Author Topic: Hi just joined and hoping to find ways of saving our footpaths  (Read 594 times)

mad dug

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Hi all , Just signed up for this forum as having moved into the Essex /Suffolk border area and I have began to use the "public footpath " network almost daily.
One of my first welcomes to the village came in the form of an angry man  telling me in no uncertain terms I was not welcome to walk here as he had a pheasant bait station nearby and I was not on a public footpath.
I now daily walk using the council definitive footpath map and find that many of the landowners are not playing the game and are ploughing over footpaths,planting over footpaths , removing signage from their land, allowing hedges to overgrow footpaths ... the list is endless.

Having recently heard that we were in danger of losing many thousand of miles of footpaths not registered on the "Definitive" map if they are not recorded by 2026 I have been looking at old maps on a great website run by the national library of Scotland. I was shocked within a few minutes of looking that I found 3 local footpaths that were on the 1943 os map which are not on the definitive map (one of them being the one I had been told to leave by the "angry man" )
I feel footpaths are extremely important. They show the history of the land and should be saved for future generations to enjoy.We must fight to have them registered and the landowners should ensure  footpaths on their land are kept open for the public to walk over unhindered.
I hope I gain some advice and knowledge from fellow walkers here and hope that there are others here that are fighting to keep the public footpath open for the people to use.
There is a saying once a highway always a highway I hope it is true .
I apologise for my rant maybe I'm becoming a grumpy old man  ::)


barewirewalker

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Welcome to the forum, you may have just joined a very small and select group. It would seem that the majority of walkers are indifferent to the points you have raised yet they are all very pertinent to the situation our access network is currently in.

Only 5 years away from 2026 and the fact that Natural England estimated 15 years ago that there is probably 10% historical ways still to could be added to the DM. As we approach that date the public outcry that ought to be on everyone's lips, if the level of the corruption of the Definitive Map was properly recognized and would force local authorities to take action, is unlikely to happen.

Hope you stay around, 15 years or so ago I coined the phrase 'The Corruption of the Definitive Map' on the old Rambler's Forum, it was about the last topic of any relevance to walking, it ran to 20 pages with over 10,000 hits, yet they closed it down in favour of going all twitterish on Facebook for whatever good that does them.

There is a lot to be learnt from Lostways both about the history of our countryside, how our access to the countryside could develop and even possibly how to blow the whistle on the landowners as the dirtiest players of the last millennium and still fouling in the new.
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

pleb

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Am no expert, but if you think there are PROWs that need registering, surely the local Ramblers will be interested?
We're all doomed! DOOOMED I SAY!

gunwharfman

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Welcome from Portsmouth.

I go out to the countryside most days of the week and I too try to hike/run on the paths that people seem to forget, or don't know they are there. I ran two of these paths this morning.

WhitstableDave

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Hi mad dug.

I expect many here will be familiar with the problems you've mentioned.

First though... just because a path is shown on an old OS map doesn't mean it's still a public right of way. There's a footpath near to where I live that was officially closed well over a year ago, but it's still shown as a PRoW on the current OS map (although it's been removed from the definitive map). The fingerpost remained pointing into the field for a year before it was eventually removed (the closure notice had long disappeared, so anyone out walking might well have followed the closed path for half-a-mile across farmland before having to retrace their steps!). 

In my experience things can sometimes be done - sometimes, but not often! I use the Kent County Council website to report issues. Mostly, the problems are logged and nothing is done. However, I did report several issues regarding a local farm and I was amazed to find everything was corrected just a few days later - three new posts with waymarkers and a new fingerpost (I'd suspected the signs had gone missing so as not to encourage walkers to cross the farm).

Facing ploughed up fields (that should have been restored) and finding no clear path through crops can both be annoying. Basically, my approach is to use gps to follow the PRoW so that only the farmer is in the wrong - I hate trampling crops, but I will when necessary.

ninthace

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Apparently there are 3108 miles of rights of way here in Devon.  I have not run into any problems so far apart from the odd overgrown path that I have reported and one temporarily closed bridge, which was well signed some distance before the closure to enable us to divert round the obstacle. 
The council have published a mobile friendly app of ROWs which is linked from this page  https://www.devon.gov.uk/prow/interactive-map/ . They also publish a list of closed paths https://www.devon.gov.uk/prow/change-rights-of-way/current-temporary-closures-of-paths/
How this compares with other counties I cannot say but it seems fairly proactive.  Locally they have spent a fair bit replacing worn bridges over streams and one other piece of good news, the diversion of the SWCP near Braunton, where the seawall collapsed, has become permanent and the tidally flooded fields have been sold to the Devon Wildlife Trust.
Solvitur Ambulando

