Walkers, riders and cyclists from Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire gathered in Henley town hall last Saturday (18 November) to learn how to research and record lost public paths. They were joined by Henley’s Mayor, Councillor Kellie Hinton, and Councillor Sarah Miller.
The Henley-based Open Spaces Society, Britain’s oldest national conservation body, and Henley-on-Thames Town Council organised the event, with experts Sarah Bucks and Phil Wadey presenting the training.
On 1 January 2026 the official map of public paths (the definitive map) is to be closed to applications for the addition of routes based on historic evidence. Even if a route has not been used, if there is historic evidence that it was once a highway and it has never been legally stopped up it should be shown on the map. Now there is less than nine years left for people to research the records and apply to the county or unitary council to add paths to the map—regardless of whether those paths are in use. Further information is here.
Says Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary of the Open Spaces Society: “It is a massive task to identify all those routes which are public highways and which must be recorded before the chance to record them is lost for ever. We need people to form groups to share the work and coordinate the effort.
‘For instance, each member of a group could take on a parish and research all the missing ways, or each member could look at a particular type of evidence such as inclosure awards or tithe maps. On Saturday, it was good to see people from the various counties making contact and talking about joint working.”
There will be further training days in other parts of the country next year. They will be advertised here