Styles of Stiles

Part of the OS map near Waddington, red-dashed lines are public footpaths.One of the reasons we came to England was to walk the footpaths. For hundreds of years the country lanes, footpaths and tracks of England have been traversed by many a traveler. They lead through fields and farms, villages and towns, and places of legend and history.

In England and Wales a Public Footpath is a path that the public has a legally protected right to travel on foot. Normally extended only to walking, most footpaths in the countryside are hundreds of years old.

Walking in England requires several things. First are the things you bring with you, good shoes and clothing for multiple seasons in any one day. Also important is a good map, compass, and the ability to use both, and depending on the length of the walk, of course, food and water.

Q - Can you locate the stile? A - Far right-hand corner of field, next to tree. - WCF-1220Secondly however, as there are endless fences, walls, and hedgerows, one of the more important things you will require while walking England are stiles. A stile is a structure which allows people passage through or over a  fence, wall or hedgerow and prevents farm animals from doing the same thing.

Fortunately, stiles are provided, even though they can be difficult to locate across a large field or pasture.

Stiles come in various configurations – some ably demonstrated by Jeannie:


Common two-step stiles have steps that criss-cross though some have stair-like step.

 A kissing gate - WCF-1678.jpg

A kissing gate consists of a semi-circular, square or V-shaped enclosure on one side and a hinged gate that swings between two shutting posts, it allows one person at a time to pass through but keeps livestock out. Sometimes there is a gravity closer keeping it closed to one side.

 Squeeze stile - WCF-3476.jpg

A squeeze stile, you must truly squeeze through. However a problem with this kind of stile is that it can allow small animals (i.e. lambs) to pass.

A step stile - WCF-4247.jpg

A step stile built into a stone fence.

A step stile - WCF-2549.jpg

A ladder stile.

 A bridge stile - WCF-1117.jpg

A bridge stile. This one only has a baffle at the far end, usually there are baffles at both ends.

 Stile with no purpose - WCF-1886.jpg

Stile with no purpose.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I came across a stile(I think ) near Llandudno but have found no examples in yours nor other descriptions. I have a photo and would love to share. It is a flat, verticals stone (worn over time by feet stepping on it?)set between a stone wall. Any ideas?

  2. I agree with your other readers that it would be nice if we had such structures in America.

  3. Thanks Chris! Very interesting and novel. Like I have mentioned before, this is better than National Geographic.

  4. I had no idea!

  5. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  6. You learn something every day. I like the ones with the boards that go through, going from each direction. Jeannie was a great stile model

  7. I never knew about this path or these little jewels to aid you on your journey! You and your wife are teachers! Journey Teachers!

  8. Being avid hikers, this story along with photos is really neat. Wouldnt it be glorious to have that sense of community in the States? Thanks for sharing.

  9. Fascinating! Have always loved the idea of a stile since hearing the nursery rhyme “There Was a Crooked Man.” Did you, in all of your walking, ever find “a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile?” 🙂

  10. Nice blog .. An accurate reflection of life in the old country

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