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Find your way

In this guest blog, South West Coast Path Association Trustee, Local Rep Volunteer and all-round sign-interpretation guru Lucy Daniel sheds light on how to read signs that may at first glance look a bit confusing. Over to Lucy:

When out on the South West Coast Path, you’ll find a multitude of different styles of sign to help you find your way. One of the most common is the way mark post, which is used as a simple and unobtrusive sign in many locations.

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Above is a way mark post actually found on the South West Coast Path and it can be used for an explanation of what to expect and how to interpret way mark signs:

  • The arrows relate to the directions when viewed from directly in front of the face of the post.
  • The acorn at the top denotes that the route is a National Trail and the arrow(s) nearest to the acorn are the direction(s) for the Trail.
  • There is then a dividing line. Below that are arrows relating to “side routes”, ie. public rights of way which connect with and/or cross the National Trail at that point, but do not form part of it. Any face of a post which has only arrows and no acorn, relates only to other routes and not to the National Trail.
Yellow Yellow arrow denotes a public footpath
Blue Blue arrow denotes a bridleway
Plum Plum arrow denotes a restricted byway
Red Red arrow denotes a byway

Each of these classifications of rights of way has different associated rights (see below) and any of them might be part of a National Trail.

The small white plaque seen at the top of this way mark post is the Coastguard Grid Ref plate and this is very useful information if you need to call for help or report a problem.

BRIEF GUIDE TO RIGHTS OF WAY CLASSIFICATIONS:

Public Footpath – Yellow way marker

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The public have a right of way on foot only. Prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs and invalid carriages are allowed along public footpaths, however not all paths may be suitable particularly in the countryside

Public Bridleway – Blue way marker

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The public have a right of way on foot, horseback or bicycle.

Public Restricted Byway – Plum way marker

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The public have a right of way on foot, horseback, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.

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Public Byway – Red way maker

The Byway is included, but this is rare. The public have a right of way on foot, horseback, bicycle or vehicle including horse-drawn carriage, motorcycle or other motor vehicle. However it is used by the public mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used (i.e. walking, cycling or horse riding).

We hope you found this piece useful, big thanks to Lucy for putting it together. Lucy also stewards a very active online community of Coast Path walkers on her Facebook group ‘South West Coast Path (England, UK). Minehead to Poole 630 miles‘ which you may like to join for other pearls of wisdom and peer-to-peer support on walking the Trail.

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