We have published a new book, Public Paths, which is an exploration of the origins of ancient tracks, droves, bridleways and footpaths which make Britain unique. It is written by our chairman, Graham Bathe.
At a time of austerity, the opportunity to use and enjoy public paths has never been more important. Walking is the most popular form of recreation in Britain. Over 80 per cent of British people walk at least once a week. In the English countryside, walkers voluntarily spend £6 billion a year, supporting nearly a quarter of a million jobs.
Enjoyment of the countryside is dependent on the network of rights of way that spread across the landscape, relics of a time when these were the main routes for travel between villages and market towns.
These routes often have rights beyond just walking, and are also enjoyed by nine million cyclists and over one million horse riders each month. In Wales there are 28 million trips to the countryside and coast each year and in England there are 3.1 billion trips.
This lavishly-illustrated book explains the origins of rights of way and traces their history, describes the battles to establish and defend our paths, and explains how to establish a route is a public highway and how to get involved in protecting paths.
Says Graham: ‘Britain is exceptional in having well over 100,000 miles of rights of way, providing an important recreational resource for walkers, horse-riders, cyclists and other users, rarely matched in other countries.
‘I hope that people will enjoy reading about the story of our paths, and exploring the opportunities that still exist to record and protect them.’
The book is a 32-page paperback and is available from us here at a cost of £5.