Pathwatch has been retired - here's how to report problems on public paths

What is replacing Pathwatch and how to continue reporting problems 

Your reports continue to be a key part of opening the way for all and are absolutely vital to supporting and rectifying problems on our paths, so please continue reporting what you see when you’re out walking. The best way to do this will be directly through the local highway authority.  
Most of the time, walkers know which county or borough they are in. Sometimes if walking close to a border or away from home, we might not know exactly which council is responsible. We’ve created a new custom Google map for walkers to use if they are not sure where or how to report a problem on the path network. We’re as committed as ever to protecting and improving Britain’s well-loved paths, tracks and trails. 


How to use the new custom Google map 

The new custom Google map shows all highway authorities in England and Wales as well as information on reporting access problems in Scotland. 

google map


Using the custom Google map on a phone or tablet 

If you are out and about and find a problem, open the map on your phone or tablet. It might open in the Google Maps app or on a browser, depending on your device preferences. Allow the map to access your location through your device’s built-in GPS and pinpoint exactly where you are.  

Once it’s found you, click on the map and a pop up will tell you which highway authority you are in and where to report a problem.  

Many highway authority systems work best from a PC or laptop so you may want to save the link or location details for when you get home.  


Using the custom Google map on a PC, laptop or Mac computer 

Simply open the map and navigate around to find where the problem was.  

You can search UK addresses, postcodes and places names by clicking on the maginifying glass icon. If you have the grid reference, use Grid Reference Finder to find the postcode or nearest village name.  


Why did Pathwatch close?

The Ramblers launched the Big Pathwatch in 2015 to get a snapshot of the public path network at the time. We asked the public to submit features – good and bad – on the paths they walked. This was a tremendous success and we expanded Pathwatch to help the public to report problems to us that we could forward to the responsible highway authority. 
This worked well in some places, but in many areas, we have found that reports through Pathwatch have not been accepted by the highway authority. This problem has become more pronounced as the technology used by highway authorities has advanced. We also found that many local Ramblers representatives did not find the reports they received through Pathwatch to be helpful. 
In reviewing the future of Pathwatch, we reflected on its purpose. Pathwatch should make it easier for walkers to report problems, and the public should have a reasonable expectation that the report will be accepted by the authority with the power to solve that problem. We considered how we could update Pathwatch so that it would be more compatible with highway authority systems, and we also spoke to other organisations that run systems similar to Pathwatch. 
Updating Pathwatch to make it compatible with the many systems used by highway authorities would be a major investment for the Ramblers and we considered whether this was a good use of our funds. We thought about the benefit of updating and promoting Pathwatch over advising the public to report directly to the highway authority and decided that, on balance, it would not be a good use of our funds. 

walkers in a leafy path in the forest

Problems on public paths

We’re committed to removing barriers to help everyone get out walking. Learn how to deal with any problems you encounter on your walk.


Claiming unrecorded public rights of way

Unrecorded paths are vulnerable to development and unresolved problems. It is important they are claimed and get the protection they are entitled to.

blocked path barbed wire

Getting obstructions removed from paths

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

A waymark showing public footpath ahead with rolling hills in the background.

7 actions you can take to resolve issues on public rights of way

How to act if the council is not responding to your report of an issue.