The UK Government announced yesterday that it will scrap its own deadline to register historic paths in England, following pressure from access campaigners. The public had been given until 1 January 2026 to apply to save hitherto unmapped rights of way through private land, after which time any unlisted paths could have been permanently lost.
This means there'll be more time for groups such as the Ramblers to save the most important and useful paths, ensuring they're added back to the map and protected for the future. It will also help ease pressure on under-resourced local authorities, who need to process all the claims for missing rights of way. The 2026 deadline latterly applied only to England, having already been cancelled in Wales back in 2018.
"After years of campaigning by the Ramblers, the announcement by the government that they will abolish the 2026 deadline for registering historic paths is a cause for celebration" said Jack Cornish, the organisation's Head of Paths.
"This welcome decision means that, with the help of our brilliant volunteers, we'll be able to make sure the most important and useful paths are added back to the map and protected for future generations. And we no longer have the pressure of an arbitrary deadline in either England or Wales that put so many of our rights of way at risk."
In 2020, thousands of supporters joined the Ramblers' Don't Lose Your Way campaign to search for 'lost' paths, unearthing over 49,000 miles of potential unrecorded rights of way in England and Wales.
"The amazing response we had from the public to help us search for missing rights of way just goes to show what an important place our path network holds in the hearts of so many of us. By getting the most useful of these paths back on the map, we will not only be saving a little bit of our history, we'll also be able to improve the existing network, creating new and better walking routes, enabling more of us to more easily enjoy the outdoors" said Jack Cornish at the time.
While the deadline is now set to be abolished, the Ramblers are still keen to continue the process of recording lost paths.
Jack added: "We can't relax yet – it's still important that we get these paths applied for and added to the map, so we can all have access to great places to go walking and connect with nature. We look forward to continuing to work with our amazing volunteers and with local authorities to protect our wonderful network of recorded and unrecorded paths for generations to come."
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Some additional opinion & background from 1.5 years ago.
And here: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/articles/features/author_nick_hayes_on_trespass_and_the_right_to_roam-13215
Wow! Some good news from the government!
Some landowners will not be happy, even though the 'threat' of paths appearing on their land was not really that serious in most cases , and there are some measures in the legislative package that will benefit them somewhat.
Local authorities will have mixed feelings - some were looking forward to not having to deal with this sort of application any more!
User groups will be pleased. It would be nice to see measured and reasonable applications being made for useful 'lost' paths from now on now that there's much more time.
Poor land owners.