Lost Ways: Countdown to 2026
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Lost ways and forgotten footpaths will be lost for ever if they are not claimed by the year 2026. This results from one of the most contentious provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way (‘CROW’) Act 2000 which will extinguish all historic rights of way that have not been legally recorded by 1 January 2026
Janet Davis of the Ramblers says it's been estimated that around 20,000 public rights of way are not formally recorded, and many of these were established centuries back, long before 1949 (the date which saw the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which provided for the recording of public ways on the Definitive Map). If these rights of way are not recorded by 2026 the law says they'll be extinguished forever, meaning nobody will have a right to use them. Even if the public has used an old, unrecorded right of way for centuries, and continues to use it right up to 1st January 2026, the owner of the land will still be able to turn people away on that date, or gate it off.
How many of these lost ways are in Northamptonshire?
What we are doing about it?
We are working at Northants Record Office to find these lost paths. We have already had success in the parishes of Lilford and Thorpe Achurch, but need your help to select other parishes for study.
What you can do
We need to know where to look for forgotten footpaths, which parishes to investigate:
Do you use paths, which have been used for ages, perhaps as ‘permitted paths’ but which are not on the Definitive Map - e.g. Castle Ashby?
Do you use ‘White Roads’ which have never been classified as public?
Do you know of footpaths or bridleways which terminate on a parish or county boundary – e.g. the bridleway running south from Weedon Hill which ends on a parish boundary, or the several ways which end on or near Yardley Chase?
Are there large blanks on the map - e.g. Naseby or Thornby?
Do you know of parishes which did not have a parish council or meeting in the 1950’s – e.g. Lilford and Thorpe Achurch? (The County asked parish councils to identify their footpaths in 1950: without a council the paths may not have been claimed).
If so, please let me know:
Will Lovell WEO@northantsramblers.org.uk
Further Information here
President, Bob Coles MBE, Dr Steven Hollowell and Phil Lawrence hard at work in one of the