Author Topic: Is there one single national site showing open access land, permissive paths ?  (Read 1683 times)

Agentorange

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I ask because in the course of my walking over the last year or so I have rapidly become aware that as the saying has it " the map is not the territory "

I walk mostly in Kent, and mostly in West Kent at that. I'm especially fond of the area around Shoreham and Otford. But in planning my walks I soon realised that the OS maps are only half the story. They may show PROW and SOME public access land, but there's an awful lot they don't. For example if you look at the OS map just west of Shoreham there's a wooded are called Meenfield woods. On an OS map or Bing maps only part at the south west end is shown as open access. Yet if you walk up there you will find it's owned by Sevenoaks council and they give you permission to roam freely over the entire area with the usual provisos about keeping dogs on leads if there is livestock and so on. In the spring it's lovely bluebell wood and I've stomped around there many a time.

Equally to the east of Shoreham there's a lovely secluded area known as Magpie Bottom, a lot of which is Woodland trust land. Again not all of it is shown on the OS maps, Bing maps or even the Kent county council ROW map.

Now some of these places are on the DEFRA  website and of course there are various sites like the woodland trust, Sevenoaks council etc that have their own maps. The thing is though you almost have to know they are there in  order to go looking for them ( if that makes sense ) I'm sure there are thousands of other examples

All of which in a  rather rambling way brings me back to my original question. is there a sort of master site that shows all these places. A sort of Wikiwalks as it were ?

Can you imagine how great it would be if there were !

Mel

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I don’t think there is AgentOrange.  The country is pocketed with heathland, commoners grazing pastures, woodland trails, riverside trails and locally permissive paths.  All unmarked on the map but visible, signed and accessible when you get there. 
 
To look at one of my favourite short local walks on a map would have you thinking I’m recreating the Kinder Mass Trespass, but I’m not.  Not that I’d care if I was mindst, but that’s a different story.
 
It may be just me but I quite enjoy “happening upon” these little pockets of unrecognised adventure on my walks.  I even do a walk to see what’s at the end of a seemingly “dead end” PRoW.  Most times it leads to nothing but sometimes it leads to a hidden patch of heathland.  Near me there’s a substantial lake that isn’t on the map despite a PRoW going right past it and signs round it saying no right of way (but there’s still a trail round it if you care to walk round the back a ways which leads to a lovely private memorial).  I’m guessing a relative of the owner of the land.
 
Something else I think; memories from my childhood.  We didn’t care (or know) about access land or PRoWs.  We just played out, in the woodland, in the farmers fields, played ball games on random patches of scrubby grass in the middle of nowhere. Revisiting these childhood places recently had me realising that just because there isn’t a path on a map doesn’t mean we can’t walk there.
 
Granted, it doesn’t help with planning a walk when poring over a map of an unfamiliar place but to do a walk “just to see what’s there” certainly keeps the sense of adventure alive  :)



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barewirewalker

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My best guess is negative.

There are those more up to date in the realities of access than I, but as far as I can recall most of the permissive access negotiated by English Nature or Natural England or whatever it was was bought by subsidies that only had 5 or 7 years duration and these may have been cut short by the GOV.UK's spending cuts.

There is no fundamental understanding that the integrity of way should be recognized in freehold. So if part of a way becomes impassable the total way is threatened. Could anyone safely publish a mix of rights of way, permissive ways and other voluntary access without falling foul of someone  :-[ ? ?

As long as landowners think that public access is a threat to their authority within a locality rather than a resource for the welfare of the local community, then such a valuable assets as this is probably wishful thinking, unless it is created by others, who have the imagination to see how the terrain of our countryside could be accessed. (and that would be a new take on the Kinder Mass Trespass >:D )
BWW
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Agentorange

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It may be just me but I quite enjoy “happening upon” these little pockets of unrecognised adventure on my walks.  I even do a walk to see what’s at the end of a seemingly “dead end” PRoW.   

Me too. It was looking at the mapping site Plotaroute that got me thinking about all this. I was planning a walk around Magpie Bottom/Romney street ( both near Shoreham ) and it showed a footpath running north off a PROW coming out at Magpie Bottom. Now the OS map showed a path, but it wasn't a PROW. I zoomed down using google maps to where the path joined the lane and sure enough there was a kissing gate clearly visible leading out onto the lane. So I thought what the hell I'll try it - if there's no access I've wasted a few minutes and I'll retrace my steps. When I got there it turned out it was owned by the Woodland trust and they had a little information placard about how they were managing it as chalk downland and as an SSSI they gave permission to access it and  there were  2 or 3 kissing gates leading across the land down through the fields  to the lane.

There's a similar situation with Farningham woods ( north of Shoreham )  on the OS map you can see a couple of PROW. When you get there it's a nature reserve/SSSI and you can wander around. limited access at some times as it's also a working wood with active treefelling and coppicing, but most of the time you can just roam freely - they've even stuck a bench in a couple of places to have a breather  O0

All of which got me wondering how much else is out there.

Agentorange

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. Could anyone safely publish a mix of rights of way, permissive ways and other voluntary access without falling foul of someone  :-[ ? ?



