Uncovering new routes

National Access Adviser Sophie Dwerryhouse looks at the Ramblers’ proposed campaign to uncover 49,000 miles of paths by 2026

Many members will be aware of the Ramblers' latest campaign, Don’t Lose Your Way, which is aimed at discovering lost paths and in due course to apply to have them added to the Definitive Map before the cut-off date of January 2026. The campaign involved volunteers researching potential routes in England and Wales, using a mapping tool based on historic Ordnance Survey (OS) maps.

OS maps provide a relatively light form of evidence of public rights of way when making a claim for a new route, while they do set out what is visible on the ground, they do not provide reliable evidence of whether a route is a public highway or private. For more information on the evidential weight of different types of documentary evidence for historic claims, interested members could look at the ‘Consistency Guidelines,’ as a starting point.

Once the volunteers have completed their first task of finding suspected routes on the mapping tool (they claim there are around 49,000 miles of them), their next step is to prioritise those paths which would be of most benefit to people. To have a greater chance of success, at this point, the Ramblers may look for additional evidence to submit with their applications. To name some examples, this could be in the form of tithe maps, inclosure maps and awards or possibly railway and canal plans.

What all of this means to members is there may be additional interest in the areas the Ramblers have marked. Members who are interested can log on and register here to see what routes are potentially going to be claimed in their area. The fact that a route may have been marked does not mean it is certain to be claimed or, if it is, that there is sufficient evidence to justify the route’s addition to the Definitive Map. It could, however, mean that an application is made in due course which you may wish to defend.

The CLA is here to help you. Please feel free to contact your regional office or the national team directly, we can assist with any queries or concerns you may have with regard to this campaign, the process when an application is made or specific advice on applications for new routes over your property.

Key contact:

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Sophie Dwerryhouse Regional Director, CLA Midlands