Andies

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Welcome mad dug.
Contact SCC ROW Department using their online reporting system. It sometimes gets results but equally it can take years.
Also Suffolk Ramblers will be interested and via their group websites you should be able to identify the relevant area footpath officer who can be emailed.
Given my struggles as a fellow Suffolk resident with Suffolk ROW Department I also tend to contact the relevant parish council, many of whom tend to have a footpath officer. In my experience the ROW Department tend to respond better to issues reported by the parish council rather than the individual, albeit that could just be that they don't like me.
I have previously been accused by the ROW Department of making too many reports about issues with ROW notwithstanding they have almost always agreed with the reports I have made. Consequently I generally don't bother reporting much now as you could sometimes spend longer doing this than you did on the walk.
With regard to lostways there are many in Suffolk. I am currently working on some but it isn't an easy task and time is limited. Good luck  O0

richardh1905

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Welcome to the forum Mad Dug - very few problems here in the South Lakes, I have to say, the area is riddled with paths, many permissive, and there is a lot of access land too. That being said, since moving down from Scotland a few months ago, I am a bit surprised by the number of Private signs dotted around. Must be far worse down in the South East.

rural roamer

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I am also in Suffolk and have had problems with footpaths either being blocked or not reinstated.  A couple of times I put a report in to the ROW officer and got an acknowledgement but they never came back to me with any action taken so I assume they didnít take any.  Iím afraid I donít bother reporting it now as I think it is a waste of time.


Ones I can think of off the top of my head;
Path near Framlingham completely blocked by rapeseed and no way around the edge
Path near Snape that had crops growing and no path across the field
Stour and Orwell walk near Freston, also completely blocked by rapeseed

Davidedgarjones

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Suggest you join the Ramblers - your local group is likely to be involved in FP issues and will welcome your contribution.
Dave

mad dug

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Thanks to  you all for the welcome and taking the time to reply, I much appreciate all your advice .I am overwhelmed that so many of you have taken the time to reply .
@ Andies -I did discover how to report issues to the local council Prow (which is Essex) last week and  I have made quite a few reports in fact I fear Like you I will be accused of making too many reports  :) but to me that means there are too many landowners not following the rules.
I wish you all the success with the lost footpath reports ,let us know how you get on. I believe the Ramblers association are going to have a reporting system online this month for people to report lost footpaths. I am looking forward to seeing it.

@whitstable Dave - I am trying to find out from the council if one of the lost footpaths have been extinguished , they say they will have to investigate further so I await the result.I am glad you managed to get some of your reports of issues sorted.

@ BWW- thanks for your welcome it sounds like you have hit the nail on the head about the D.M.

@Richardh- like you I have moved down from the land where there is no public footpaths but where you are free to roam (well almost).I find it oppressive for walkers down here and it takes a lot of pre route planning to make sure you don't tread off the barely marked footpaths lest an angry farmer appears with his shotgun.

@Pleb and Davidedgar -I have been considering joining the ramblers assoc.I agree they do good work but £49 per year is a bit too much for me at the moment and as I don't fancy walking with large groups of people I dont think I could justify the expense.

@ Ninth - I had a look at your link to the Devon council .quite a slick mapping page loads so much faster than the  essex prow page

@ Rural Roamer - I feel your pain regarding crops over the footpath , the favourite here is farmers ploughing the footpath to extinction  >:( I think I need Gunwharfman to come to essex and run over some of the ploughed footpaths a few times to reinstate them.

ninthace

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Mad Dug, thanks for the come back.  I'm not sure if we hold the record for path reinstatement here in Devon but I watched a farmer at the edge of our village harrow a maize field that the 2 Moors Way crosses.  He worked up to the part where the path crosses so it was the last thing he did and his last passes were to reinstate the line of path.  To my mind, that is how it should be.
Solvitur Ambulando

WhitstableDave

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Just a few more thoughts on public rights of way in south-east counties such as Suffolk and Essex - and Kent, where I live.  :)

Some quick searches showed that we are especially well provided for in terms of miles of PRoWs per square mile of county. For example, Kent has about 3 miles of PRoW per square mile, Suffolk has about 2.4 miles, and Essex about 2.6 miles. Compare that with Cumbria at about 1.8 miles and Devon at 1.2 miles and it's quite clear that we in our part of the Rest of England are pretty fortunate...

Except for the fact that our county councils have to maintain many more miles of footpaths, bridleways and byways than those in the less well-endowed counties.

In Kent (and presumably in all counties) there's a strict priority system in place. Kent's national trail (not counting the England Coast Path), the North Downs Way, has top priority and any problem will be dealt with quickly. Other types of PRoW have a lower priority and are given Status A if they're deemed important or relatively necessary, or Status B if they're not deemed as such. Problems at the bottom of the hierarchy of paths with Status B will (in my experience) never be sorted.

So I'm afraid that counties like ours, those with the most Ancient woodland, farms and orchards, will have more public footpaths than counties with vast areas of access land, heather and bare, rocky hills, but our councils' PRoW departments are inevitably more stretched to keep them in good order.  ;)

Davidedgarjones

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The point about the Ramblers is that they will have footpaths officers with regular channels of communication with the local authorities.
In my patch (the High Peak) we have Derbyshire and Greater Manchester footpaths committees, Annual adult membership is £36.60. It's excellent value for money in that it enables you to walk with any group across the country via the Walks Finder system.

Dave

richardh1905

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This may be of interest, mad dug:

https://www.ramblers.org.uk/dontloseyourway