Don’t Lose Your Way reveals over 49,000 miles of lost historic paths - Ramblers

Find.Map.Save - Don't lose your way (Ramblers)

The Ramblers' Don't Lose Your Way campaign has found 49,138 miles of rights of way missing from the definitive map in England and Wales, which it is now racing to save by 2026.

49,138 miles of historic paths – enough to stretch around the world nearly twice – are missing from official maps in England and Wales, the Ramblers reveals today. These paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries within their communities and beyond, yet if they are not claimed for inclusion on the definitive map (the legal record of rights of way) by January 2026, we risk losing them forever. At a time when more than ever, we recognise the importance of being able to easily access green space and connect with nature, it is vital that we create better walking routes to enable everyone to explore the countryside and our towns and cities on foot.

This follows a mass ‘citizen geography’ project launched in February this year – part of the Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way campaign – which saw thousands of volunteers join forces to find all these lost rights of way.

Surveying England and Wales

In the most comprehensive survey of lost rights of way to date, thousands of volunteers searched 154,000 one-kilometre squares using the Ramblers’ bespoke online mapping site and found that there are nearly five times as many missing paths as the initial estimate of 10,000 miles. However, after the Government cut-off date of January 2026, it will no longer be possible to add paths to the definitive map based on historic evidence, meaning our right to access them will not be protected for the future. More than a fifth of the lost paths found are in the South West of England (over 9,000 miles) with Devon topping the list of counties with the most missing rights of way, while the West Midlands had the highest density of lost paths to potentially be added to the map. (Please see below.)

Jack Cornish, the Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, said: “The amazing response we had from the public to help us search for missing rights of way just goes to show what an important place our path network holds in the hearts of so many of us. By getting the most useful of these paths back on the map, we will not only be saving a little bit of our history, we’ll also be able to improve the existing network, creating new and better walking routes, enabling more of us to more easily enjoy the outdoors.”

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