Rights of way are the most important means of enjoying the English Countryside but many are blocked and in poor condition. In 1988 the Countryside Commission set a target of having all rights of way clearly defined and usable by the year 2000.
In August 1990 the Rights of Way Act was introduced aiming that public Rights of Way be cleared to a required standard and clearly signposted.
As custodians of village life and rural values, local people and councils in partnership are uniquely placed to decide what needs to be done to make their rights of way easy and enjoyable to use so safeguarding a continuous footpath network to prevent paths leading to dead ends.
There are Rights of Way User Liaison group meetings held by local authorities where relevant problems can be discussed with Rights of Way officers and landowners/occupiers. Yorkshire Dales National Park are already involved in monitoring rights of way in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The walking group is hoping to walk public rights of way particularly those outside the YDNP, initially in the Settle area, to note and report any obstructions and difficult or broken stiles to the North Yorkshire Highways Department.
Today's rights of way can provide clues to the existence of earlier roads for example coaching roads, greenroads, turnpikes and drovers' roads which may have been re-routed due to changing needs. NCHT would welcome members interested in helping with this task, particularly younger members where it might tie up with their own individual projects.