GCC Public Rights of Way team has notified parish councils of a change in legislation which means that certain unrecorded rights of way might shortly be lost.

“You might be aware of historic tracks and ways within your parish which are perhaps no longer used on a daily basis but are considered to be part of your parish’s history. You should know that if these ways are not currently shown on the official records of rights of way, they could be permanently closed off in 2026 by the owner of the land over which they cross. It is important therefore that these routes are protected now.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 introduced a cut-off date for adding historic paths to the Definitive Map (which is the legal record of rights of way). This means certain routes which existed before 1949 and which aren’t recorded on the Definitive Map by 1st January 2026 may be extinguished.”

Follow the link to the current definitive map for the public rights of way network for Gloucestershire www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/prow

In order to protect any currently unrecorded routes, they will need to be identified and claimed before the 1 January 2026 cut-off. These unrecorded routes exist in law; many exist on the ground and are in current use, while others could provide useful additional routes and links to the existing path network.

Update May 22: The deadline for registering historic paths is to be abolished in England, the government has confirmed.

The news has been welcomed by the Ramblers, who said the move would give more time to save the most important and useful paths.

A statement from DEFRA said: ‘We will repeal the 2026 cut-off date for recording historic rights of way, as set out in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to allow more time for paths to be identified and added to the public rights of way network.’

A document summarising the process for recording a right of way (what is known as a Definitive Map Modification Order) and also an information sheet suggesting documentary sources that can be accessed online.

If you know of any unrecorded rights of way please contact –

Highway Records Team, Gloucestershire County Council, Shire Hall, Gloucester GL1 2TH or email the address below

If you require assistance in how to research a route or make an application to record a path, then please do not hesitate to contact modificationorders@gloucestershire.gov.uk.

Link to maps – online sources for documentary evidence OnlineSources_Feb2021-final

Link to the Definitive Map Information Sheet DefMap&2026InfoSheet_Feb2021_final