43 people, representing 10 Ramblers Groups, attended our first Members' Day event at Cropwell Bishop on 7th May. The weather became increasingly warm as we walked the 5.5 miles at a very leisurely pace, spotting the clues along the way for the competition that had been set. Prizes of OS Explorer Maps and a compass plus other items were awarded after the end of the walk. During the walk, we visited the ruin of St. Mary's Church before arriving at Colston Bassett where we had our lunch. Many of the walkers also took the chance to look around the Parish Church of St. John the Divine. The return walk was across a couple of fields before walking along the towpath of the disused Grantham Canal. Upon returning to Cropwell Bishop, we called in at the Cropwell Bishop Creamery Shop where we were treated to samples of all the cheeses and the opportunity to buy a few of them. Finally, it was time to cross the road to the Chequers Inn to award prizes, socialise, quench our thirsts and, for some, to have a very enjoyable meal. Photos from the day plus lots of other news can be seen on our Facebook page – www.facebook.com/nottsarearamblers
The new regulations due out now give Ramblers the power to force the ‘Order Making Authority‘ (that is who you apply) to process the claim quickly. The days of a claim sitting unprocessed for 10 or 20 years will be gone. So now is the time to get to work on filling the gaps in the Right of Way network.
This explains all the types of valid evidence and lists web sources for this information.
You need to do 2 things in making a claim
1. Show the way existed – Need to show there was one consistent line for a significant number of years.
2. Show that the public had the right to use the route. This doesn’t mean that the landowner had to give their permission, it is only necessary to show that that public use was so open that the landowner must have known about and accepted the use.
Essential equipment – time & patience, a camera to record documentary evidence and notebook and this is essential, access to a computer to check records on line and prepare your submission.
Start by finding possible candidate routes
Access 19th OS Maps online at the National Library of Scotland(NLS) – you can save these for later reference and they have a brilliant tool that lets you move the cursor on an OS 6”to mile map and see the curser on a Google satellite image on the right so you can plot the lost route on a modern map- very useful when all the features have changed. Footpaths shown on these maps are not necessarily public ones because the maps carry a disclaimer about rights of way. It does give you a starting point.
Search for missing roads on old (antique) County maps and local maps online – don’t ignore the maps for sale online. Gain there is no guarantee these roads are public but you can see where they were and start looking for evidence.
If you find a candidate decide if the route would enhance the network – if it doesn’t put it to one side and concentrate on the ones that bring the biggest improvement and would be most useful. Do an area with a number of routes close together because whilst researching one path, evidence for another can turn up.
Identify possible records
Then use the National Archives database to search for relevant documents. Don’t just put one search term in - think of different ways of asking the same question. Start by looking for maps, then Quarter Sessions Court Records, and work you way through the IPROW list for the place, parish or Estate, e.g ‘Rufford maps’. The National Archives database also covers the County Archives/Record Offices, but if it references a University Collection you will need to search those separately. Also be aware that many Estate papers are in collections in a different part of the country, it depends where the main seat of the Estate was. The National Archive website helps hugely with this. Estate papers can be brilliant – my best two ‘lost way’ claims have Estate maps with the label ‘public road’ on the claimed routes.
Local studies sections of libraries in the vicinity should be checked for old walking or cycling guides – how did the experts who wrote these regard the route?
Going to the Archives
Once you have a list of documents to look at contact the archives and tell them you are coming – they will often let you pre-order documents once you have a readers card – details on how to get on will be on the archive website.
Documentary evidence needs carefully photographing. Clear images are needed of the whole page, the part of the page you want, supporting pages, the plate showing the author and date, and for maps the key. Photograph everything to save you having to go back. In the excitement of finding evidence don’t forget to photograph the catalogue reference code to identify what the piece of evidence is. It is really annoying to get home only to realise that you can’t identify what is on the photos. Archives don’t usually allow use of a flash so look for a well-lit spot and check clarity as you take the photos.
Also sometimes, you need to look for what is not there and record it is not there.
Preparing your evidence
Under the new regulations it will be essential to present your evidence as a proper report, which will need:-
1.Intoduction – show the claim on a map with key points identified and labelled, pictures of the route at key points, local history, what you what to achieve, i.e a route or designation change.
2. The Evidence Index identifying every piece of evidence, e.g
A5a 1835 Sanderson map of the route, A5b, 1835 Sanderson map key, A5c 1835 Sanderson Plate.
