During the previous lockdown and no doubt in the lockdown that begins tomorrow Thursday we will want to use our public footpaths to keep the oxygen in our lungs and our spirits high.
But are they all on official maps? Because if not – we could lose some of them!
The borough of Waverley boasts many well-used and treasured rights of way. The footpaths and bridlepaths around our towns and villages have provided routes for walkers and riders for centuries. However, parish councils, whose members once walked and monitored the footpaths in their areas are now finding it more and more difficult to ensure they remain open and accessible.
The WW understands that soon, thousands of footpaths could be lost forever!
There are now 50,000 miles of rights of way not marked on any maps – some of which date back to Roman times.
The Government has now set a deadline of 2026 for submissions to make established footpaths official and included on Ordnance Survey maps. Routes submitted will then be considered by councils and civil servants for inclusion. However, landowners will be able to contest claims.
Once the exercise is completed, it will no longer be possible to use historical evidence, or local knowledge, to guarantee public rights of way – and some will be lost forever.
The Ramblers Association is fearful that it will not be able to get all the lost routes on the map. Some of which are thousands of years old. The Association is currently amassing evidence of the at-risk paths and volunteers have been scouring 154,000 one-kilometre squares of England and Wales using an online mapping tool to find them. They have discovered uncovered paths left off maps by councils when they drew up their footpath lists in the 1950s.
To date 49,138 missing paths have been discovered – some now unusable – others still in use.
Contact The Don’t Lose Your Way project at The Ramblers Association if you believe you know of paths which may not be mapped. At a time when public rights of way are more important than ever – speak up now – or forever hold your peace?http://www.ramblers.org.uk/DLYW