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Definitive Map and Lost Ways

The 1976 Definitive Map and Statement is a two part document held by the Highway Authority for rights of way. The map shows all the recorded rights of way in a county and the statement describes the route. The Highways Authority prepares and keeps the document and for Cumbria this is Cumbria County Council. The map and statement are available for public inspection; libraries have copies of the sheets in their area.

The Definitive Map held by Cumbria County Council is the most up to date record we have for our public rights of way and it changes to reflect new routes, a change in status or deletion of a route or the recognition of a lost way. As alterations are made on a regular basis most of the copies are out of date. A digitised map is in preparation and the updates will be available to all. Meanwhile Cumbria County Council's web site can be consulted.

It was said "once a highway always a highway" so if evidence could be presented to show a route once existed, either in the form of documentation or users who had used a route, then a route could be claimed and if proved added to the definitive map.

Like many bridleways societies and user groups we were very concerned about the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and in particular the removal of the right to claim a route using documentary evidence after the year 2026. Nationally "Discovering Lost Ways" attempted to tackle the mammoth task of identifying and claiming lost ways only to admit the task was too huge. Something local bridleway groups had already known.

Our own "Lost Ways" project has already prepared and submitted some claims and we have more in the pipeline. We have held workshops at Carlisle Archive Centre to help people gather historical evidence. We are building links with other interested groups like BHS and the Ramblers.

We are always keen to hear from anyone interested in researching a route and we may well have information in our archives that could help you.

The society has a number of maps in our archives and you can view the list here.

For more information on the maps or to view a map please contact us.