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Historic Routes and Past Pathways

Historic Routes and Past Pathways

Lead Partner

New Forest National Park Authority

What is it about?

Historic Routes and Past Pathways is working with volunteers, partner organisations and local communities to investigate existing rights of way and identify those with significant historical importance within the New Forest National Park.

From the existing rights of way network, five new trails will be established. These trails will be formed of existing rights of way, where possible with; significant history, high connectivity, easy access and a local story to tell.

Through innovative, imaginative and appropriate interpretation the aims are to promote a greater understanding of the heritage and importance of these rights of way to local communities and users, along with their continued benefit as sustainable travel links and green corridors of the future.

Communities will be encouraged to become involved with the heritage of their local rights of way, supporting people to feel a greater connection with the past.

The main aims will be to:

  • Establish five new trails made up of existing rights of way
  • Promote and enhance the new trails through appropriate means, including leaflets, interpretation, community events and guided walks
  • Train volunteers with the necessary skills needed to assist with research, promotion, public engagement and interpretation activities.

Since Historic Routes and Past Pathways started in November 2016, volunteers have been researching historical maps to investigate the history behind the rights of way in their allocated parishes. This initial research is now drawing to a close with research undertaken on all 37 New Forest parishes. An initial sift will result in retaining those routes with the most potential to be part of a new trail. These will then receive a walkover survey and further, ‘more in depth’ historical research, with the end goal of proposing up to 10 new trails using rights of way from the existing network.

Volunteering and training

Volunteers can take part in a variety of activities, including:

  • Historical desk based and online research
  • Historic maps and document research and gathering
  • Field work
  • Rights of way survey and assessment
  • Conducting oral histories
  • Identifying historic landscape features
  • Practical rights of way work e.g. vegetation clearance, route improvement
  • Promotional activities e.g. public events, social media
  • Heritage interpretation of the new trails e.g. guided walks, education sessions

Visit the training and volunteering page for information on specific roles within the Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme.


Through working with parish councils and local community groups the Historic Routes and Past Pathways team will aim to promote a sense of ownership and pride in the new trails. It is hoped that this will enable the local communities to play a substantial role in promoting and preserving the trails in the future.

Contact details

Gareth Owen, Project Officer – Historic Routes and Past Pathways project, New Forest National Park Authority

Tel: 01590 646652 Mobile: 07880 383988 email:


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