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 thr 'Go Walking' section of the main Ramblers website (www.ramblers.org.uk).

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 is Sussex Area doing to ensure paths are not lost?

Chris Smith - "our man of great enthusiasm" - leads the Sussex Ramblers group which involves everyone with an interest in routes, (including: Mid Sussex Bridleways Group, Open Space Society, Ramblers, South Downs Society & Trail Riders Fellowship), that have not yet obtained Definitive Map status and so are not shown on any OS Maps yet. Maybe you have walked on them thinking they had Public Right of Way status. All the efforts to record historic paths was covered in a Walk magazine article; do read this article where Chris has quite a say on taking up the challenge.

If your interest is triggered by what Chris and the Sussex team are doing; there will be a lot to learn and enjoy in the friendly Ramblers group and then you would be ready to join in, to make a difference locally. Volunteers interested and already knowledgeable in local history could find an outlet for their interests. For example, we need to understand how landowners in the 1950s reacted to local authority officers asking questions about the land usage.