaneous Terminology:

1Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
This designation applies to 46 separate areas within England, Wales and Northern Ireland where – in the course of management and making decisions – particular attention is given to the economic and social needs of local communities and the sustainability of public recreation.
2Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
An area that receives special protection in law due to its biodiversity or geology. Each SSSI has a written citation that explains why it has received additional such protection and what species it maintains or supports.

Damaging a SSSI is a criminal offence that can be punished with an unlimited fine.
A misleading phrase frequently used to describe our hobby.

We do not ride ‘off-road’ – we ride on road, albeit on unpaved, ‘green roads’.
The use of round plastic discs to inform the direction a highway continues and what public rights of way subsist.

Yellow arrows are used for Public Footpaths, blue for Bridleways, plum for Restricted Byways and red for Byways Open to All Traffic.

Waymarkers may also be used to inform the public that the highway has been maintained by a particular user organisation, or that it forms part of a longer, promoted route such as a Long-Distance Footpath or a National Trail.