Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

Unoffical path diversions

This article is from Signpost, Summer 2012

The legal route of a public right of way is that shown on the definitive map produced by all highway authorities; this route should also be the one shown on OS maps. If you find that the route which you walk does not seem to be the same as that on your OS map, this could be due to a number of reasons.  The OS map could just be wrong. Or sometimes the route will have been changed legally since the definitive and OS maps were prepared, and there has not yet been time to update the maps; this is an official diversion.  Sometimes, however, the legal definitive route is blocked by vegetation or by an obstacle put there by the landowner, or the route is difficult to use because of a bad surface, and you have to take a non-definitive route to get round; this is an unofficial diversion. Legally the definitive route of a path should be usable by walkers at all times. An easy to use, minor unofficial diversion to avoid a temporary problem would be given a low priority for resolution by both the Society and the authority. However, in some cases, the authority is using the fact that walkers can get through on a non-legal route to take no action over a poorly-maintained legal route, or a landowner deliberately obstructs a definitive route because he does not like the public using it, for example if it passes through his farmyard, and he does not want to pay to have it officially diverted. In such cases the diversion itself often is not really safe and convenient for walkers. This would have a higher priority for the Society, and the authority would be pressed to take action to maintain the legal route properly, or to have the obstruction on the definitive route removed, or an official diversion made. This could involve, if necessary, serving a legal notice on the authority to make it resolve the problem. So do not think that an unofficial diversion can be ignored just because you could get where you wanted to go – report it to the Society at Taylor House (through the web site if you can), and to the relevant authority if you wish, and we will take the appropriate action. Authorities should not be able to get away with poor maintenance, or landowners to circumvent legal procedures to change the routes of public rights of way.

Rhoda Barnett

Page title:Unoffical path diversions
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