Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, sections 53 and 56 set a cut-off date of 1 January 2026 when all footpaths and bridleways that were in existence prior to 1949, and that are not at that date on the definitive map, will be extinguished and have all public rights removed.

There are some classes of exceptions. Unfortunately, the fact that an application has been made to the county council to have a path recorded is not one of them. With the present (Jun 04) backlog standing at more than 10 years' worth of applications in Hertfordshire, the reality is that we have little time in which to get currently used paths recorded.

Figure 1 shows what could happen to a currently-used field path that existed before 1949. If it is unrecorded on 1 Jan 2026, the landowner will be able to legally shut it off, as shown in the right hand diagram.

Figure 1
Figure 1: Path pre-1949 to today (left) and 1 Jan 2026 (right)

Figure 2 shows a similar situation where a pre-1949 path passes along the back of a row of gardens. This is, of course, an incresingly common occurrence as developments push village and town edges outwards. A householder, who may or may not own the land, fences off a short piece of the path to extend his garden. Again, as a result of Section 53 of the Act, there is nothing that riders will be able to do about it.

What is the Trust doing about this problem?

Figure 2
Figure 2: Path pre-1949 to today and 1 Jan 2026
© 2004 Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust. Diagrams © 2004 Bushey and District Footpaths Association (reproduced with permission).