The Ridgeway follows a series of well-signed public rights of way along which people have a legal right of access. The high standard of signing means that users of the Trail can follow it without needing a map or guide, although these do usually enhance a visit.
An acorn, the symbol of Britain's National Trails, is used to guide your journey by marking the route in a variety of ways. It is used in conjunction with coloured arrows or the words 'footpath', 'bridleway', 'restricted byway' or 'byway' to indicate who can use a particular right of way.
The word 'footpath' and/or a yellow arrow indicates a path for use by walkers only and where, without the landowner's permission, it is illegal to cycle, ride a horse or drive a vehicle. 26.5% of The Ridgeway is footpath.
The word 'bridleway' and/or a blue arrow indicates a path which can be used by walkers, horseriders and cyclists but where, without the landowner's permission, it is illegal to drive any vehicle. 12.3% of The Ridgeway is bridleway.
The words 'restricted byway' and/or a purple arrow indicates a path that can be used by walkers, horseriders, cyclists and drivers of horse-drawn carriages but where, without the landowner's permission, it is illegal to drive any vehicle. 25.7% of The Ridgeway is restricted byway. (NB this is a new category of public right of way introduced in May 2006 to replace paths previously called Roads Used as a Public Path. Signage of these paths will take place during the summer of 2006.)
The word 'byway' and/or a red arrow indicates a right of way which can be legally used by walkers, horseriders, cyclists and motorists. 19.5% of The Ridgeway is byway.
11.2% of The Ridgeway is tarmac road, a mixture of short sections of quiet lanes, and slightly longer sections, sometimes on busy roads with pavements, through small towns or villages.
The western half of The Ridgeway is signposted where it crosses roads and other rights of way, but generally its course is obvious. The eastern half is less obvious and has recycled plastic and occasional metal signposts, and acorns and arrows on gates, waymark posts and the few remaining stiles.