Written on 18/11/13 by Paul Oldham

Long Distance Paths Downgraded

As part of our programme of researching walks in the Lake District we are planning to walk all the Long Distance Paths (LDPs) in Lakeland. The obvious one is the Cumbria Way of course but we are also planning to do the Allerdale Ramble and the Cumbria Coastal Way and later possible the Cistercian Way. As part of our planning for these walks we were plotting them on our mapping software in order to upgrade our websites on the walks.

And then a weird thing happened, we noticed that on the latest tiles from OS OpenSpace online mapping these paths were no longer marked. So we asked the Ordnance Survey what was going on. Today we got this reply:

I am writing in connection with your recent enquiry regarding The Allerdale Ramble.

Our Data Investigation team have looked into your enquiry, The Allerdale Ramble has been taken off Ordnance Survey mapping as it is no longer endorsed by the local authority, Cumbria County Council. Endorsement by the local authority is one of the criteria that a recreational route must meet for it to be shown on Ordnance Survey Explorer and Landranger mapping. Cumbria County Council informed Ordnance Survey that it no longer endorsed the route in 2010, along with the Cumbria Coastal Way, Cistercian Way and Limestone Link, which have also been removed from our mapping.

So we asked Cumbria County Council why it had decided it would no longer endorse the routes and whether we still be even recommending people to consider walking these routes? They sent us a detailed reply, the key parts of which read:

What we wanted to do was to ensure the quality of experience for people wanting to walk in Cumbria.

To that end we identified all the routes marked on the OS mapping and asked the people behind the route if they would be willing to work with the County Council to ensure this experience.

Most, mainly district council hadn't any funds to support the routes so we requested them removed from the OS maps. Others such as the Cumbria Coastal Way have many permissive links, a large amount of which have now run out so it was also requested to be removed as sections are un-walkable.

The routes we still support are; the three National Trails managed in partnership with Natural England, Dales Way in partnership with the Dales Way Society, the Cumbria Way in partnership with the Ramblers and the Dales High Way in partnership with the Friends of the Dales High Way.

Other routes such as the Allerdale Ramble are still there on the ground owing to the routes following definitive footpaths but the routes are not waymarked or maintained on an annual basis like adopted routes, they are covered by our cyclic rolling programme that visits areas every six years.

So in essence then Cumbria County Council no longer regards the Allerdale Ramble, Cumbria Coastal Way, or Cistercian Way as special routes to be waymarked and they only continue to exist if they form parts of the rights of way network. So the Allerdale Ramble remains walkable as it only uses rights of way but the Cumbria Coastal Way is now problematic because in part it uses permissive paths.

On the Allerdale Ramble in Brandelhow Park beside Derwent Water

It has to be said that, judging by the paper Ordnance Survey maps we have where the Cumbria Coastal Way is still shown, the vast majority of it is on rights of way or is on beach sections where you probably have implicit access rights anyway so long as you stay below the high water mark under the Crown Estate's general permissive consent; so it seems to us it's probably still possible to do the Cumbria Coastal Way although some diversions from the original route may be necessary.

The other good news is that work on a new National Trail, the England Coast Path, is now well under way. The first section of which in Cumbria should be open late spring 2014, from Allonby to Whitehaven, with more to follow. You can more about this on the Natural England web site.

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