Country Living April 2020 – “Rural Issues” “Join the fight for our Footpaths”
I was saddened to read your article in Country Living because it was the most ill-informed article it has been my misfortune to read!
Relying on unsupported alleged facts is grossly misleading to readers.
In the circumstances and relying on my 30 years’ investigative research experience re alleged Public Rights of Way it would be helpful if you would take a little time to digest the following, which a little research on your part would have revealed the following FACTS:
1. Historically “rights” to use private land were based on “privilege”and “custom” A favour “vested in” a “limited section of the public such as the inhabitants of the parish” [Halsbury’s statutes] not highways for the general public, that is, the “public at large.” Such privileges and customs can be and were abandoned by parishioners when no longer needed. There is no such thing as a “lost way”. It is a myth conjured up by those who wish to walk or roam anywhere in the land, even through private gardens and farm yards.
2. Ordinance Survey maps have carried a Disclaimer [along the bottom of their maps] against being “evidence” of a right of way since 1887, therefore it stands to reason anyone “forensically” relying on an old O.S. map to PROVE the “historic” existence of a “public” right of way [O.S. map researched apparently from the National Library of Scotland, is seriously misinformed if not grossly inexperienced.
3. In the matter of “historic documents”, as long ago as 1905 the Courts decided that O.S. and Tithe maps were ONLY “admissible as evidence of a physical feature” NOT LEGAL STATUS, given the maps were not prepared for the purpose of establishing or identifying public highways or public rights of way. Furthermore, in the matter of a Tithe map, that it was only prepared for the purpose of identifying land which was Subject to Tithe.
4. Following a path on a map NOT PREPARED FOR THE PURPOSE and NOT RECORDED on the Definitive Map is unequivocally trespass, on private land.PERMISSION has to be granted by the landowner before an Inspector chairing a case at Public Inquiry is allowed to venture forth.But it appears from your article that you and other walkers believed they could simply follow a 3 mile line on an old “historic” O.S. map because it was BELIEVED to be “public” and therefore available even though it was not recorded on the Definitive Map.
In short, you were using it and simply presuming it was public given the legal status of the 3 mile route had not been investigated or Declared “public”. In view of the law, how sad is that?
5. Claiming that the Local Authorities were “meant to create” “all rights of way” in 1949 is a misnomer so incredibly inaccurate that it defies all belief….
Local Authorities had no power or authority to “create” a public right of way unless it was by way of a proper legal procedure.
The legal requirement of the NPACA 1949 was to record all FPs and Bridleways which were “reasonably alleged to exist.”
That means “already exist”, not to be “created” without any power or authority to do so, which in many cases actually occurred.