Frequently asked questions

What is the Definitive Map and what does it show?

The Definitive Map and Statement are the legal record of the existence, alignment and status of public rights of way. This means that if there is any dispute, this is the document that is recognised in Court as the legal record. Ordnance Survey maps come to us to find out where the routes are. They show the routes as dashed lines on their maps, which can be bought in local bookshops, tourist information centres, and on-line. The maps are good to use when you are out enjoying the countryside. It is only worth asking to see the Definitive Map if you have a real legal query that needs to be solved.

When was the Definitive Map published?

The Definitive Map was last completely re-drafted and published in Cumbria in 1976. Since publication, various legal orders (for example, diversions) have been made to change the map. We keep a working copy of changes since 1976 on separate maps. We also keep the information electronically, and although this is not recognised as legal proof, for general searches it is up-to-date.

Where can I see the Definitive Map?

You can view the Definitive Map at the following places: 1) Countryside Mapping Team,  The Parkhouse Building, Kingmoor, Carlisle 2) Your local District / Borough / City Council Offices 3) Some larger libraries 4) The Lake District National Park Authority, Murley Moss, Kendal (for the Lake District area) and 5) The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Colvend, Grassington, for the Yorkshire Dales part of Cumbria. It helps if you telephone in advance to make sure somebody is available to show you the map.

How can I get the Definitive Map changed?

There might be other ways not yet shown on the map. It may be that we must investigate this new way and decide whether or not it should be added. Such routes can come to light either through historical evidence (looking at old records and old maps) or through user evidence (people have regularly used the way for 20 years or more). If you think the map is inaccurate or incomplete, you can apply for changes, such as the deletion, addition or diversion of a route, or a change to the status of a route. If you think you have a route where this situation applies to, please get in touch with us.

Natural England produce a booklet entitled "A guide to definitive maps and changes to public rights of way" for your information. 

Natural England web site

If I apply to make changes to the map, what happens next?

You will need to supply strong evidence to support your claim. When we receive your application for a change to the Definitive Map, we will consider the evidence and decide whether or not it is enough to start processing the claim. During the investigations, other people will have a right to object. If there are unresolved objections, then the case is sent to the Secretary of State who may call for a public inquiry. If the order is confirmed then the Definitive Map and Statement will be changed.

As a starting point the authority will process applications in date of order received. However applications will be given greater priority in accordance with our written statement of priorities.

Statement of Priorities

My planning application affects a right of way, what should I do?

If you think your planning application affects a right of way, you should contact your local Planning Officer in the first instance, as part of your application with the District / Borough / City Council. We can then work together to find a solution. Diversions are possible, either temporary while building works take place, or permanent. However, it is important to allow enough time for the legal processes to be completed - and also there is a cost involved in advertising the legal information in the newspapers.

When did County Councils start keeping a Definitive Map?

The duty to keep a Definitive Map started in 1949, and County Councils have been drawing together and looking after the records ever since.

What scale is the Definitive Map at?

The map is at a 1:10,000 scale. This means that 1cm on the map represents 100m on the ground. Or one grid square on the printed map represents 1km.