49,000 miles in England & Wales, 3,000 miles in Devon and 500 miles in north Devon. These are the startling figures of historic paths that could be lost forever if we don’t act soon say The Ramblers, the UK’s largest walking charity who with the aid of volunteers made these findings. Government legislation has given charities and the general public until 31st December 2025 to make a claim on these historic paths or lose them forever.
The Ramblers North Devon group wants to look at the whole of the local area and return as many footpaths to Public Rights of Way as possible. To do this they need volunteers to look at the 130 parishes in North Devon & Torridge. Each volunteer will adopt a parish and look at the proposed paths, which have already been listed, and to determine the validity of each path. These is all done via the Ramblers website https://dontloseyourway.ramblers.org.uk/ Anyone who loves the countryside, walking and maps will have great fun especially when looking at areas they are familiar with.
Co-Ordinator Steve Evans says ‘During the 18 months of the Covid Pandemic access to the countryside has never been more important, but the sad fact is that the general public only has access to 93% of the land in England and Wales. Compare this with, approximately 30% of land which was common land in 1600, and it can be seen that the general public has seen their access to the countryside vastly reduced. This is a one-off opportunity to reclaim old footpaths, and we need to act quickly by collecting the historical, documentary evidence needed to build and submit applications to restore the most important paths for future generations ’.