A campaign to reinstate an ancient footpath near Tring uncovered another ‘bonus’ route which had laid forgotten for more than 200 years.
John Savage, Tring Local History Society’s membership secretary, was the driving force behind the bid to officially reinstate Tring town footpath 87, which runs along the edge of a field next to the Icknield Way, before ending up on the Wendover Arm canal.
Though the route had been used continuously for many years by walkers, ramblers and dog-walkers, it had never been officially recorded as a footpath, so when the landowner erected a barbed-wire fence in 2012, keen walker Mr Savage set about making it official – but what he wasn’t prepared for was uncovering another unknown path running from New Mill to Tring, which dated back to 1799 – now Tring town footpath 88.
Mr Savage, who lives in Lakeside, Tring, with wife Shelley, said: “If people have walked a given route for 20 years or more, you can claim it as a public footpath.
“We put together a claim, with the help of Tring Town Council, and we had 15 people come forward who had been using the path for 20 years or more, and 30 who had been using it for less.”
As part of the investigation into the ancient route, Herts County Council discovered the unknown path which cut right across footpath 87. It had been created under the Tring Inclosures Act 1797.
Mr Savage said: “The unknown path has never appeared on any maps since 1804 and no one in living memory knew about it. It’s a bonus!
“What we think happened is that when the Wendover Arm was finished in 1797, people began walking along the canal and footpath 88 fell into disuse.
“You would not think something so historic would have a direct implication and relevance today, but people are using footpath 88 already.”
The county council have installed steps and sign posts to assist walkers and ramblers.
Nick Hollinghurst, county councillor for Tring, said: “This is an excellent example of community action and the success is in great measure down to the hard work, skills and determination of John Savage.”