A stock of 76 signs which was to have marked a long-distance trail has been stolen before the notices were even installed.

The waymarkers would have been put up on the 172-mile Chiltern Way circular walk, but went missing when a trailer was stolen. The signs, worth £2,000, will only be replaced if insurers pay out for the theft.

The markers, made of heavy-duty plastic, belonged to the Chiltern Society, a charity. The society’s team leader Peter Harden said it could not afford replacements unless an insurance claim succeeds. He fears the signs could be just dumped because they have no scrap value.

The Chiltern Way was established by the society in 2000 and an extra loop was added in 2003. It is based on an earlier, unofficial Chiltern Hundred route, and meanders through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.