“1 January 2026 is the cut-off date for adding historic paths to what is known as the definitive map: the official record of the public’s rights of way in an area.
When a path is on this map, it not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it is much easier to protect and maintain. However, any path which came into existence before 1949 and that has not been requested to be on the map by 2026 will be lost – forever!
We’ve been working with the government to make sure that the process for registering paths on the definitive map is as easy as it can be so that as many paths as possible can be recorded before it is too late.
Since 1998, when moves to close the definitive maps to historic paths were first seriously proposed, many of you have been working hard to ensure that historic paths are recorded before it is too late. If you think there may be paths in your area which aren’t on the definitive map – take action now using the Ramblers toolkit.
Why do paths need to be on the map?
If a path’s not on the definitive map it can be closed off or built on with no chance to get it back. You can find out more about definitive maps and rights of way law in our Go Walking section.
Why do paths have to be recorded by 2026?
The creation of the definitive map was never meant to be open- ended and various governments over the years since its creation in 1948 have tried to complete and close the process for recording older paths. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) officially introduced the cut-off date for adding historic paths to definitive maps. This measure came about largely in order to ensure that landowners have a clear idea of whether land they owned has a right of way on it. Opposition from the Ramblers and others ensured that the cut -off date was set as 2026 rather than 2016 as was originally proposed.
What has the Ramblers done to ensure paths are not lost?
For an account of Ramblers’ involvement in this process please see our Historic Paths and Definitive Maps timeline.”
Don’t Lose Your Way – Make sure your favourite historic path is on the definitive map by 2026 – or you might lose it.