Atsome point in the near future all rights to use most routes that are not on the official map of rights of way or list of roads maintained by the county council will be lost. The owner will be able block the route (for example if they want to build houses on the site). So a group of us from the Open Spaces Society, Mid Sussex Bridleways Group, Ramblers Association and other concerned organisations have started trying to get these routes put on the official map of rights of way in Sussex. Although the 2026 deadline to add paths has been withdrawn, a new deadline is likely to be set.
Sometimes these routes have been out of use for many years and we need to do historical research. But often the routes at risk of closure have been in regular use by lots of people up to the present day. You may be surprised by many of the routes at risk. In these cases we need evidence to show that people have used the route for the at least the last 20 years as of right – without having a lease or legal agreement, or the special permission of the landowner.
Obviously it is harder to get evidence for the earlier part of this period, so if you used a route in the 1990s this is particularly important information, but we welcome evidence for any period up to the present day.
Below you will find details of the routes currently being researched. In each case you will find basic details plus and evidence form for you to print off, fill in and return to us. If more than one person in your household has used the route please print off and return a form for each person. Some of the questions may seem a bit odd. This is because we need to meet some complicated legal conditions. Please answer all the questions honestly, but it is ok to say “I can’t remember” or “I don’t know”.
Please send it to the address on the bottom of the form and you can send to that address as well if you prefer. You can also print the form, sign it, scan it and email the scan to email@example.com
ROUTES WE CURRENTLY NEED EVIDENCE FOR
Do you walk or ride the route shown in blue from Firle up to the Downs?
Every year thousands of people walk from Firle Village up to Firle Beacon and the downland ridge. Usually you walk from the village along the old coach road and then turn right to start the climb. These days a lot of people walk along an unofficial path along a field edge, shown as a thin red line on the map. But the official route is a rather narrower route through trees which then passes through Firle plantation. The right of way then heads off south east on a steep route towards Firle Beacon.
But for many years lots of people have been using an easier and more attractive route to get up to the downs which is particularly suited to walking, horse riding and cycling. It is a track which goes from A to B on the map above and then climbs gently to a gate at point C, then joins up with the South Downs Way. This is not on the official rights of way map. We want to put it on the map.
You might have joined the route at point A, or you might have joined it at point B, either having walked or ridden up the bridleway, or having used the alternative route. At the top of the downs you might have gone off towards Beddingham Hill or the other way towards Firle Beacon.
To claim the route we need people to fill in forms showing their use of the route over the last 20 years. A form is attached and you can download further forms at http://www.travelloglewes.co.uk/wp/dont-lose-your-rights-of-way/
Please fill in the form and return it to the address in the form or scan it and email to firstname.lastname@example.org We do need a signature on the form if you are scanning and emailing it.
We are making this application now because the land owner has locked one of the gates between the alternative route and the legal route and we are concerned that an attempt may be made to block off access to the whole of the wood.
If you have just found out about this route now is not a good time to use it because at the end of February it was blocked by fallen trees following the recent storms.
Download the evidence form using this link: evidence form with covering letter Firle B for a word version
For a PDF version click here
PROGRESS ON ROUTES ALREADY APPLIED FOR
This is a slow process. It can take four years for the council to make a decision and then there may be a delay of a further year if someone objects and there has to be a public enquiry. Here is an update on progress on routes in Lewes in August 2019 You can see on the web site of East Sussex County Council routes that the council are currently considering and what stage they are at.
MAKING A CLAIM FOR A RIGHT OF WAY YOURSELF
You can find out how to make a claim to add a right of way to the map here