Ramblers steps up ‘Don’t Lose Your Way’ campaign as Defra consultation begins
Miles of well-walked routes across the country which have never been officially recorded as footpaths and bridleways could be lost to the public warns the Ramblers, as Defra launches a consultation on rights of way law. As Britain’s walking charity, the Ramblers is stepping up its Don’t Lose Your Way campaign to ensure that the footpaths we love to walk are properly protected. Whether it’s a shortcut to your village shop or a scenic route by the local river, it’s important that the paths you walk are recorded so that they can be maintained and protected for future generations. Unrecorded paths can be built upon, closed or changed at any time – and once they are gone they are lost forever!
There is a particular urgency to protecting these paths, because under existing law any path which hasn’t been recorded by 2026 will automatically be extinguished. This 2026 ‘cut-off’ date may seem years away, but backlogs in the recording-process coupled with cuts to local authority staff mean that many of the paths already identified could still be lost. Many well-used, totally uncontroversial paths like ones connecting residential streets will fall victim to this.
“Many local authorities across the country have huge backlogs of applications to register paths which are waiting to be officially recorded, but progress is slow,” says Nicky Philpott, Ramblers Director of Policy and Campaigns. ”If nothing is done to change this process then miles of well-used, but unrecorded paths, will be lost to the public when we reach 2026.”
The consultation will run from 14th May until mid August, and the Ramblers has been working with Natural England and other interested groups to find new procedures to ensure that all paths get the protection they need. Defra has now unveiled plans to take those proposals forward.
“We have been working, on behalf of all walkers, to suggest ways in which this process could be made better,” adds Philpott. “We will be responding to the consultation to ensure that the route you take to your local shop and the riverside path you love to walk will not be lost.”