Lost & Forgotten Rights of Way – 2026 deadline


2nd May 2019

Disused and forgotten historic footpaths may be lost forever unless officially recorded.

Up until 1949, the public had to go through the courts to prove that a path was a right of way. That changed with the passing of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, which made it necessary for surveying authorities (county councils and unitary authorities) to draw up and maintain a ‘definitive map and statement’ of the rights of way in their area. However, many of these rights of way were not recorded.

In 2000, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act was introduced in England and Wales. Section 53 of the Act give a deadline for historical routes to be recorded on the definitive map. The Act provides for a cut-off date of 1 Jan 2026 for all claims to a rights of way based on historical evidence to be submitted to local authorities for the rights of way to be included in the ‘definitive’ map.

This means that that many disused & forgotten paths will legally be lost if they are not formally recorded as a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway.

More details of how to get involved in reclaiming lost rights of way can be found at: