The first of January 2026 is arguably the most significant date regarding our rights of access to the countryside for over 70 years. This is a cut off date after which historical Rights of Way, in existence before 1949 and not recorded on the Definitive Map, will be lost for ever.
This is a provision of the 2000 CROW Act, and the timeline of recent work to address this issue is not encouraging as much time has been lost in delays, false starts, poor organisation and the further delay of Government to implement the 2015 Deregulation Act, which will simplify the process of recording these Public Right of Ways.
The Ramblers, the British Horse Society and the Open Spaces Society are all concerned that many of our historical routes will be lost – forever. You can read what these organisation have to say by using these links:
Cornwall is a particular concern and in 2013 The Ramblers identified Cornwall as the Council with most path problem reports awaiting resolution – by a country mile!
In Cornwall the BHS and the Ramblers are working together to identify, record and submit Definitive Map Modification Orders so that these route are not lost.
The BHS has developed a website known as Project 2026, where these historic Rights of Way are recorded, a research record created and direct access to a significant number of online resources: these provide the legal evidence required so Definitive Map Modification Orders may be submitted.
WCFPS has no specific 2026 project. But the above organisations all require volunteers! A range of skills and knowledge is required; and everyone can make a contribution. If you wish to become involved please contact a member of the WCFPS Rights of Way Team or contact the organisation directly.