Reference material

A volunteer repainting one of our cast metal signs

Maintaining signs is a small part of the huge amount of work we do

The ‘Get involved’ pages in our website include a wide range of information which we hope you'll find useful. Even more resources and information can be found in the Volunteer Zone.

Immediately below are three links to government webpages, which may also be useful. Following any of them will open that information in a new browser window.

OpenRights of way circular (1/09) (DEFRA)
OpenAuthorising structures (gaps, gates & stiles) on rights of way (DEFRA)
OpenThe Removal of Obstructions from Highways (Notices etc.) (England) Regulations 2004 (Statutory Instrument)

Our Volunteers Handbook

The complete Handbook comprises five distinct sections plus an all-important glossary of terms. It's a reference manual for Footpath Inspectors and other volunteers. For anything not covered in it, please ask your Area Officer.

1. Guidelines for All Volunteers


2. Guidelines for Assessors and Area Officers


3. Guidelines for Inspectors


4. Footpath Inspections


5. Legislative guide


Glossary of Terms


OS grid references

The easy way

Path Checker app logo With our FREE Path Checker app you can easily report a fault and its Ordnance Survey grid reference directly to us. Please choose a button to visit the site where you can download it to your device.
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How to provide a grid reference

OS grid references can be written in a number of ways. For our purposes we prefer two letters and eight digits (numbers), e.g., SJ97646956 (or SJ 9764 6956). Incidentally, that's the summit of Shutlingsloe, near Macclesfield.

Find a grid reference on a map

You might find it useful to look at the Ordnance Survey's guide on their website here (opens a new window).

Convert a grid reference

At times you may have a grid reference which doesn't have letters at the beginning and consists only of numbers. Depending on the format of the grid reference you've got, please see the following method. Numeric-only grid references have two sets of up to six numbers each with a comma between the sets, e.g., 397642,369567. The method is the same regardless of the number of digits. What you need to do is:
  1. Separate out the first digit of each set of numbers and the comma. So from 397642,369567 you get 3,3 and 9764269567
  2. Use the first digits to look up the corresponding two letters in this list: 3,2=SO | 3,3=SJ | 3,4=SD | 4,2=SP | 4,3=SK | 4,4=SE
  3. Then put those two letters in front of the other digits to give, in this case, SJ9764269567.
  4. A ten-digit reference like this is a 1 metre grid reference and we prefer a 10m reference. To get a 10m reference, simply delete the fifth and tenth digit. So SJ9764269567 becomes SJ97646956.
If you've read these instructions for the first time and think they're complicated, we promise you that after a little practice it soon becomes easy.

Latitude and longitude

Occasionally you might come across a location specified in degrees of latitude and longitude. You can easily convert it to a grid reference using the Ordnance Survey's Coordinate transformation tool in their website here (opens a new window).

Maps are perhaps our most vital tool. We've listed and described some online maps here.