1 January 2026 is the cut-off date for adding historic paths to what is known as the definitive map: the official record of the public’s rights of way in an area. When a path is on this map, it not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it is much easier to protect and maintain. However, any path which came into existence before 1949 and that has not been requested to be on the map by 2026 will be lost - forever!
We’ve been working with the government to make sure that the process for registering paths on the definitive map is as easy as it can be so that as many paths as possible can be recorded before it is too late.
Acknowledged experts, Phil Wadey and Sarah Buck, will be presenting a training course based on their book ‘Rights of Way - Restoring the Record’ at The Morrison Trust Conference and Training Centre, Darlington on Saturday 4 March 2017. The aim of the training events is to enthuse, enable and empower rights of way researchers to make definitive map modification order applications to ensure that routes that would be extinguished in 2026 are saved from the cut off date.
The day will concentrate on identifying routes, the key sources of evidence of historic ways, where that information is located, what it can tell us, and how a systematic research method is the best way forward.
Details of the day:
Date: Saturday 4 March 2017 starting 09:30, finishing approx 16:00
Venue: Morrison Trust Conference & Training Centre
Includes: tea/coffee (but please bring your own lunch; note that there is a large Morrisons supermarket attached to the training centre).
To make a booking, please send an e-mail to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no charge for the event but delegates will have to meet their own travel expenses. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Additional information will be sent to delegates nearer the time.
Please take a copy of ‘Rights of Way - Restoring the Record’ with you if you have one, and a laptop to take part in some practical activities. (Smart phones and tablets may not be suitable for all activities but may be better than nothing.) Wi-fi is provided.
We held a seminar on 5 October 2016 for volunteers working on this project to get together and share experiences and advice. You can now view the presentations, IT FAQs and report from the day.
If you attended the seminar, it would be really helpful if you could fill out this short survey so that we can use your feedback to plan future events and make decisions about the next steps for this work.
If you couldn't attend, but would like to tell us about the work you're doing on lost ways, please fill out this survey.
We'll also be running more training sessions on finding lost ways over the next year. Check back here soon for more information and dates.
Find out more about getting started by using our handy toolkit.
If a path’s not on the definitive map it can be closed off or built on with no chance to get it back. You can find out more about definitive maps and rights of way law in our Go Walking section.
The creation of the definitive map was never meant to be open-ended and various governments over the years since its creation in 1948 have tried to complete and close the process for recording older paths. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) officially introduced the cut-off date for adding historic paths to definitive maps. This measure came about largely in order to ensure that landowners have a clear idea of whether land they owned has a right of way on it. Opposition from the Ramblers and others ensured that the cut -off date was set as 2026 rather than 2016 as was originally proposed.
For an account of Ramblers’ involvement in this process please see our Historic Paths and Definitive Maps timeline.
Our proposals should save councils as much as £2 million.