Ramblers map reveals 125 miles of rights of way paths in Flintshire that could be lost forever
A mass ‘citizen geography’ project has unearthed 125 miles of footpaths in Flintshire that have disappeared from official maps.
The Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way campaign has revealed that nearly 50,000 of rights of way path – enough to stretch around the world nearly twice – missing from the definitive map in Wales and England.
In the most comprehensive survey of lost rights of way to date, thousands of volunteers searched 154,000 one-kilometre squares using the Ramblers’ bespoke online mapping site and found that there are nearly five times as many missing paths as the initial estimate of 10,000 miles.
From January 2026, it will no longer be possible to add paths to the definitive map based on historic evidence, meaning the right to access them will not be protected for the future.
The walking charity said: “These paths are a vital part of our heritage, describing how people have travelled over the centuries within their communities and beyond, yet if they are not claimed for inclusion on the definitive map (the legal record of rights of way) by January 2026, we risk losing them forever.”
“At a time when more than ever, we recognise the importance of being able to easily access green space and connect with nature, it is vital that we create better walking routes to enable everyone to explore the countryside and our towns and cities on foot.” Ramblers’ said.
Once legally recorded as rights of way, paths are added to the definitive map which protects them under the law for people to use forever.
Around 7,500 miles of right of way path has been found to be missing from the the definitive map in Wales.
In Flintshire volunteers found 125 miles of path missing, the bulk of which appear to be around the Halkyn area – as marked in blue on map below.
Jack Cornish, the Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way programme manager, said:
“The amazing response we had from the public to help us search for missing rights of way just goes to show what an important place our path network holds in the hearts of so many of us.”
“By getting the most useful of these paths back on the map, we will not only be saving a little bit of our history, we’ll also be able to improve the existing network, creating new and better walking routes, enabling more of us to more easily enjoy the outdoors.”
“Recent research by YouGov for the Ramblers has shown that being able to walk to and access nature and green space close to where we live is more important to us than ever following the COVID-19 lockdown, with 60% saying that more or better walking routes near where they live would improve their quality of life.”
Jack added: “As we increasingly recognise the huge benefits of being able to easily get outdoors and access nature, saving these paths takes on an even greater urgency.”
“With just five years to go, it’s more important than ever to protect this precious asset for generations to come.”
“We are asking the public to help us to save these paths and our Crowdfunder has been generously kickstarted by Cotswold Outdoor, with a contribution of £10,000.”
If successfully claimed the missing paths will have the potential to increase the path network in England and Wales by up to a third.
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