There are hundreds of lost ways throughout our area, which we want to save.
Lost ways are routes with public rights of way over them which were in existence before 1949 but are not currently recorded on definitive maps. 1949 was the date of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, which required surveying authorities such as county councils to produce maps defining public rights of way (PROWs) in their area. A definitive map is an authority’s official legal record of where a right of way is located.
Some historic rights of way may not have been used within living memory, because they're not evident on the ground or because they're obstructed. Some, however, are in use now and may be clearly visible on the ground (and shown on modern non-definitive maps). There are hundreds of lost ways across the PNFS region which we want to save.
Although the 1949 Act meant that definitive maps and statements gave proof of certain PROWs, these documents did not necessarily show all the PROWs in their area. Some authorities were more thorough than others in recording paths. Many PROWs were not included on the definitive maps and, although some have since been added through revisions, hundreds remain unrecorded.
The network of public rights of way is a valuable resource for everybody. If the public rights on a path are not recorded, the public often can't walk the path. Legislation can't be used to enforce removal of obstructions or maintenance of surfaces, and it's difficult to persuade developers to respect such paths. It's therefore very important that rights are recorded.
PNFS seeks to legally record, protect and defend rights of way in our geographical area. The first ‘object’ in the PNFS Constitution is “creating and preserving open spaces, public access and rights of way” – and this covers finding and recording lost ways.
We have a working group which oversees our Lost Ways project and reports regularly to the Trustees. It aims to:
If you’re interested in old maps or/and are happy to look through historical archives, please get involved in this project. The more volunteers we have, the more successful we’re likely to be.
We are the database administrator for the British Horse Society’s Project 2026 Derbyshire. This Project allows you to identify which claims are currently under consideration on a map of your highway authority. You can use it as an alternative way to document potential lost ways and we fully support the British Horse Society in their goal to claim as many unrecorded routes as possible. Dozens of routes have been identified as ‘possibles’ and some are already being claimed via the DMMO process.
Several of our Inspectors are actively using Project 2026 Derbyshire (opens a new window). If you're having difficulty using the system, Mel Bale, the administrator for the database, can be emailed for advice here.