A Peak and Northern Footpaths Society sign on the Pennine Way in Longdendale

A Peak and Northern Footpaths Society sign on the Pennine Way in Longdendale

A leading campaigner praised members of a 120-year-old footpath group which, she said, is the hammer of the North.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, addressed a meeting of the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society in Stockport at the weekend.

The footpath society is the oldest surviving regional footpath society in the UK and works to keep open rights of way by inspecting routes and working with authorities. It also puts up its own signs to help walkers head in the right direction.

Ms Ashbrook, who leads Britain’s oldest national conservation body, spoke at the PNFS half-yearly meeting. She said: “We are indebted to the PNFS and its 94 path inspectors for defending the public-path network across northern England.

“The inspectors report problems and the society is prepared to get tough with councils which do not carry out their statutory duties on public paths, and to threaten legal action if necessary.

“But green spaces too are under threat,” she said. She called on members of the society to consider applying to register land as a town or village green where they have suitable evidence.

“Where land has been used by local people for informal recreation for 20 years, without being challenged or interrupted, those people can apply to register the land as a green,” Ms Ashbrook said. “Once the land is registered, local people have rights of recreation there and the land is protected from development.

“However, if the land is already threatened with development it is now too late to apply to register it. The Growth and Infrastructure Act, a developers’ charter which was passed last year, put paid to that.

“The trick is to get in ahead of the developers, and I strongly urge you to consider now what land in your area might be capable of being registered and to waste no time in applying for registration.”

The Stockport-based Peak & Northern Footpaths Society can trace its roots back to the Manchester Association for the Preservation of Ancient Public Footpaths of 1826.

Some articles the site thinks might be related:

  1. Campaigners urge public to register more village greens
  2. ‘Feisty’ footpath champion Pat Wilson dies, aged 97
  3. Outdoor campaigners’ alarm at plans for footpath team cuts
  4. South Downs land sell-off ‘must be halted’
  5. Access campaigners win battle with hospital trust