Government breaks promise to scrap deadline for saving lost paths

The UK government has broken its commitment to abolishing the 2026 deadline for saving lost paths

23 March 2023

Thousands of miles of paths across England are now at risk of being lost forever 

The UK government has broken its commitment to abolishing the 2026 deadline for saving lost paths. Instead, it has reinstated a deadline, which will now come into effect in 2031. This is the latest attack on everyone’s rights to access and enjoy the outdoors. 


What was originally promised by the UK government?

Thanks to members of the public who supported our Don’t Lose Your Way campaign, we know there are 41,000 miles of these lost paths across England. These paths have no legal protection and could be lost forever unless applications are made to add them to official records.

In February 2022, the UK government announced it was committed to abolishing the 2026 deadline to get lost paths legally recognised. This was a great campaign win and the right decision by the government – which is why today’s announcement is inexcusable.


What does a deadline mean for lost paths?

Our paths are a national treasure, which should be cherished and protected, but today’s U-turn means that paths in England that have not been researched and registered by 2031 will be lost forever. It’s another broken promise, coming just weeks after the government claimed it was committed to ensuring everyone is within a 15-minute walk of green space.

We have amazing landscapes and countryside in England, and our paths help us explore them safely and responsibly. We should be improving opportunities for communities to get outdoors and connect with nature, not reducing them.

The Ramblers currently has more than 600 volunteers working hard to do the research required to save the 41,000 miles of paths that are missing from the map in England. We will continue to submit applications to save these paths, but a deadline of any kind puts unnecessary pressure on under-resourced local authorities.

We believe there is already a backlog of more than 4,000 applications waiting to be processed and the government has reintroduced a deadline without any plans to address the backlog. 

Unless the government rethinks their decision or puts the necessary funding in place to make it possible for paths to be researched, applied for and processed within the time limit they’ve imposed, historic paths will be lost for future generations. 


How can I help?

  • Join the movement – Sign up to be the first to hear about progress on the campaign, and ways to get involved.  

  • Donate - A donation will help us develop the online map and the tools we need to build applications for lost paths.  

  • Volunteer – Help us to prioritise, apply for, and save lost paths.  


barbed wire and stopping walkers from path

Saving lost paths

The Ramblers Don’t Lose Your Way project identified over 49,000 miles of potential lost paths but what’s involved with saving a lost path?


Don’t Lose Your Way – Saving lost paths

We have searched England and Wales and found over 49,000 miles of paths that could be lost forever. Time is running out to save them for future generations. 

Path problems water uneven ground

Resolving problems with path surfaces

 If you have repeatedly reported a problem to the local authority and no action has been taken you can use the law to force the council into action