Prevent Loss of Village Footpaths
Cononley residents have less than 10 years to apply to save any rights of way that existed
before 1949 but do not appear on official maps.
This is because of new right to roam legislation which will affect thousands of footpaths, alleys and bridleways across the UK which may be lost forever - within a decade.
Dr Phil Wadey, vice-chair of the conservation body Open Spaces Society, said: “On 1 January 2026, old footpaths and bridleways that are not recorded on the council’s official Definitive Map of Rights of Way may cease to carry public rights.”
He is co-author of Rights of Way: Restoring the Record, a guide on how to collect evidence and make an application to register a right of way.
The consequences of failing to act could be far-reaching, said Dr Wadey. He raised the prospect of farmers taking down stiles, putting up fences and field gates being locked. “Urban and village alleyways were of greatest concern, with shortcuts behind houses under threat from homeowners extending their gardens, or fencing off paths that have existed for decades.”
Local historian David Gulliver said: “After the 1949 Act Cononley Parish Council was
asked to identify all local rights of way. Although many field footpaths were already marked on large scale Ordnance Survey maps, a difficulty arose over some ancient lanes used to reach
“For example, Shady Lane emerged as a right of way throughout its length, however, Moorfoot Lane was not included. “Perhaps in the future a few planned additions, agreed with local land owners, would connect up the network, create new circular walks and relieve pressure on over used paths.”