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A wooden stile in Esha Ness, Shetland. Shetland Stile.jpg
A wooden stile in Esha Ness, Shetland.

A stile is a structure or opening that provides people passage over or through a boundary via steps, ladders, or narrow gaps. [1] Stiles are often built in rural areas along footpaths, fences, walls, or hedges that enclose animals, allowing people to move freely. [2]



Bridge-shaped stile in Hanbury, Worcestershire Hanbury, Worcs, bridge stile 2.jpg
Bridge-shaped stile in Hanbury, Worcestershire

In the United Kingdom many stiles were built under legal compulsion (see Rights of way in the United Kingdom). Recent changes in UK government policy towards farming has encouraged upland landowners to make access more available to the public, and this has seen an increase in the number of stiles and an improvement in their overall condition. However stiles are deprecated [3] and are increasingly being replaced by gates or kissing gates or, where the field is arable, the stile removed. Many legacy stiles remain, however, in a variety of forms (as is also the case in the US, where there is no standard). As well as having a variety of forms, stiles also sometimes include a 'dog latch' or 'dog gate' to the side of them, which can be lifted to enable a dog to get through (see pictures below).

A squeeze stile Squeezer stile. - - 110502.jpg
A squeeze stile

An alternative form of stile is a squeeze stile, which is commonly used where footpaths cross dry stone walls in England. With this type of stile there is a vertical gap in the wall, usually no more than 25 centimetres (9.8 in) wide, and often with stone pillars on either side to protect the structure of the wall. The gap must be narrow enough to prevent livestock getting through.

See also

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Masonry The building of structures from individual units of stone, brick, or block

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Trail riding Traveling on trails and forest roads by horse, bicycle, motorcycle, or all-terrain vehicle

Trail riding is riding outdoors on trails, bridle paths, and forest roads, but not on roads regularly used by motorised traffic. A trail ride can be of any length, including a long distance, multi-day trip. It originated with horse riding, and in North America, the equestrian form is usually called "trail riding," or, less often "hacking." In the UK and Europe, the practice is usually called horse or pony trekking.

Offas Dyke Ancient earthwork in the United Kingdom

Offa's Dyke is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the current border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. Although its precise original purpose is debated, it delineated the border between Anglian Mercia and the Welsh kingdom of Powys.

Castle Fortified residential structure of medieval Europe

A castle is a type of fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble. This is distinct from a palace, which is not fortified; from a fortress, which was not always a residence for royalty or nobility; and from a fortified settlement, which was a public defence – though there are many similarities among these types of construction. Usage of the term has varied over time and has been applied to structures as diverse as hill forts and country houses. Over the approximately 900 years that castles were built, they took on a great many forms with many different features, although some, such as curtain walls, arrowslits, and portcullises, were commonplace.

Sidewalk Pedestrian path along the side of a road

A sidewalk, pavement, footpath, or footway, is a path along the side of a road. Usually constructed of concrete or asphalt, it is designed for pedestrians. A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade (height) and is normally separated from the vehicular section by a curb. There may also be a median strip or road verge either between the sidewalk and the roadway or between the sidewalk and the boundary.

Trail Path with a rough beaten or dirt/stone surface used for travel

A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, path or footpath is the preferred term for a walking trail. The term is also applied, in North America, to routes along rivers, and sometimes to highways. In the US, the term was historically used for a route into or through wild territory used by emigrants. In the USA "trace" is a synonym for trail, as in Natchez Trace. Some trails are single use and can only be used for walking, cycling, horse riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing; others, as in the case of a bridleway in the UK, are multi-use, and can be used by walkers, cyclists and equestrians. There are also unpaved trails used by dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles and in some places, like the Alps, trails are used for moving cattle and other livestock.

Ladder A vertical or steeply inclined set of rungs or steps

A ladder is a vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps.

Footpath Thoroughfare for pedestrians

A footpath is a type of thoroughfare that is intended for use only by pedestrians and not other forms of traffic such as motorized vehicles, cycles, and horses. They can be found in a wide variety of places, from the centre of cities, to farmland, to mountain ridges. Urban footpaths are usually paved, may have steps, and can be called alleys, lanes, steps, etc.

