Don’t Lose Your Way volunteer recognised for work to save lost footpaths

Three men and a Ramblers commendation certificate

A member of the Andover Ramblers has received a commendation to recognise his work identifying and claiming lost paths, after being nominated by the Hampshire Area Ramblers.

There are thousands of miles of paths missing from the definitive map across England and Wales, at risk of being lost forever if they are not claimed by the government cut-off date of 2026. Paul Howland is certainly playing his part to make sure none are missed in Hampshire. Paul has received a commendation to recognise his hard work to get lost paths back on the map.

Leading the campaign to search for lost ways in Hampshire, Paul has so far submitted an incredible total of over 60 applications to get missing paths added to the map, covering 110 separate rights way. 

Paul has dedicated many hours to this work, which involves inspecting ancient routes and researching old maps and documentation in London and Winchester archives to unearth enough evidence to convince the Local Authority and Government inspectors that the paths should be recorded as a public right of way. Paul’s applications are all now with Hampshire County Council for processing, but he’s not stopping there – Paul intends to continue his work right up to the 2026 deadline.

Paul said:

“So many parts of the country and parts of Hampshire in particular, are poorly served by an interlinked rights of way network and often the lost ways can make a big contribution to improving the connectedness of the network if we can get them reinstated. 

“It’s really interesting work, seeing how the countryside has evolved over the centuries. The reasons why paths are lost is often lost in the mists of time and the stories are often quite difficult to unearth but I enjoy the detective work!”

Jack Cornish, programme manager for Don’t Lose Your Way, said: “Paul has been a historic paths stalwart - putting hundreds of hours in to add these paths back to the map. Our dedicated volunteers like Paul are working so hard to make sure we don’t lose our historic rights of way – we couldn’t do this without them. Not only are these paths a part of our history, carved out by feet over hundreds of years, but they are also vital to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy access to the countryside.”

Find out more about our Don’t Lose Your Way campaign and how you can get involved in the fight to save our lost rights of way.

Photo: Hampshire Area Ramblers’ Footpath Secretary Alan Marlow (left) presents Paul Howland, Andover Ramblers’ Member (centre) with a commendation, in the presence of David Clark, Andover Ramblers’ Footpath Secretary