When I was a kid my Dad would lead me down hidden pathways, alleyways and tracks. For him walking along the main track was never an adventure, he needed to explore, to turn left, to turn right and see where the paths took him.
Alongside this he was, and still is, an avid map reader. Now I don’t mean map reading how you think of it, as in plotting a route or seeing how to get from A to B, I mean he reads maps. As in, like you and I read a book. He is fascinated by the stories they tell, where places lead, place names and the history attached to them. Now as it happens, my Dad managed to pass this love of maps, pathways and discovery to me. I too read maps. I have even been known to take a map to bed instead of the latest bestseller. Sad but true....
.This month has seen the launch of the Don’t Lose Our Way Campaign which is seeking to map as many of the hidden and lost pathways in the UK they can. No mean feat! But why are they doing this? Because it matters, it really does. An estimated 10,000 miles of paths across England and Wales could be lost forever if they’re not added to the definitive map by 2026.
Pathways connect places, they connect people, they connect history. They engage us with the landscape and offer us freedom. On April 24th 1932 a wilful act of trespass by ramblers acted to highlight our rights to access areas of open country. This in turn led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act which enabled access to public rights of way. By getting involved with the Don’t Lose Our Way Campaign then we are adding to this powerful act and ensuring that this history is kept alive for future generations.
Okay, the serious bit done with. I have to add that the whole concept of mapping these pathways is also a great deal of fun! Its a challenge, yes, but don’t we all love a challenge? And how amazing to know that you, in whatever small or large way could be a part of this. And our role in this is about exploration, being our own adventurer for the day.
So how do you do it? The Ramblers have created this amazing tool where you can click on a square and compare historical maps next to present day ones, you can then identify lost pathways in a short time. What I then love doing is going out and seeing if I can find it on the ground. I feel like a Detective! So, not only am I engaging and getting to read maps, but I am going on my own mini adventures and exploring my local area, or even new areas.
To find out more visit Ramblers Don't Lose Your Way Campaign
Come on, join the search….
Don't Lose Your Way