How the government told us about their U-turn on saving lost paths

23 March 2023

No public statement from the government, but they’re putting paths at risk

The government has broken its promise to cancel the deadline on saving lost paths and instead introduced a new deadline of 2031.  

The success of our Don’t Lose Your Way campaigns shows how much the public cares about historic footpaths. They are not only a link to our past but they also connect communities and give people a chance to explore the outdoors.

Yet the government has made no public statement about the U-turn.

We thought it was important it’s shared with you, so here it is:


The email from Defra

 “In February 2022 we announced Ministers had decided to repeal the uncommenced cut-off date provisions in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) and take forward the right to apply provisions only. This was subsequently extended to the full rights of way reform package as agreed by the Stakeholder Working Group.   

“As some of you will know, uncommenced provisions in CROW contain a cut-off date of 1 January 2026 for recording historic (pre-1949) rights of way on the definitive map. The effect of these provisions is that after the cut-off date, any historic rights of way not recorded on the definitive map will, with certain exceptions, be extinguished.  

“The Secretary of State has decided to commence the cut-off date instead of repealing it, and to press ahead with the full package of reforms as planned. In doing so, the Secretary of State is keen to promote responsible access, protect nature and support people who work and live in the countryside. 

“Commencing the cut-off date will maintain the original intention of CROW to bring certainty to all parties. However, in recognising that the reforms have experienced delays due to Covid, the Secretary of State has also decided to use existing powers in CROW to implement a full five-year extension to 1 January 2031, which will allow time for the reforms to take effect.  

“As a result, we are now preparing for the cut-off date to come into effect in 2031 and to carry on with our work to implement the reforms. This means we will need to formally commence the CROW cut-off date provisions alongside the reforms.  

“We understand that for some of you this news will be disappointing. However, the Secretary of State remains committed to implementing the rights of way reform package which will see significant improvements for all parties. We will continue to work with the Stakeholder Working Group to agree additional measures to manage the cut-off date transition, and seek to finalise and lay all the necessary statutory instruments to bring in the reforms as swiftly as possible.”


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.  

don't lose your way

Government breaks promise to scrap deadline for saving lost paths

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


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.