4 Rights of Way

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Rights of way are at the heart of Herts and North Middlesex Ramblers' interests. This page is an introduction to our footpath work. Go to the linked pages for more information.

Local RoW News: We have seen some big improvements in Hertfordshire recently, notably at Tyttenhanger and Knebworth. David Glass is heavily involved in the public inquiry into Network Rail level crossing closures. Follow the Recent RoW Changes link on the right for more details.

Our Area is increasing its effort to record unrecorded ways before 1/1/2026 through an Area “Don’t Lose Your Way” project. We have recently set up a new RoW group in Barnet, now identifying routes that should be added to the Definitive Map. Follow the Don’t Lose Your Way link on the right to find out more about it and how you could help.

Our Footpath Secretaries

In our Area, the work on footpaths is organised at the Area level. Over 50 volunteers act as local footpath secretaries, each looking after one or more parishes within Hertfordshire or a London Borough. They walk their footpaths a couple of times a year and report any problems to the Local Authority.  Footpath Secretaries also respond to occasional correspondence about parish footpaths that are sent to Ramblers Central Office.

Our Footpath Secretaries meet four times a year to discuss footpath issues and share best practice. Together we have huge experience of protecting and enhancing our footpath network.

New volunteers are always needed, especially within Hertfordshire. It is such an important part of the work we do.

To find out more, go to Our Footpath Secretaries page using the link on the right.

Reporting footpath problems

Please take the trouble to report what you find and help us to pass on a network in even better condition. Walkers cover more miles of path than any employed council officer can manage to survey. Our reports are welcomed because they help to make the paths better for everyone. The simplest way to report a problem is to put the Pathwatch app on your phone and record the problem while you are on the walk - then you don't even need to work out your location! You can download the app here. But this may not allow you to describe the problem fully and will take time to get to the Highway Authority responsible for fixing it. Each month, Ramblers send reports listing problems to the Highway Authority and the Footpath Secretary.

For swifter action, report to the Highway Authority directly and/or to the Ramblers Footpath Secretary. For more information on fault reporting in our Area go to our Problem Reporting page using the link on the right.

If the footpath is outside our Area, do still consider making reports. With the Pathwatch App on your phone, you don’t even need to know what county you are in to make your report on the spot. Many council websites now have interactive maps for reporting problems, or at least contain details and contacts for public rights of way.

Local Authorities

Local Authorities are responsible for managing and maintaining the rights of way network.  Most of the responsibilities lie with the Highways Authorities but Planning Authorities have powers to modify the network in some circumstances.

In Hertfordshire there are two tiers of local authority.  The County Council is the higher level and there are ten District/Borough Councils.  In rural areas there is a third tier with more than 200 parish councils. Details are on our Rights of Way in Hertfordshire page using the link on the right.

The three London Boroughs in our Area, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey are unitary authorities but the London Mayor exercises some strategic functions. Details are on our Rights of Way in London Boroughs page via the link on the right.

Footpath Working Parties

This Area does not itself organise working parties. However, many of our members are involved with groups such as the Chilterns Society, the St Albans Footpath Society and the Enfield Conservation Volunteers who do go out to work on the footpaths in their patch.  Further details may be found on their websites. You will find a full list of footpath societies operating in our Area, and a link to their websites on our Contacts page.

The Chilterns Society are looking for more help for work in Hertfordshire. You can read more about it in this article from Stile June 15: Maintaining our footpaths - how you can help  PDF.

Others work with The Countryside Management Service (CMS) who organise volunteer groups for Hertfordshire County Council.  More information about the CMS is on our Rights of Way in Hertfordshire page.

Find out more about Rights of Way

You will find a lot of helpful information on the main Ramblers website. Under “Advice” (see tab at the top of this page), there is a section on “Rights of way law”. Particularly useful are:

  • Introduction to public paths - a very brief introduction.
  • Basic rights of way law - answers questions on details of the law, starting with a list of the different types of rights of way.
  • Definitive maps explained
  • Changes to the path network - outlines the legal procedures involved in making changes.

The section “Improve the path network” contains more, such as “Creating a right of way” and “How to claim an unrecorded right of way”.

If you would like to find out in detail how to research historic rights for the Don't Lose Your Way project, the Area have a couple of copies of "Rights of Way - Restoring the Record" by Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey (the "Green Book") available for loan. Contact the Area Chair if you would like to borrow a copy.