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Join the search to save thousands of miles of lost historic paths

Jack Cornish, Don’t Lose Your Way Programme Manager at the Ramblers, explains why we could lose thousands of miles of historic footpaths across our beautiful countryside unless we act now.

February 2020

At the Ramblers, we’re asking you to help us find and map thousands of miles of lost historic paths across England and Wales, with the launch of our new Don’t Lose Your Way campaign.

An estimated 10,000 miles of historic paths – the equivalent of the distance from London to Sydney – are thought to be missing from the map in England and Wales. These historic paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries, yet if they are not claimed by 2026, we risk losing them forever.

We want to build a movement to help find all these missing rights of way before it’s too late. Our paths are one of our most precious assets. They connect us to our landscapes – ensuring we can explore our towns and cities on foot and enjoy walking in the countryside – and to our history and the people who formed them over the centuries.

If we lose our paths, a little bit of our past goes with them. This is our only opportunity to save thousands of miles of rights of way and time is running out.

Join the search

The new mapping tool developed by the Ramblers divides the maps of England and Wales into thousands of squares, which users can select to compare historic and current maps of the area side-by-side. Simply select a square, do a quick ‘spot the difference’, mark on any missing paths and click submit. It takes just a few minutes to check a square.

There are just six years until the Government cut-off date of 2026, when it will no longer be possible to add paths to the definitive map based on historic evidence, meaning our right to access them will not be protected for the future.

The mapping project will give us a true picture of the number of paths missing from the map, enabling us to prioritise those which should be researched and applied for ahead of the deadline.

Finding and mapping the paths is only the first step. Once all the lost rights of way are mapped, the Ramblers will be recruiting people to join a team of dedicated volunteers, researching historic evidence and submitting applications to local authorities ahead of the 2026 deadline, to get them restored to the map.

You can help us find, map and save all the rights of way that have gone missing from the map by joining the campaign and encouraging everyone you know to get mapping too!

Join the search now:

Don't Lose Your Way is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Follow @RamblersGB for updates about the campaign #dontloseyourway

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.