What are paths worth and who's missing out?

Our path network is a national treasure. It’s our gateway to the outdoors. Spreading out from towns, cities and villages, our paths connect us to one another, to nature and have a huge impact on our health and wellbeing.  

And now, for the very first time, new research commissioned by the Ramblers has revealed just how valuable it is. The path network adds over 3,000 healthy years of life to the nation, worth an estimated £2 billion – more than £33 for every person in England and Wales. That’s the cost of 8.5 million ambulance call outs or 10 million outpatient procedures.  

But our access to paths is not equal. There is significant imbalance between the number of paths available to the most and least deprived communities. And the health and wellbeing impact of this inequality is stark.  


Inequality of access 

Our path network has the potential to help transform Britain’s declining health and wellbeing, but right now the benefits are primarily being felt by the old, the wealthy, the healthy and the white.   

  • Residents of the wealthiest areas in England and Wales have 80% more paths in their local area than the residents of the most deprived areas. 

  • The most white-dominated areas have 144% more local paths than the most ethnically diverse. 

  • Where health is the worst, the number of paths is the lowest. 

Doubling the average length of paths in a neighbourhood would result in an additional annual 78.5 million walks in nature across England and Wales. And help harness the potential of our path network to transform Britain’s health.

We’re calling for the support needed to bring the path network to its full potential, so its benefits can be felt by all. But we are already on the ground, and we need your support. 

Every day, teams of Ramblers volunteers give up their time to make sure our paths remain open, clear and well maintained for everyone to enjoy. And, to bring paths closer to home for more people, we’ve helped open up vast swathes of the British countryside that was out of bounds, and made sure the right laws are in place to keep it that way.  

support us

Read more about the research

A family of mum and dad and two children  in a long grass field look on into the distance

Ramblers research reveals the wellbeing value of our paths

Paths hold the key to significant physical and mental health benefits. But communities that would benefit most from greater access to nature are missing out.

Report 1

Download volume 1

A surge in recent research evidences the role regular visits and exposure to nature play in individual and community wellbeing.

Report 2

Download volume 2

Public understanding of the critical role played by the infrastructure that connects people, places, and nature has developed rapidly in recent years.

An NHS GP’s perspective

Dr Jo Maher is a practicing NHS GP in North Sheffield where she has worked for over 20 years. For the past 3 years she has been a Move More GP working on the Sheffield city physical activity strategy.  Jo is also the lead health advocate to the active travel commissioner of South Yorkshire Mayoral combined authority. 


Learn more

A group of people walking across and open field of wildflowers

Where you can walk in England and Wales

Helping you understand your rights, where you’re allowed to walk, and how to find new places to explore.

Support the Ramblers 

We are Britain’s walking charity. And since 1935, we’ve been fighting for the public’s right to enjoy walking – in towns and cities, through fields and forests and along coastlines and mountaintops.  

Pioneering research like this is only one part of what we do at the Ramblers to ensure everyone can get out and go walking. We will continue breaking down barriers so more people across Britain can experience the joy of the outdoors. Help us in our fight by supporting us today.