England and Wales have about 140,000 miles of footpaths, but it is estimated more than 10,000 have been lost from current maps. Volunteers have been working tirelessly to rediscover them and put in legal applications for the recovery of lost paths before a government deadline in 2026 after which claims will no longer be accepted.
Would you like to join the search?
If you have already found a lost footpath, how did you find and identify it? If you put in an application for a path to be recovered we’d also like to hear about it.
Memory lanes: the ramblers trying to save 10,000 lost footpaths
Below are some tips on how to rediscover a lost footpath:
1. The first port of call is the Ramblers, whose website gives clear advice on how to identify a lost path and make an application. The method involves comparing new and old maps, plus examination of historical sources. Walking and exploration is involved, but don’t forget that a lost path has to be proven before you can use it, otherwise you are trespassing.
2. It is also important to be sure you are not replicating work already underway. This government website can give you information on current applications.
3. You may also know of paths that are used regularly, but are not on the definitive map (you can ask your local council to see that map). Any footpath walked by the public for 20 years without any attempt by the landowner to prevent access can be made a right of way. Check your local walking groups for people actively walking along unmapped routes to help establish this right.
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