Protecting our priceless network of footpaths


Steve Brown meets the volunteers who make sure the county’s rights of way remain just that!

DURING the coronavirus lockdown, many of us were walking in our local countryside, sometimes for the first time, to take our daily permitted exercise. As a result, the network of footpaths surrounding our towns and villages has seen levels of usage possibly far greater than ever before and many have come to realise what a valuable resource they are. England’s footpath network is unique yet vulnerable. There are laws protecting public rights of way, but these rights have often been threatened by unscrupulous landowners and developers, by obstructions both unwitting and deliberate and sometimes by Mother Nature herself, so there is a need to be vigilant in their care and protection. We are fortunate in Derbyshire that the county falls within the area watched over by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society (PNFS), the oldest surviving such society in the UK, and this is the story of how they have worked, and continue to work tirelessly, to protect the footpath heritage of Derbyshire and beyond…