Monday, 26 November 2018 14:24

Ensuring historic footpaths are preserved

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Coe’s Alley is a cut-through from Wood Street to Union Street Coe’s Alley is a cut-through from Wood Street to Union Street
Efforts are underway to identify and map the many alleyways and footpaths that add so much to the local landscape and help make High Barnet such an attractive place to live.

Heading off down one of the innumerable cut-throughs or paths around the town often opens up views of an unexpected vista looking across to Totteridge Valley, the Green Belt or Hadley Green.

Given its long history as a market and coaching town, residents can make use of a rich heritage of alleyways close to the High Street.

High Barnet and other communities in the area also benefit from the proximity of an extensive network of footpaths through the surrounding countryside, including the Dollis Valley Walk, Pymmes Trail, London Loop and Capital Ring.

During the last twelve months the Barnet Society, together with the local Ramblers group and other societies, have been working to ensure that these footpaths are identified and recorded.

The importance of this work is highlighted by the fear that any path that came into existence before 1949 and is not entered into the definitive footpath map will be lost forever.

The cut-off date for adding historic paths to the official record of rights of way in a local authority area is 1 January 2026.

Frances Wilson, who has been co-ordinating the Barnet Society’s response, says the significance of this exercise should not be minimised.

“When a path is on the definitive map, it not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it’s much easier to protect and maintain.”

Representatives of the Barnet Footpaths Group have recently had a couple of meetings with Barnet Council and have contributed recommendations for the draft of the local implementation plan to encourage the development of walking links across the borough.  

When a path is on the definitive map, it not only means we have a right to walk on it, but it’s much easier to protect and maintain

A draft of the implementation plan is now available on line -- -- and comments are invited. The society will be giving its response before the consultation closes on December 9.

Once the consultation has been completed, a Rights of Way Improvement Plan will be produced, and this will be submitted to Transport for London to gain funding from money allocated by the Mayor of London for projects that support the Mayor’s transport strategy.

Barnet Council’s objective is to secure approval for a three-year programme of investment starting in the next financial year.

Frances Wilson says the next objective for the Barnet footpaths group is to produce a map of footpaths and alleyways across the borough, with particular emphasis on historic routes.

“This will enable us to identify networks of walking routes linking with work, schools and public transport that should be prioritised for development, in addition to interesting leisure routes.

“There is a possibility of getting funding for small projects on a short time timescale, even within this financial year.

“An example could be drainage and soft surfacing of the permissive path running alongside Folly Brook to Southover by the Woodside Park Club, linking to Michleham Down and Chanctonbury Way.”

Suggestions for historic ways that should be prioritised or local links that could be improved should be emailed to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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