Don't Lose Your Way deadline set to be abolished

The UK government has today (16th Feb) announced that the 2026 deadline to register historic paths is to be abolished in England.

The DEFRA statement said: We will repeal the 2026 cut-off date for recording historic rights of way, as set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to allow more time for paths to be identified and added to the public rights of way network.

This great news for walkers, which follows years of campaigning by the Ramblers, will help ensure more people can connect with nature for generations to come. It gives us more time save the most important and useful paths, ensuring they’re added back to the map and protected for the future. 

The deadline of January 2026 meant that any paths not applied for by that date would no longer be able to be added to maps based on historical evidence and risked being lost forever.

"After years of campaigning by the Ramblers, the announcement by the government that they will abolish the 2026 deadline for registering historic paths is a cause for celebration. This welcome decision means that, with the help of our brilliant volunteers, we’ll be able to make sure the most important and useful paths are added back to the map and protected for future generations. And we no longer have the pressure of an arbitrary deadline in either England or Wales that put so many of our rights of way at risk."
Jack Cornish, Head of paths for the Ramblers

Don’t Lose Your Way campaign

In 2020, thousands of supporters joined our Don’t Lose Your Way campaign to search for lost paths, discovering over 49,000 miles of potential unrecorded rights of way in England and Wales.

Since then, we’ve been working tirelessly with a dedicated team of volunteers to prioritise the paths that would be the most useful additions to the definitive map. We have also been developing resources to support volunteers in researching the historic evidence needed and making applications to local authorities.

The removal of the 2026 deadline in England, which had already been announced for Wales back in 2018, gives us more time save the most important and useful paths, ensuring they’re added back to the map and protected for future generations. It will also help ease the pressure on under-resourced local authorities, who need to process all the claims for missing rights of way.

Help us research lost paths

Whilst the deadline is set to be abolished, we still need to save thousands of miles of lost paths. Sign up as a volunteer and get involved in researching and apply for lost paths

You can find out more about the campaign, and view the map of lost paths, on our website.


Rodney Whittaker


Nothing about another part of the announcement? Defra also it will expedite the right for landowners to apply for path changes, and get the necessary statutory instruments through parliament before the summer recess. This has downside potential for the path network and could result in major extra work for local footpath secretaries.

Gerry Hutchinson


The removal of the deadline sounds beneficial where additional work needs to be done but does it not also imply that there is no date by which these paths will be officially recognised either?

Trevor Littlewood


We've seen a number of local authority notices - just two or three - announcing the...
Notice of landowner deposit under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and section 15(A) of the Commons Act 2006

Wording in legalese follows that heading and there's an accompanying map.

Not understanding what was implied I contacted Durham CC and was told that if the landowner's application succeeded it would prevent the registering of any further rights of way over the area concerned.

Can that be correct? If so, there could be an avalanche of such applications across the country seeking to prevent new paths and bridleways being registered especially now that there's no longer to be a time limit on proving rights of way.

Trevor Littlewood


We've seen a number of local authority notices - just two or three - announcing the...
Notice of landowner deposit under section 31(6) of the Highways Act 1980 and section 15(A) of the Commons Act 2006

Wording in legalese follows that heading and there's an accompanying map.

Not understanding what was implied I contacted Durham CC and was told that if the landowner's application succeeded it would prevent the registering of any further rights of way over the area concerned.

Can that be correct? If so, there could be an avalanche of such applications across the country seeking to prevent new paths and bridleways being registered especially now that there's no longer to be a time limit on proving rights of way.

Charlie Bigley


This report seems to me to be unbalanced. While the proposal to abolish the deadline is to be welcomed, there is a high price to be paid. The parallel proposals to make it easier for landowners to have Right of Ways set aside have not been spelled out in detail, and have the potential to be a devastating blow to our campaigning.

Andrew Hayes


Land-owner deposits as I understand refer to new rights of way and not to historic rights of way that can be proven to exist before 1949. If the evidence is found that a right of way existed, and was not registered with the local Authority under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act1949, there is every possibility that the implementation and registering of that right of way would take place.

Helen Elias


We were following footpaths in Pembrokeshire and found that there were no signposts, no styles (we had to climb over locked gates) and a section which should have been a track was inaccessible and completely overgrown so we had to divert and go across other fields and through hedges! The footpaths were clearly marked on our up to date OS map.What is the procedure for reporting this and preserving the footpath?