Unless favourite footpaths and walks are included in the new 2026 definitive map they might be lost forever.
When a path is on the definitive map – the official record of the public’s rights of way in an area – this not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it is much easier to protect and maintain.
However, any path which came into existence before 1949 and that has not been requested for inclusion in the map by 1 January 2026, will be lost for public use.
The Barnet Society, working with the local Ramblers Association group, is looking to identify footpaths that may need to be recorded to protect their status. This is where we need your help, and anyone else living in Barnet.
Act now or we could lose these footpaths forever!
The London Borough of Barnet has a Definitive Map of Rights of Way. It is available to view at their offices. However, it does not include all the urban footpaths in Barnet.
Right of way status gives paths greater protection so that they cannot lightly be stopped up for developments or security reasons. Many historic urban routes such as Lovers Walk in Finchley or the Walks in East Finchley are not recorded as rights of way.
The presence of "Footpath" signposts on the ground does not necessarily mean the route is recorded by Barnet as a right of way.
Those routes which are recorded on the definitive map are shown on the OS 1:25,000 map marked with green dashes, so this is an easy way to see which are and are not recorded.
Don’t be deceived by some of the main recreational footpaths that exist locally
Don’t be deceived by some of the main recreational footpaths that exist locally.
A large part of the Dollis Valley Green Walk is not a public right of way, nor is the path from Hadley Green to Cockfosters.
Many of the footpaths included the Barnet Society’s Rambles Round Barnet, Volumes 1 and 2, might also not be designated rights of way and need to be protected.
Routes can be added to the definitive map either using historical evidence or by providing witnesses who have used the route for 20 years.
There is now a deadline of 31st December 2025 for claims using historical evidence, so it makes sense to get going on this while it can still be easily done.
WALKING GUIDE FOR CHRISTMAS
A Christmas present for family and friends that will almost certainly be welcome is a copy of ‘Rambles Round Barnet’ Volume 2, writes Owen Jones.
This guide has lots of advice on which buses you can take, or where you can park, before setting out on one of the walks.
It includes some that are just a few miles from the town but which you may not have realised are there to be explored.
There are several updates about the routes on the Barnet Society website.
Just click on the ‘Rambles Round Barnet Updates’ in the News section.
Friends who are not keen on venturing out into the wilds of South Hertfordshire may still enjoy perusing the booklet.
It can be interesting to read about the local countryside, look through the 14 colour photos and study the maps.
Some of the walks are no more than 2 miles in total. Others are up to 9 miles and are designed for the hardy souls among our members.
The booklet can be purchased from either Waterstones in the Spires or the Barnet Museum.
The Museum is currently open Tues, Wed, Thurs 2.30-4.30; Sat 10.30-4.00, Sun 2.30-4.30.