Don’t lose your footpath

Historical maps show that a right of way used to cross Nooks Beach and onto the Mary Stanford before the lakes on the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve were created

In recent month Rye News has seen an increase in the number of comments from readers raising their concerns about paths and rights of way around Rye being blocked.

Last week several readers asked who had blocked the shortcut to Rye Golf Club (see footnote), which has existed for some years and links the Sustrans walking and cycling path to the River Rother and on to Camber Sands. Also this week a reader asks why a long established footpath in farmland near Leasam Lane has been blocked.

Landowners blocking paths and rights of way around Rye looks to be on the increase, at the same time as walking becomes more important and popular with residents and visitors. For those paths not yet officially identified as rights of way, one reason could be linked to an Act of Parliament passed in 2000.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act gave a 25-year deadline by which time all the ancient rights of way across England must be catalogued. Those rights of way in England not catalogued would then be lost forever (Wales and Scotland have taken a very different approach and are opening up their countryside to walkers).

Walkers in Rye should be concerned. The Ramblers estimate that 49,000 miles of paths, some very popular, could be lost forever ‘unless we come together to save them’ they say. This is why the Ramblers have launched their Don’t Lose Your Way campaign. They are asking the nation’s walkers to document their local paths and research the ancient rights of way that may have been blocked by landowners in the past.

The Ramblers are compiling a map of footpaths that have so far been identified and have hosted it on their website. Many of you will look at the map and see that a number of paths around Rye are missing so there is still much work to be done locally.

One such example is the lost right of way that links Rye to Camber Sands along the river Rother. This right of way is still listed as such on ESCC maps but has, over the years, been lost under salt marsh and will not be reinstated. The path has been partly replaced by a ‘permissive path’ that runs along the old Tramway on Rye Golf Club land – but it’s not clear how long Rye Golf Club will give their permission.

Footnote: Rye News has contacted Rye Golf Club to ask for their response to the concerns raised by our readers and to also outline their plans for the footpaths that criss-cross the golf course. At the time of writing, we have yet to receive a response but will publish it when we do.

Image Credits: Kevin McCarthy .


  1. I would like to know if there are residents who have used the path atop the flood defences along the west side of the Rother, between the Tennis Club and Scots Float Sluice? It has been barricaded these last few years with barbed wire, and there’s now a “Private” sign posted, but it is on several older maps (although not, alas, on the current OS map). The council’s footpath department says that there’s nothing to be done, and the Ramblers haven’t been especially interested, either, but it would be an excellent, off-the-road, circular route for walkers, with no more expense than the addition of a gate or a stile.

    There had been some mention of resurfacing this section of the flood defences for a new north-south bike/walking trail—any current news of that?

    • Construction of that section of the flood defences is not yet scheduled, however we’re in dialogue with the Environment Agency and Sustrans to ensure that this section becomes part of the cycling/walking network.

      • Thank you for this update.

        I have wondered about the legalities of flood defences, which must have been built with public funds, being made inaccessible to the public.

  2. Thank you for this important article. Another path that was on historical maps in the 1940s has been blocked with barbed wire and a no trespassing sign. It exists north of the Lawn Tennis Club and running to the Sluice in Playden along the river. A really beautiful path, not near any homes or businesses. It once provided a lovely circle walk from town to the sluice and back along the other side of the River Rother, or continuing to Appledore. This path would be especially useful to reopen when construction soon begins along the bank of the other side of the Rother, and that footpath is closed for two years.

  3. We own land upon which a footpath crosses. I am very much in agreement that footpaths should be kept open, they provide safe access to the countryside for walkers, something which in recent years is becoming more valuable against the stressess of modern life.

    Unfortunately as stress is reduced for some people it is raised for others by the actions of the few.

    Our section of footpath has become a dumping ground for dog waste, either raw or bagged, cigarette ends, discarded tissues and various plastic bags.

    I can understand why some landowners wish to restrict public access when they have to clear up the filth left behind.

  4. I think Lawrence and Paul are referring to the same westerly riverbank path? I did it a few years ago when using an older map that did indeed show it as a footpath. All good apart from scrambly bit where it’s now blocked off. I agree it’s really important to revive its use, especially as to make it circular from the other bank via Scots float back along the Military Road there’s a stretch with no pavement and speeding drivers.
    Also the blocked path at The Nook at rye Harbour which considerably lengthens the circuit round the nature reserve.
    And now, the blockage on the Camber cycle path preventing access to the Eastern Rother banks.
    Kevin’s article was very informative and it does seem like England’s rambling legislation is behind that of the rest of the UK.
    There are government places online to register blocked paths, some of which respond more than others, but the more we all voice our concerns through them the less such blockages can be allowed to persist.

  5. In the past two years I’ve re-walked almost every single footpath within a 5 mile radius of Rye and I have to say that apart from natural erosion, some decaying stiles and bridges plus the odd ploughed-up path, it really isn’t a bad situation at all. The vast majority of paths are open and perfectly walkable.

    There’s a short stretch in Iden that’s certainly illegally blocked (escc told me earlier this month that they won’t do anything because of funding cuts), a nasty mess on a farm south of Icklesham, a couple of dodgy bits out near Jury’s Gap. That’s it.

    The Leasam Lane blockage isn’t ideal but it also isn’t electrified and can be passed in seconds. Though I do agree with the good point that it looks discouraging. The camber path to golf course fencing is a bit of a pain but as sheep do get out onto the bike path it’s better than them being killed on the road where they’d definitely be unexpected.

    By and large the actual mapped rights of way are fine. An exciting future lies with the Don’t Lost Your Way mapping because just look at the Tillingham Valley paths we’ve lost! It’s a whole new wonderland if those can be reestablished. I’d like to know actually if Tillingham Wines would be amenable to that rediscovery around their patch because they’d become a ramblers’ dream destination immediately. Fingers crossed…

  6. Mr Booth does not appear to know that there is a small dedicated group of volunteers in Iden who have replaced or renewed all the stiles, most footpath fingerposts and way markers in Iden over the last decade. The Iden Footpath Team work with, and is recognised by ESCC in maintaining and improving those footpaths that are recorded on the Ordinance Survey Maps of the area. If Mr Booth or any other reader finds a problem with access to these Rights of Way in the Parish of Iden we would be pleased if they identify to us the location. In common with most Organisations we have been stood-down during the “Lock-down ” but hope to start our activities very soon.

    • The Iden volunteers do a grand job maintaining the stiles etc and it’s appreciated particularly by my dog! Well done

  7. I am aware of that group, you can’t walk the area and fail to see the signs. And I’m certainly not disparaging the work of that group either… Northern curve of Readers Lane, footpath blocked at both ends. A small path but a right of way marked unavailable by the council because they don’t have resources to uphold it. That’s what they told me.


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