Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

About us

No way!

The PNFS is made up of people like you with a common passion for walking. Whether it's a walk over fells and hills or using an urban path to get to the shops, whether we're taking our children to school or exercising our dogs, walking is part of our lives. We value our rights, embodied in the law, to walk the rich network of footpaths our countryside and towns have to offer.

Like you we know the frustration of finding the way blocked or overgrown, of having someone tell us we shouldn't be on their land, of misleading notices that have no legal status. PNFS members have been dealing with problems like these throughout our long and distinguished history.

It is a simple fact that, despite the protection in law, footpaths would be diverted or extinguished to the detriment of the public without the constant monitoring and vigilance that the PNFS and other charitable organisations provide.

Our history

Centenary plaque at St George's House, Peter Street,
Manchester [streetview]

The Peak & Northern Footpaths Society can trace its roots through time. We evolved from "The Manchester Association for the Preservation of Ancient Public Footpaths" of 1826.

The society was formed officially at a meeting held at 7pm on Thursday 16th August 1894 in the Young Men's Christian Association Hall, Peter Street, Manchester.

It is the oldest surviving regional footpath society in the UK.

More history

What we do

We have a team of about ninety volunteer inspectors who regularly walk the footpaths in the area that they are responsible for. They report any faults and obstructions to the responsible local authority and and work with them to reach a satisfactory result. Although we prefer negotiation to confrontation, we can and do take court action to protect the footpath network for all walkers.

The law requires that local authorities consult us when they consider diverting or closing a right of way. We take local members' views into account when we give our response. Our opinions are valued highly by the authorities we work with, but in cases where we cannot agree with them, or cannot reach a satisfactory conclusion, we are prepared to go to court – and we do.

As a society we believe that protecting path is about more than chasing up problems. That’s why we put money into improving the path network with work such as planting signposts and building bridges. We have now planted over four hundred signposts and thirty bridges across our area, and we maintain them in perpetuity.

How we work

Taylor House

We are based at Taylor House in Stockport and are fortunate to own the premises. At these premises our teams of volunteers carry out all the central functions such as assessing proposals, administration, recording footpath faults, signposts and the running of the society. We also keep the society’s valuable archive of footpath-related matters. We use the garage as a workshop for the repair of existing and the preparation of new signposts ready for planting.

To cover such a large area we have inspectors who are responsible for their specific area, usually organised by a number of parishes. They make an invaluable contribution to the work of the society by reporting on any changes, faults, obstructions and condition of PNFS signposts. By getting out and about they not only enjoy the walking but build up an essential understanding of the local issues and needs.


Additionally there are Area Officers who have delegated powers to work for and on behalf of the society in the field. An area officer covers a defined area, for example a whole county such as Staffordshire, or part of a county such as the Derbyshire Dales District.

Area officers

Our governance

We are governed in accordance with our constitution by our officers and trustees.

Officers & Trustees Constitution & Policies

What you can do

What you can do is give us your support! By supporting you would be taking a big step towards protecting and improving the footpath network. You can give us support by becoming a member, volunteering your time, or making a donation.

Join or Renew Donate Volunteer
Page title:About us
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