I am wondering how to tag the land besides public footpaths through rural areas. As far as i am aware after doing some research almost all land besides roads, so basically the verges, are de facto publicly accessible since they form part of a public highway. That is to say the entirety of the land between whatever marks the boundary of the highway, usually a hedge, fence, ditch etc, is legally public and so should be tagged ‘access=yes’. Does anyone know the situation for public footpaths/bridleways etc? For example there is a footpath which is basically a farm track providing access for the farmer as well which is bounded by a hedge each side 12ft apart. Now the track/public footpath is only about 5ft wide and runs down the middle, but is the land each side of the patch between the hedges also part of what is effectively a public highway (if only for foot). In the olden days before roads for cars existed as they do now all public highways would be as the path is now more or less, and as such the entireity of the space between the hedges would have been public. Would this still be the case? After all this continued to be the case with paved roads with the verges now belonging to the local council. Any thoughts?
Another thought: if they are not legally public, could they be tagged as ‘access=permissive’ since the landowner/farmer would be quite happy no doubt for any users of the path to use the entirety of the space between the hedges if they so wanted to?