Bushey and District Footpaths Association

BADFA is a Registered Charity committed to caring for public rights of way
Centred in Bushey, Hertfordshire, but taking a wide view. Incorporating Watford Fieldpath Association (Founded 1898)
by Chris Beney
[minor update December 2011 and 2017]


The writer believes that some highway authorities fail to understand the law (indeed in an otherwise good statement of the law even the Ramblers' Association until recently has fluffed this one). This means that performance targets may be claimed to have been met when they actually haven't.

The purposes of signposting include telling the public that they may go along a certain way, telling them where the way goes to, and enabling them to follow the route there without getting lost.

The requirement of the Countryside Act 1968 is for signposts to be put up wherever a path leaves a metalled road and showing, so far as the highway authority consider convenient and appropriate, where the path leads, and the distances to these places. Convenient and appropriate presumably means to the public, not to the highway authority, though I fear those words do get misunderstood. Would it ever not be convenient and appropriate to the public to have destination and distance on the signs? Yes of course, for example a short path across a corner of a green, or a short alleyway, but rarely for a path of any length. And in fulfilment of their duty one would expect a highway authority in such cases to record their reasons and make them publicly available.

The Countryside Act also imposes a duty on the highway authority to provide such waymarks as the highway authority believes are required to assist people unfamiliar with the locality in following the route of the path. That duty must surely require the authority to consider and decide on each path.


For the Future we need to make signmaking easier.

Access officers are tempted to take the easy way out and simply use generic  "Public Footpath" or "Public Bridleway" signs because getting signs with destinations and distances requires a bit more time and effort.

Imagine if road signs just said "Public Road" instead of say "Birmingham 16 miles".

Highway authorities should be looking to modern technology to help them here:
Printouts of self-adhesive waterproof and lightfast sheets on computer printers would be bliss, stocks of blank signs in various sizes could be held and signs done in-house as and when required, indeed with laptops and cheap invertors (12v dc to 230v ac) they could be done in the field.


BADFA has put up or specified well over 100 signs, we worked with the Borough (Hertsmere) to get a specification that would reduce the bending and defacing of the existing signs. After about ten years, we had only lost one, plus one that was carted away when the lamppost it was fixed to was changed. Hedge flails had damaged (significantly) a couple more. No letter picking was seen. Since we changed from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch banding (for fixing to the post) with its greater tension capability we have had little turning of signs. One persistent case was cured with a stainless screw through the band and into the post. A special drill is helpful on this material. We now do this where we might anticipate trouble.

Colours shown here are NOT MATCHED OR CORRECT, they are indicative only.

Standard sign, two lines: one local one further. Might be better with eg Letch 61 to indicate parish. We do not see any need for the white line right around the signs that are sometimes used.

Example of incorporation of featured location: Country Park, Ancient Monument etc.('Merryhill' on the sign is a large public access open space)



Note that the ends of the aluminium sections are cut obliquely to match the sign plate, they look very ugly without this. The sign is covered in clear plastic both sides as an anti-vandal (picking of letters) measure.

Treatment of RUPPs is now historic as most nearly all RUPPS are now Restricted Byways. Most people didn't understand RUPPs, so BADFA put up notices (as in picture) saying "Public right of way on foot, horse and pedal cycle". As here this did cause problems as those words may apply to one of the routes. Perhaps horse, cycle and walker symbols on the sign itself would serve better. Restricted Byway probably needs explanation too and these signs will serve for that too.

The older upper sign has 1/2 inch strapping, the newer lower one 3/4 inch, the latter, which can be tightened much firmer without snapping, prevents sign rotation.

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