How to find lost paths

The guidance here is aimed to help you navigate and use the interactive map of the Don’t Lose Your Way platform, where you will be able to identify and mark up potential lost rights of way.

These instructions are relevant once you have selected the section of the map you will be looking at – either at random, or from browsing across an ordnance survey map.

Identification of a path does not necessarily indicate it is a public right of way – further research will be required to determine any public rights and position of path


To begin with, you can use the yellow slider to slide between the current OS map, and the historical maps. This allows you to pull the map back and forth like a curtain, allowing you to see differences between what is recorded on each map.

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You can also change between historical maps using this button. 

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What am I marking?

The first historical map you will see is the “Great Britain - OS Six Inch, 1888-1913" map. On this map, we are asking you to look out for paths which are marked historically as footpaths or bridleroads but which are missing on the current OS map. We have added in labels for these from the historical map so if you see a F.P. or B.R. marker without a corresponding right of way (marked in green) on the current OS map, this might be a lost right of way and we want you to map it!

Note that you will not see the map in a side by side view, but change between them using the yellow slider

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Please mark the length of any paths which are missing by following the dashed lines. The paths will usually connect to a road or another right of way on the current map (shown in green). 

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It is always worth looking out for rights of way (marked in green dashes/dots) which stop in the middle of nowhere – if you can see on the historical map where this path connected up with another right of way or a road please draw this as well. 

Next switch to the “Bartholomew Half Inch, 1897-1907" map by clicking the button to change map layer. On this map we are mainly looking for roads which are not shown on the current map as either rights of way or roads. It is rare to find missing roads but it's good to check! 

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On the historical map roads are shown in solid or dashed orange, or are uncoloured.  Please compare these to the current OS map were roads are shown as yellow, orange or pink and where rights of way are shown in green.  If you find an uncoloured road on the historical map which connects up at both ends to the road network and which is not marked on the current OS map please mark this on the map. Due to the differing scale of the two maps the roads might not match up exactly, but you can often see where the old road used to be on the current map. 

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How to record a potential lost right of way 

Once you think you have found a potential lost right of way: 

1 - Click/tap on the pencil icon in the top left hand corner of the screen 

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2 - Click at one end of the path 

3 - Click along the course of it; for paths which are not straight, it is good to accurately record this by clicking as many times as required to mark the curvature of the path 

4 - Once you have marked the course of the missing path, you can edit by putting your cursor along the path and “pulling” a section to completely match the course of the path. Once you have completed drawing your path, click the “End path” button  in the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Then look for more paths! 

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5 - Take time to look at the whole square; once you have looked at the initial version, click the ‘Change map layer’ icon in the top right of the screen to look at the alternative map. Repeat the same process as before, marking up any rights of way which are not recorded on the current OS map. Keep in mind that only paths drawn within your selected square will be saved so it is important to check carefully for all missing rights of way.  

6 - Once all paths have been drawn on the map, press the ‘Submit square’ tick icon  in the bottom right hand corner which will record all the paths you have identified.  

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7 - If you can’t find any lost rights of way to trace on the map, press the ‘No paths’ cross symbol  

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8 - If you would prefer to look at another square than the one selected, press the ‘Skip to next square’ icon  

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  • If you realise you have marked a route in error, you can either; undo the last path drawn,

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or press ‘Remove’ in the top left hand corner to remove all paths marked in the square so far.

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If you need to adjust a line you’ve drawn, you can click and drag any point along the purple line to adjust it. 

If you’d like to change the transparency of the lines and FP markers (this can be useful for marking things up accurately), you can click the Transparency button in the top left hand corner. 

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Top tips for identifying lost rights of way: 

  • Just because a historic right of way doesn’t look like it would be currently accessible, still record it when you’re marking up the map – it’s still useful to have a complete map of paths that didn’t make it onto the Definitive Map 

  • While only paths drawn within your selected square will be saved, it is worth looking for FP/BR labels on paths leading into your square – these may help you spot extra paths to mark up! 

  • Remember to change map layer to see if there’s anything to mark up based on the Bartholomew’s map – these will be less common, but potentially longer than footpaths on the older OS map. 

  • If a path isn’t exactly straight, remember you can click/tap multiple times to draw a path which doesn’t follow a straight line.

Don't Lose Your Way is generously supported by Ramblers Holidays Charitable Trust, players of People's Postcode Lottery and East Berkshire Ramblers

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