Turnstile Mechanism that allows users to pass at a time

A turnstile is a form of gate which allows one person to pass at a time. It can also be made so as to enforce one-way human traffic, and in addition, it can restrict passage only to people who insert a coin, a ticket, a pass, or similar. Thus a turnstile can be used in the case of paid access, for example to access public transport, a pay toilet, or to restrict access to authorized people, for example in the lobby of an office building.

Dry stone Construction method

Dry stone, sometimes called drystack or, in Scotland, drystane, is a building method by which structures are constructed from stones without any mortar to bind them together. Dry stone structures are stable because of their construction method, which is characterized by the presence of a load-bearing façade of carefully selected interlocking stones.

Watford Locks

Watford Locks is a group of seven locks on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal, in Northamptonshire, England, famous for the Watford Gap service area.

Pet door

A pet door or pet flap is a small opening to allow pets to enter and exit a building on their own without needing a human to open the door. Originally simple holes, the modern form is a hinged and often spring-loaded panel or flexible flap, and some are electronically controlled. They offer a degree of protection against wind, rain, and larger-bodied intruders entering the dwelling. Similar hatches can let dogs through fences at stiles. A related concept is the pet gate, which is easy for humans to open but acts as a secure pet barrier, as well as the automated left- or right-handed pet doors.

Kissing gate

A kissing gate is a type of gate that allows people, but not livestock, to pass through.

High Crag

High Crag stands at the southern end of the High Stile ridge which divides the valleys of Ennerdale and Buttermere in the west of the English Lake District. It is often climbed as part of a popular ridge walk, from Black Sail youth hostel, or from Buttermere via Scarth Gap. Panoramas of the Great Gable and the Scafells are visible.

Meanwood Valley Trail

The Meanwood Valley Trail is a waymarked footpath and the title of an annual (March/April) footrace that takes place on parts of the trail in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England. It runs for a distance of 7 miles (11 km) from the statue of Henry Rowland Marsden, 1878, on Woodhouse Moor, close to the University of Leeds, through Headingley, Meanwood and Adel to Breary Marsh, Golden Acre Park, where it meets the Leeds Country Way. For most of its route it is the official Leeds link to the Dales Way. Along the way are signs giving information about the local wildlife.

The Ramblers Hikers association in the UK

The Ramblers is Great Britain’s leading walking charity, celebrating the pleasures of walking and protecting the places people love to walk. The Ramblers is also a membership organisation with around 100,000 members and a network of volunteers who maintain and protect the path network. They believe everyone, everywhere should be able to experience the joy of walking and have access to green spaces to walk close to home.

The footpaths of Gibraltar provide access to key areas of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, a refuge for hundreds of species of flora and fauna which in some cases are found nowhere else in Europe. The reserve occupies the upper part of the Rock of Gibraltar, a long and narrow mountain that rises to a maximum height of 424 metres (1,391 ft) above sea level, and constitutes around 40 per cent of Gibraltar's total land area. The unusual geology of the Rock of Gibraltar – a limestone peak adjoining a sandstone hinterland – provides a habitat for plants and animals, such as the Gibraltar candytuft and Barbary partridge, which are found nowhere else in mainland Europe. For many years, the Upper Rock was reserved exclusively for military use; it was fenced off for military purposes, but was decommissioned and converted into a nature reserve in 1993.

Slip gate

Slip Gates, also known as Stang Stoops, Yatsteads or Stang Pole Gateways are a form of simple gate that once commonly in Europe controlled access to fields, lanes, etc. using removable cross-bars and two fixed posts, often of stone. The usually wood spars or stangs were slotted into grooves cut into the stone piers and held firmly in place at one end with wedges and on the other end by being placed in a deep square or circular socket. Most other gates are formed of a fuller frame; many instead have hinges.

Rambler gate

A rambler gate is a self-closing footpath barrier that is in common use in some parts of Britain. It is designed to allow pedestrians to pass but to provide an effective barrier to livestock. It resembles a squeeze stile but the gap can be expanded by pushing a pair of pivot posts apart. The pivot posts will close under their own weight but are held back by a number of short chains so that they cannot touch. In the closed position, the pivot posts and the chains prevent the passage of animals. There may be a simple latch to hold the two pivot posts together.


  1. "Definition of STILE". Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  2. Life, Country (2016-09-08). "Country crossings: a stile guide". Country Life. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  3. British Standard BS5709:2018 Gaps Gates & Stiles ( ISBN   978 0 580 98210 1)