I think so, as long as there was some kind of disclaimer saying accurate at time of construction, walkers must confirm access before using, provided purely for informational purposes and should not be construed as granting permission blah blah blah etc etc.

make sure people have to click on a button acknowledging this before proceeding onto the site and you might well be allright.

ninthace

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The OS mapping website is the best you are likely to get. It includes definitive rights of way, permissive paths and CROWA open access land. It also includes features such as nature reserves which are likely to be open access.  Of course, it is only as good as the last survey and is subject to GIGO so there will be errors.
A degree of interpretive reading is required and tying with other sources such as published routes on ViewRanger, OS mapping and other sites to get a better picture.
Solvitur Ambulando

rambling oldie

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To further complicate matters, properly marked open access land may not actually be open.  I wanted to recce a possible rambling route in NE Hants, just south of Alresford.  I intended to pass through Cheriton Wood which shows the light green and faint pinkish boundary of open access land with apparently a number of broad tracks/rides through it.  No PROW though and when I got there all the entrances I tried were fenced off.  Subsequent trawling through the Hants Countryside Service site eventually revealed that sporting use of the land for a large part of the year gives the owner the right to close it off.  Very frustrating![/font]

Mel

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... Now the OS map showed a path, but it wasn't a PROW. I zoomed down using google maps to where the path joined the lane and sure enough there was a kissing gate clearly visible leading out onto the lane. ...


Ahh, yes, those little grey dotty-dash lines.  They are sneaky little things aren't they?!  ;D  I always factor those in if they are on a map.  Just because they aren't green (or orangey brown) doesn't mean they're not fair game.  Same for farm tracks.  The green PRoWs just show paths that *should* be maintained and passable.  Those little grey paths just show there is *something* on the ground (or was at the time of printing) but don't have to be legally maintained.  Always worth an explore.


I'm using that theory (along with aerial and street view in google) to work out a feasible walk around the lower prong of Ladybower reservoir.  On the surface, it doesn't look do-able but digging a little deeper....  O0
No expense spared in pursuit of a bargain ;)
https://snailspacewalks.blogspot.co.uk/

barewirewalker

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Sometimes those little grey dotty-dash lines part of something more historical, perhaps the National Library of Scotland can throw some light on it.
Just north of Magpie Bottom on the slope of the escarpment, there is a long narrow field in the 1880's, now part of the wood. I wonder if a small stand of Scot's Pine have survived on the top edge, because it looks suspiciously like a 'slang', field used as accommodation land on Drover's routes.

So there is a nice juicy lostway SW 2 NE from Highfield, not that the area is noticeably short of RoWs, though the terrain might soak up a bit more public access.
We came across some land owned by the Woodland Trust this summer and very pleasant it was, in mid Wales. There were wild flower seed mixtures sown along the pathsides, which had greatly increased the butterfly population in numbers and varieties. We met a mother with her children along the way, she told us her husband worked for the woodland trust and had bought the estate. Though I think the WT had bought up the residue of an old estate after the agriculturally viable holdings had been sold off. This made it very noticeable where the land management changed.





BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

Agentorange

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The OS mapping website is the best you are likely to get. It includes definitive rights of way, permissive paths and CROWA open access land. It also includes features such as nature reserves which are likely to be open access.  Of course, it is only as good as the last survey and is subject to GIGO so there will be errors.
A degree of interpretive reading is required and tying with other sources such as published routes on ViewRanger, OS mapping and other sites to get a better picture.

I've been thinking about signing up for OS mapping for some time now. I suspect I'll cave in after Christmas and do so.

GIGO ?

Agentorange

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So there is a nice juicy lostway SW 2 NE from Highfield, not that the area is noticeably short of RoWs, though the terrain might soak up a bit more public access.


We came across some land owned by the Woodland Trust this summer and very pleasant it was, in mid Wales.

Interesting looking at the Scottish map the track NE of Magpie Bottom is clearly labelled FP ( for footpath one assumes ) and comes out onto the lane by the cottages. The modern PROW dog legs south and hits the lane further to the east>

I've actually been quite impressed by the efforts of the Woodland Trust . they have a fair few bits of land around Shoreham/Otford. Including one which has a sign which more or less says 'beware of Adders ! '

I found this video about biodiversity at Magpie Bottom posted by Kent Wildlife  trust on Youtube, only about 5 minutes but quite interesting.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU4EaCmErqw

vghikers

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Quote
GIGO ?

Assuming this is the same derivation, it's a very old computer tech expression:- Garbage In - Garbage Out. I.e, the result is only as good as the original input. Another acronym, sigh.

The original question:- it might be feasible for a small locality, but a general GB map would be a colossal undertaking. As others have said, the latest OS mapping combined with other sources like satellite imagery, Geograph pictures, walk reports is the best strategy.




vghikers

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To add:- another couple of cases have been mentioned before here.
One is a public footpath that stops abruptly in its tracks for no apparent reason, sometimes close to a public road with only e.g a private garden or fence in between.
Another is isolated pockets of access land with no public rights of way to get to them.

Agentorange

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The original question:- it might be feasible for a small locality, but a general GB map would be a colossal undertaking. As others have said, the latest OS mapping combined with other sources like satellite imagery, Geograph pictures, walk reports is the best strategy.

I agree, it would be a colossal undertaking. Maybe if there was  a team of people doing the central map/database and you had regional or county teams compiling and feeding the information upwards....

ninthace

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TBH most of the information you are looking for is on the individual county planning maps, eg designated green spaces, PROW and so on. The OS  maps show all the information recorded in the post title, i.e. permissive paths, Open Access Land.  They also include nature reserves, tourist sites and so on.  To produce another map, repeating this information just to have a national map seems fairly nugatory. If you want to include other types of free access land you would have your work cut out agreeing definitions and recording it.  Moreover, it would have no legal standing, in that such access is permissive and liable to change.


The other issue would be that such a map would have to be maintained to have any value.


Given this, what is the problem that you think can only be addressed by a national  map?
Solvitur Ambulando