Shropshire Star comment: Tragedy that historic walking routes are under threat
It is an unfolding tragedy that many of this country’s historic walking routes are under threat.
Rights of way that have been in place for centuries in some cases, are in danger of disappearing from our landscape unless they are included in a new definitive map.
Submissions for the plan need to be completed by 2026, meaning the clock is ticking for many of these paths to be preserved for future generations.
Some will no doubt look at the deadline and think there is plenty of time to protect these rights of way.
However, there are an estimated 10,000 miles of historic footpaths believed to be missing from the existing map, meaning to some extent we are already playing catch-up.
Some of the paths in question are still in use, but have not been officially recorded for whatever reason, while others have become overgrown and have not been used for years.
Campaigners from the Ramblers group are lobbying to extend the deadline, but we all have a part to play in making sure that as many paths are included on the new map as possible.
And it is of paramount importance that our local authorities are pro-active in identifying the routes in the areas they cover.
This comes at a time when the threats to the green belt are many, and despite government pledges to focus on brownfield sites for redevelopment, there remains widespread concern over the future of our green spaces.
In recent years ministers, along with all of our local councils, have been keen to promote walking as a way to improve health and well-being.
But this has not been made easy when you consider that so many public footpaths are either unsafe or disappearing from view.
Our policy makers need to take immediate action to ensure that all of the historic paths in this great region are officially recorded.
It will be devastating if we allow them to disappear off the map. Make no mistake, once they are gone, they will be gone for good.
If we lose our paths, a little bit of our past goes with them.
Dame Julie Walters deserves praise for speaking so openly about her experience of being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The star was understandably devastated when she found out she had the condition 18 months ago, but she quickly rallied and made the decision to fight it with all her might.
That is exactly what she did, and thankfully Dame Julie has now been given the all clear following chemotherapy.
By talking publicly about her experience and explaining how she and her family dealt with her diagnosis, she has performed a vital service.
It is only by speaking out about cancer and raising awareness that we can encourage more people to take action if they have concerns.
According to Bowel Cancer UK, every year in this country nearly 42,000 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer, making it the UK’s fourth most common cancer killer.
Dame Julie’s story shows why it is vital that people visit their GP if things do not feel right.
An early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.
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