- Try to use routes that are less popular. You can use ordnance survey maps to find path that you did not already know about. There are two types. The Explorer maps are to a larger scale. The Landranger maps cover a bigger area at a smaller scale. Explorer maps show rights of way in green, Landranger maps show them in red. If you need a map you can order online at https://dash4it.co.uk/
- The Explorer maps also show access land, where you can wander freely without keeping to the path. This is shown in pale yellow with brown borders. Access areas nearby include Offham Coombe, parts of Malling Down including Mount Caburn, the steep edges of the Downs above Kingston, the area to the west of Newhaven Fort, parts of Castle Hill nature reserve and land above Seaford Head golf club.
- Springtime is the time animals are out and about after winter and new plants are growing. Do stay away from animals and make sure your dog does too. Make sure that you are not crushing plants.
- Of course you must maintain social distancing but also when you step aside make sure you are not stepping on a rare plant or someone’s home. In windy conditions try to stay more than 2 metres apart.
- Only the council can close paths. If they do they must advertise them in local papers. They have not closed any paths so far. If you see a “path closed” sign or a path has been obstructed check that is on a right of way using your map. If it is on the map then report this to the council urgently at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please say where the problem is and include a photo if you can. Send a copy of your report to email@example.com. If the path is NOT on the rights of way map but has been in use for many years then it needs to be claimed as a right of way. See here
- But if a landowner puts a temporary diversion in place to avoid a house or farm buildings it would be sensible to follow it if it is safe to do so.
- Ticks are an issue at this time of year. Here is some information about what they are and how to avoid them. Leave the shorts at home!
- Stiles and gates are likely have been touched by quite a few people. Wash your hands as soon as possible.
- Learn a bit about how we got these places to walk. See below.
HOW DID WE GET ALL THESE PLACES TO WALK?
England has probably the densest network of footpaths and area of open access of any densely populated country. This is not an accident. English Law says that if the public have used a route as if they had the right for 20 years continuously, it becomes a right of way, but this has to be asserted. Many routes have been fought for over many years by two organisations, the Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society.
- The Open Spaces Society has fought for commons for around 150 years. The fact that places like Chailey and Ditchling Common are open to us today is partly down to them. More recently they provided detailed technical support for fights to make the Newhaven West Beach and land at East Chiltington into areas of common access.
- In the 1950s, when the first maps of rights of way were drawn up, members of the Ramblers walked most of the paths in England so that they could be added to the map. They and the Open Spaces Society fought for paths like the paths down both sides of the Ouse between Lewes and Newhaven, which were hotly contested by land owners at the time.
- Later they persuaded the Ordnance Survey to add rights of way to their maps so that people could find out where they could walk.
- For over 50 years the Ramblers campaigned for free access to uncultivated downland, mountains and moorland. Much of the access land on the downs is a result of this campaign.
- The organisations are constantly monitoring obstructions and proposed diversions to the system. Recently the path through Telscombe water station was reopened after having been obstructed for over 30 years. They ensured that there will be a new right of way over the jetty on the east of the Ouse at Newhaven when it is built. Obstructions at Lewes racecourse have been opposed.
- They have recently made over 30 applications to add new rights of way in our area to the rights of way map.
- They have convinced the government to take new powers to create an English coastal path. For our area one of the most useful things about this is that rights of way are not lost if the cliff beneath them falls down, they simply move back to the land behind.
If you would like to support this kind of work why not join one of the organisations or both?
You can join the Open Spaces Society at https://www.oss.org.uk/what-you-can-do/join-us/
You can join the Ramblers at https://www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/join-the-ramblers.aspx
Article dated 12/4/20