Group the evidence into types, A Public maps, B OS maps, C Railway Plans, D Estate Plans etc.
If you have an archive reference code for a piece of evidence add this.
3. The Evidence – copies in order each with its identification code and title.
4. Your Statement of Case – addressing the “You need to do 2 things” above.
Have you remembered to present the legal case for there being a right of way and secondly where that right of way is.
The most important part comes next.
Don’t make the claim until you have had a good think about whether there is enough evidence and whether you have presented it in a clear and unambiguous way. Some claims will succeed with just a few pages of evidence because the evidence has the necessary legal weight. Other claims can fail despite large amounts of evidence because a key legal necessity has been ignored. Just because a way is shown on a map doesn’t mean it is a Public Right of Way. Use the IPROW Guide to go through your evidence with a critical eye. If in doubt check PINS decisions(Planning Inspectorate), which are available online, for similar cases. If you can’t improve the evidence make the claim and let the system decide the outcome.
Take the claim in and ask for a receipt so you can prove when it was handed over – you may have to go to the Magistrates Court to get an order to process the claim.
Check any tricky legal points with Ramblers Central Office experts (Eugene Suggett). We have a case where it is claimed that the Inclosure Award for a neighbouring parish extinguished an ancient road. The Inclosure Award does state that their part of the road was extinguished, but also states that the Award only applies to that parish. (Example of showing something isn’t there – legal permission to extinguish the road in a neighbouring parish)
Finally be flexible about what you want and try and work with the landowners
The railway viaduct over the River Trent at Torksey has been closed for decades, cutting off the residents of Torksey (Lincs) from their neighbours on the Nottinghamshire side of the river. The only ways into Nottinghamshire involved travel of around 10 miles in either direction to the nearest crossing points. But that all changed on Friday 22nd April when the viaduct reopened, allowing people to walk from one side to the other. A moment celebrated by the handing over of an oak sapling by children from a local Notts school to children from the school at Torksey.
Walkers approaching the viaduct along the Trent Valley Way
The Ramblers had been invited to go along to the opening ceremony and were represented by the Chair, Vice-chair and Area Secretary. Rod and Jenny took along some leaflets and display materials and were able to talk to quite a lot of the people that turned out, including several Ramblers members from Gainsborough Group and members from the Lincolnshire Area Groups. The Notts Guided Walks Partnership was also invited but was unable to display its materials due to their representatives getting stuck on a muddy lane on the wrong side of the river. The list of dignitaries was impressive with parish, district and county councillors present along with senior members of Sustrans and the various funding agencies and bodies.
The journey to getting the viaduct reopened started around 20 years ago when Sustrans took ownership of the derelict structure. Since then, they have steadfastly worked to put the funding and agreements in place to get the viaduct made safe and a new decking put down that can accommodate cyclists and walkers. At the moment, the viaduct is open only to walkers, as the paths on the Nottinghamshire side are footpaths that are accessed from the viaduct by a staggered set of steps and, therefore, not available to cyclists: though a bold Sustrans spokesperson did announce to the crowd that opening the viaduct was the first step of a plan to get all footpaths on the Nottinghamshire side converted to cycleways in order to link up with other cycle routes.
The day was bright and sunny, encouraging many of the local people to come along to the opening and swell the numbers to around 200 people. After the speeches and the unveiling of a plaque on the viaduct wall came the handing over of the oak tree sapling. Then, the assembled throng were invited by a spokesperson to go on a led walk of 4Km on the Nottinghamshire side of the River Trent, which included a short section of the Trent Valley Way, to, “see for yourselves some of the paths that we want to improve in phase two of this project”. (I'll leave the reader to determine how you “improve” a pleasant walk along a grassed embankment).
Around 40 people undertook the walk which was led by the Ramblers Area Chair and back-marked by a member of Sustrans. On the way around, there was a chance to talk and many of the walkers said that it was the first time that they had walked on that side of the River. They all seemed delighted at the chance to have a pleasant stroll alongside the river; though some were distinctly nervous at the idea that the paths might be covered with tarmac. At the end of the walk, I asked the Sustrans back-marker whether he'd enjoyed the walk. He said that he had and that he was surprised by the conversations he had been having with people as he'd walked along. He had, apparently, learned one or two bits of gossip about people in Torksey as well as a little of the history. It's surprising what you can find out when life moves a little slower!
The day ended at the local Hume Arms, where there was another speech and the cutting of a cake to mark the occasion.