THE COUNTRYSIDE Agency is to spend 11m over 10 years to research and reinstate 20,000 historic rights of way in England.

The agency estimates that 16,000km of footpaths, bridleways and byways, many unused for hundreds of years, have been allowed to lapse.

The aim of the “Discovering Lost Ways Project” is to register every forgotten right of way before Jan 1, 2026 when, under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 any public right of way not registered on the “definitive” map will not be recognised.

Most, 83% (13,300km), are expected to be bridleways and footpaths but the remaining 17% (2700km) will be byways, open to all traffic.