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There is legislation (the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) that introduces a 2026 ‘cut-off date’ beyond which any public footpaths or bridleways that have existed since before 1949, but which are not recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement, will be automatically extinguished.

There have been national discussions about whether to a) introduce the legislation as planned b) postpone it (by 5 years) or c) abandon it altogether, with no conclusion.

For many years there has been discussions and recommendations (e.g. by a national stakeholder working group) of regulations being introduced to protect any pre-1949 unrecorded routes public footpaths from being extinguished in 2026, if a formal application to record the route on the Definitive Map and Statement has been made to the local authority before 2026. However, no actual regulations, proposed or otherwise, have been published and there is no guarantee that they will, or what they will contain.

Although the legislation is unclear, don’t leave it till the last moment. If you believe a footpath or bridleway should be on the Definitive Map, apply for a Definitive Map Process Order before it is too late.

For information about Definitive Maps, and about how to apply for a Definitive Map Process Order, visit the West Berkshire Council page here. 

For a map of lost paths in and around Berkshire, visit the Ramblers website here.