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.
The British Horse Society is holding free training sessions and Ramblers members and others working on finding lost ways are welcome.
Find out when and where they are happening.
More dates will be announced soon.
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.