2026 and investigating forgotten paths

As walkers, we all have a huge appreciation of the importance of the rights of way network to our enjoyment of the outdoors - over 130,000 miles of path across England and Wales.

However, the fact remains that many footpaths and bridleways are at risk of closure because they have never been legally recorded on a definitive map. In some cases such paths are no longer obvious on the ground. However, if proof can be found of their one-time existence, it may be possible to reinstate them – and protect them for future generations.

Which is where you come in.

This initiative is all about researching forgotten paths on maps and documents in your local area, where you live and walk. The more people out there scouring libraries and public records offices for documentation, the more paths we can save before the 2026 deadline, after which pre-1949 paths which haven’t been claimed will be extinguished.

How to claim an unrecorded right of way

Download a guide which gives you step-by-step instructions for finding forgotten paths, and, once found, how to claim to have them added to the definitive map. Other information about types of documentary evidence can be found in this document.

There is also general information about claiming public rights of way and how to claim an unrecorded right of way on our own dedicated webpage here.

Further information is available from jack.cornish@ramblers.org.uk