Get to Know Public Rights Of Way

Public Rights Of Way (PROW) is a legal right given to the public to use or pass through a path. It is an important means to gain access to the countryside. A PROW can be anything from a wide track to narrow trail, it can run through a town or across remote countryside and it may traverse private or public land.

The Works of URRA, Getting PROW Asserted

URRA or Ulster Rural Riders Association plays a very important role in helping re-establish public rights of way. This non-profit charitable group campaigns to get PROW asserted. The URRA has successfully campaigned in getting the following PROW asserted:

  • Glen Rd. to Station Rd Cultra
  • “King John’s Walk” (Holywood up to Craigantlet)
  • Williamson’s Lane Bangor (Granshe)
  • Demense Grove to Plas Merydyn, Hollywood
  • The Quarries Granshe Rd to Ballycrochan Road, Bangor
  • Crowfordsburn Road through County Park
  • Fort Hill to North Down Coastal Path, Groomsport
  • Bayburn PK to North Down Coastal Path, Groomsport
  • Rowallane Close (close to Rowan Glen Bangor)
  • Coyle’s Lane, Ballyrobert
  • Cattle Drive, Helen’s Bay

In December 2014 the URRA received notice that their campaign to reopen Coyle’s Lane public right of way had been successful. In a letter dated 10 December 2014, G Wilson, the Countryside Recreation Office for North Down Borough Council wrote:

“I am writing to confirm that the ‘Assertion’ of the Right of Way between Belfast Road and Craigdarragh Road, known as Coyle’s Lane, was formally approved at the most recent Council meeting held on 09 December 2014.

With reference to the above route, I would like to thank you for your participation and time taken to complete and return an ‘evidence statement’.

In accordance with current legislation ‘Access to the Countryside (Northern Ireland) Order 1983′ the above route is now held on North Down Borough Councils’ register of Asserted Public Rights of Way. “

It is with your help that the URRA can continue to be successful in our work of making the countryside more open to riders.

You can help

Should you have a problem using a PROW you may contact the Council and they will investigate the matter. There are two ways on how you can get help from the Local Council and URRA have found these very effective. One is to assert a public path and second is to organize a deputation to your local council.

The former means that if you want a laneway in your area to be asserted, you have to look for at least six evidence-givers who will fill in a form called “evidence of use”. Then, you have to send the forms with a letter to the Town Clerk asking for the laneway to be officially asserted as a public path.

The second one is by writing to your Town Clerk explaining the aims of URRA and the need for off road facilities for horse riders. Then, when invited, representatives will face the Council. They will give a short talk, laying down all of the necessary points before the authorities.

Here is a quote from a successful meeting with Ards Borough Council in March 1990:

Support for horse riders

Although not committing itself to definite action, Ards Borough Council plans to look out for suitable land for horse riding in the area. Local representatives agreed at a meeting on Monday last that the council’s chief leisure services officer should liaise with the Ulster Rural Riders Association in an attempt to find appropriate land for equestrian recreation ….

“I think we should help the Rural Riders Association as much as possible because they are a great asset and getting horses off the roads is essential,” concluded Councilor Edward Archdale.

At first glance this may sound time consuming and difficult but URRA members are encouraged to keep on even if they don’t gain support at first attempt. URRA pioneers had been there. They started with just a gut, experienced rejection, but later on, they still got the support of the Council.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Access to the Countryside Law – A brief Guide. 
by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Download (PDF, Unknown)

Road Safety Education Leaflet from Direct NI