Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

Identifying and Claiming Unrecorded Rights of Way

This article is from Signpost 59, Spring 2019

Ken Brockway writes about his experience of identifying and claiming unrecorded rights of way in Derbyshire.

At the end of a busy day the wife and I enjoy settling down in front of the i-player to watch a detective drama or during long winter evening place pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. These aids to relaxation may explain my interest in researching unrecorded ways, piecing together evidence and following leads from one document to the next.

Perhaps like me you love looking at maps. I've become addicted to the DCC online mapping portal - see https://tinyurl.com/DCC-Mapping. This, DCC claim, shows the definitive map and adopted highways so it is possible to check if a route is recorded and see if there are gaps between footpath and road. Do not assume that a route you know and use is recorded - check.

Having identified an unrecorded route I log it on the British Horse Society website DOBBIN https://tinyurl.com/Project-2026. It is also important to look on the register to check an application has not already been made, see: https://tinyurl.com/Application-Register

I've just completed an application in Matlock parish where unusually the Tithe Award apportioned the roads to the parish, offering very strong evidence for the claim. The 1910 Finance Act map supported this along with physical evidence on the ground and early maps such as Sanderson's and Ordnance Survey.

The next step was to identify landowners who need to be informed of the application. Most of the claims I'm investigating are along routes that have in the past, and may still be, roads but are unrecorded. So who owns the land becomes a little more complicated and we move to notification of adjoining landowners. However the process is much the same.

The DCC online map offers useful information for adjoining addresses which can be checked off at the District Council office by looking at the full Electoral Register. Don't be fobbed off with the shortened copy. An officer of the Council will need to stand over you to make sure you only make a hand written copy of entries. This offers occupiers but not owners but the HA may be willing to accept this.

Google or other search engines may well offer pointers. Looking at farms, having got what information you can from a site visit, try a search. They may run a B&B or similar and farmers tend to have a web presence. Again it doesn't prove ownership so the next stage is Land Registry and this costs so use it with care. See: https://tinyurl.com/who-owns-land. A mapping search is free and can offer pointers towards choosing the right field for a title search. A copy of the associated plan is another fee so I try to avoid this. If and/or when the new regulations come into force, it will become the responsibility of the HA to notify existing landowners which will be a great help, but when?

Five applications done but lots more to go.

Extract of Matlock Tithe Map 1848
(Derbys CRO ref. D2360/3/28a)
showing roads with apportionment number 2981.
Matlock tithe apportionment schedule
(Derbys CRO ref.D443/2) showing 82 acres of roads
allotted to the Parish of Matlock.
The end of Ripley FP151 at Heage.
The path across the field beyond the stile
is unrecorded although it shows on OS maps.
The next section of the path is Ripley FP121.
Do not assume the OS map is correct.
The Highway Handover schedule of 1929
shows Denby Flamstead Lane as 0.9 mile long;
the adopted highway today is just 0.7 mile.
The 0.2 mile would provide a link to other footpaths.


Next: Old Brampton's Signs

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