Hugh Craddock, one of our case officers, is speaking today (7 March) at a congress* in Barcelona on paths in rural areas.

Hugh will explain the importance of rural ways in England and Wales for informal recreation.  There are probably more than 200,000 kms of rural ways in England: footpaths, bridleway, carriageways, cycle paths and byways.

Walkers near Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion

Unique to England and Wales, these routes are highways in law, just like any road, and the public has the legal right to use them.  They are public routes crossing private land; the arteries of the countryside.  Hugh will tell the delegates of the duties of local authorities to record and maintain the paths and to keep them open, and the work of volunteers to clear them.

Says Hugh: ‘We are extremely fortunate that our paths have protection in law and that we have legal rights to use and enjoy them.  While other nations have paths of various types none has anything quite like our network of legal routes.  The history of our nation is written in our public path system, and now these routes are widely used for recreation.  It is good to be able to tell the delegates about our rights of way, and to learn about the opportunities and problems faced by the other nations represented there.’

*         The Congreso Internacional de Caminos y Carreteras Locales is hosted by Barcelona Provincial Council held from 5–7 March in Barcelona.