Organised Editing/Activities/National Trust Paths

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The National Trust ( is a charity set up to look after special places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Now the largest land owner in the area we operate, NT cares for more than 250,000 hectares of land including 775 miles of coastline, 100,000 hectares of statutory wildlife sites, 28,000 buildings and structures, 300 historic mansions and gardens. The NT operates a membership business model which provides members with complimentary access to our pay-for-entry visitor attractions, but also seeks to provide extensive free access to the countryside. The pay-for-entry visitor attractions welcomed 2.5 million visitors in 2018, and an estimated 300 million visits to countryside sites. Recent internal analysis estimates that NT look after a network of 20,000 Km of paths which comprises both legally designated ‘Public Rights of Way’ (25%) and permissive paths (75%).

Slides from OSMUK Community Meetup on 26/6/19

Project Background

Currently, there is no single digital inventory of paths in the UK. This project aims to capture a digital inventory of paths on National Trust land in order to:

  • Demonstrate how NT are fulfilling our core purpose of providing access to special places.
  • Improve asset management including maintenance and enhancement of the path network.
  • Provide a digital base for trail curation and enhanced visitor experiences.

We are proposing to use OpenStreetMap to utilise 'crowd' contributions to the path inventory from the Trust's local staff and volunteer network as well as the wider OSM community. Our aim is to capture path data (geometries and access tags) against a tagging schema (below) to build a consistent, comprehensive picture of paths and associated access for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders. By using our network of property teams, we can use local knowledge combined with aerial imagery/GPS traces to ensure we are compliant with copyright rules. The data is then available royalty-free to anybody for the development of products to encourage appropriate access to our special places.


We are proposing to capture Public Rights of Way (footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic) and paths the Trust permits access (permissive access on publicly accessible land and paths behind pay-for-entry barriers) and tag access against a schema (below). Doing so provides guidance for NT staff/volunteers to use to ensure path data is captured consistently. Our hope is this will improve the overall quality of path and access data in OSM. We have worked with OSMUK and other partners to develop a proposed schema for tagging paths in OSM.

We propose that we would:

  • Review existing data on National Trust managed land.
  • Utilise our ranger network/property based staff for on-the-ground knowledge to verify the data.
  • Create any path networks which do not exist, split/amend existing routes where needed.
  • Tag paths consistently against the schema (below). Update any existing tags that contradict this (e.g. if a RoW is not tagged as such).

We do not propose to delete any routes in OpenStreetMap which exist and are verifiable on the ground. We would look to add or update access permissions where we are able.


PDF copy of the paths schema handout from OSMUK Community Meetup on 26/6/19

The project proposes to pro-actively monitor changes made to the path inventory on NT managed land against the tagging schema. The monitoring process is automated and notifies local staff to changes (geometry & access) in their area of knowledge so that changes can be checked against the reality on the ground. We will make this code open for the community to use soon.

Proposed Tagging Schema

Below is the latest version of the proposed path tagging schema (as seen at the OSMUK community meet up in London on 29/06/2019 - see PDF).

We are currently trialling this approach and welcome any feedback. If you have any questions, comments or feedback about the schema, please comment in the discussion tab.

Tagging Guidelines[1]
Physical Property legal/access permissions
highway designation foot horse bicycle vehicle motor_vehicle








etc. [2]


Public Right of Way Footpath public_footpath designated no no no no
permissive/private[3] permissive/private[3] private[3] private[3]
Bridleway public_bridleway designated designated yes no no
private[3] private[3]
Restricted Byway restricted_byway designated designated designated yes no
B.O.A.T. byway_open_to_all_traffic designated designated designated yes yes
Permissive Access Permissive Footpath permissive_footpath/- permissive no no no no
private[3] private[3] private[3] private[3]
Permissive Bridleway permissive_bridleway/- permissive permissive permissive no no
private[3] private[3]
Permissive Cycle Path permissive_cycleway/- permissive no permissive no no
no/private[3] private[3] private[3] private[3]
Pay for Entry Routes - customers/no customers/no customers/no private/no private/no

last update:12/09/2019

Optional Extras
legal Descriptive tags
prow_ref surface tracktype name wheelchair bridge ford note
<val> asphalt/unpaved/paved/ground/gravel/grass/sand/wood grade1/grade2/grade3/grade4/grade5 <text> yes/- yes/boardwalk/- yes/stepping_stones/- <text>

Unique Tagging Scenarios

The following scenarios follow feedback from local property teams and offer tagging suggestions. Please feedback any changes to the proposed tags in the discussion.

Scenario Examples Suggested Tagging Suggested Descriptive Tags
Legal access for walkers/runners exists

(e.g. open access land) but access is temporarily discouraged. [1]

Route has temporary diversions signs at the beginning and end of a route (e.g. for foot erosion control).

Signage recommends use of another route whilst repairs are ongoing (will post example soon).

- highway=* (describes the route on the ground)

- foot=discouraged [2] or no (if route is not accessible)

- horse=no

- bicycle=no

- vehicle=no or private (e.g. maintenance vehicles only)

- motor_vehicle=no or private (e.g. maintenance vehicles only)

- surface = *

- tracktype = *

- note = * (to describe the individual scenario)

* if an obstruction exists,

node to indicate barrier=debris

Temporary obstructions exist (e.g. tree has fallen, landslip/erosion at coastal zones) which makes the route difficult to traverse.
Users need to purchase a permit to access a route. 'Permitted' bridleways on Trust managed land to open areas of an estate to horse riders.

Walking is allowed but cycling is restricted. (e.g. Green way-marked arrows with horseshoe stating 'Permit Holders Only' - will post example soon).

- highway=* (describes the route on the ground)

- foot=permissive

- horse=permit [2]

- bicycle=no

- vehicle=no or private (e.g. maintenance vehicles only)

- motor_vehicle=no or private (e.g. maintenance vehicles only)

- surface = *

- tracktype = *

- note = * (to describe the individual scenario)

Access rights unknown. [1] Path with known access permission (e.g. permissive access for walkers, cyclists) leaves NT managed land. Access on neighbouring land is unclear or not signposted. - highway=* (describes the route on the ground)

- access=unknown

[1] Recommend tags are updated in line with the proposed tagging schema as paths become accessible or access rights on neighbouring land is known.

[2] Community feedback: tags are rarely used/undefined - currently reviewing alternatives.


We're investigating how feasible it is to add National Trust trails into OpenStreetMap as relations. The majority of trails added have been for walkers, however we have added cycle trails and are open to adding other activity trails (e.g. kayak or canoe). We are currently adding 1-2 trails per site as we review and add in paths and access tags. We will update this page or create a new organised edit page to detail our approach should we take this further.

Time frame

We're currently working with a small number of properties to test our methods. We expect wide-scale activities to begin in late 2019/early 2020 and continue to Spring 2021.

Feedback and Contact

To feedback/comment on the project, please use the discussion tab.

For anything else, please contact Andy Woods at


Our core team consists of the following OSM users:

There will be more volunteers participating and we'll ask them to link to this page in their user profile.

OSM Community Meet-ups

Past meet ups

Future meet ups

Tagging Schema Sources

UK Access Provisions:

Access tag values adhere to table provided here:


  1. Guidance for NT staff/volunteers to use to tag paths consistently.
  2. List provided is not extensive. Propose to use the tag to describe the route on the ground.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 Optional tag value to describe specific use cases.