1st January 2026 is the deadline for adding historic paths to the Definitive Map – the official record of the public’s rights of way in any particular area. When a path is on this map it not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it is much easier to protect and maintain. However, any path which came into existence before 1949 and which has not been requested to be on the map by 2026 will be lost – forever!
With just nine years remaining, efforts are being made by the Ramblers to seek out and document these routes in Berkshire (and indeed across the UK as a whole). Local walkers who know their areas and are familiar with their own localities are an obvious source of information about where these “lost paths” might be. Ramblers’ Berkshire Area is looking to build a team of people across the county to gather information needed to make claims for known, but unrecorded paths, which may otherwise be lost. As a starting point it would be good to know if you have any old maps, letters, books or photographs which show that such paths existed.
The investigations which will need to be made are likely to be of interest not only to walkers but will also appeal to those interested in local history and maps, and that is the reason we are writing to our local U3A. This will be a multi-organisational project so other groups such as the Open Spaces Society, the British Horse Society and other more local bodies like Maidenhead Heritage Centre and Maidenhead Archaeological and Historical Society are being invited to get involved as well.
Volunteers are needed to assist in many different ways to ensure no important footpaths are lost by default – to do this your help is needed for tasks like checking maps, walking paths, maybe visiting Archives to look for historical evidence or carrying out internet research.
You do not have to be a member of the Ramblers; just have a passion for ensuring we do not lose any paths in Berkshire for future generations.
Prospective volunteers may feel that they lack enough experience or free time. Don’t worry there will be guidance, training and other support available, and it’s understood that some will have less time to devote to this than others. Any assistance that can be given will be most welcome.
If you, or any of your members, are interested and can offer any time on this project, the first point of contact is Heather Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of David Bailey (U3A Member and Chairman, East Berks Ramblers.)