2026 and the case for postponement

The rights of way network is one of our nation’s greatest assets: it connects people to nature and our rural and urban environment. It describes how our ancestors interacted with, and enjoyed, the landscape over centuries.

From 1 January 2026, it will no longer be possible to add rights of way to the legal record (the definitive map) in England and Wales on the basis of historical evidence. Unrecorded routes, many of which go back centuries, need to be identified and claimed before the 2026 cut off so they can be secured for generations to come. These unrecorded routes exist in law; many exist on the ground and are in current use, whilst others would provide useful additional routes and linkages to the existing network. All are in danger of having their rights permanently extinguished in 2026.

Ramblers volunteers up and down the country are fighting hard to claim these historic paths through our Don’t Lose Your Way project, however we are concerned that this rich heritage is at risk unless we have more time to claim these paths. In England, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has the power to extend the cut-off date. The Ramblers believe that the time is right to extend the cut-off to 2031 so that these historic paths can be enjoyed by generations to come.  

Discover more about the path to 2026 and download our detailed briefing.

You can join in the fight for these historic paths by downloading our Guide to finding lost rights of way.