About the Rights of Way Group
The Rights of Way Group (ROWG) concerns itself with nearly 5,000 footpaths, bridleways, and byways (paths) in the Chilterns Society's area of operation, which covers about 650 square miles, extending along the Chilterns from Hitchin in the north east to Goring-on-Thames in the south west, and includes the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
With a total distance of paths at around 2,300 miles, and with open access land – particularly that created following the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 – our objective is to keep paths open and in good condition, to add to and otherwise improve the network of paths where possible, and to encourage use of all paths and open access land, so that people can enjoy the Chiltern countryside away from towns and traffic.
The Group has achieved a great deal since lts formation in 1965, but nothing stands stlll in the countryside and we need to remain vigilant if improvements won are not to be eroded.
Roles within the ROWG
The ROWG The ROWG Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Secretary, with Area Secretaries and co-opted officers with special responsibilities, constitute the ROWG Committee, which coordinates the Group’s affairs, acts on the Society’s behalf in proposing or responding to possible legislative or other developments relating to rights of way, and does all it can to promote access to the countryside.
Our 20 Area Secretaries, each within a prescribed area, are responsible for the effective monitoring of paths through their Path Representatives and of open access land, for taking the appropriate action to resolve any reported difficulties about their condition, for examining and responding to proposals to create, divert, or extinguish paths, and for seeking improvements to the path network.
Each of our Path Representatives monitors paths in a parish or part of a parish – there is no requirement that the parish should be their own, though that will often be their preference. Their essential task is to walk their allocated paths with a view to identifying and reporting to their Area Secretary any problems they come across. It is very welcome if Path Representatives are also able to carry out some minor maintenance work on their paths but quite acceptable, and no hindrance to appointment, if they choose not to.
Path Maintenance Volunteers
Our three Path Maintenance Volunteer groups assist local authorities by carrying out path maintenance and improvements agreed with them. The work to be carried out on any one occasion varies according to the needs in particular locations but may typically involve clearing paths of fallen trees, growth and other obstructions; waymarking their route, sometimes by erecting waymark posts; and improving their safety or convenience, for example by providing steps on awkward stretches, or building, renovating, or, where it is so agreed, removing stiles or replacing them by gates. A variety of tools and machines are used, and training given in their proper use.
The two larger PMV groups in Bucks. and South Oxfordshire have somewhat different work patterns but both work throughout the year, confining their efforts mainly to weekdays and not usually working more than one day in any particular week. Dates of work meetings are notified well in advance, but it is left to each individual to decide which sessions to attend. A session normally takes the form of a morning’s work followed, for those who wish it, by lunch together locally. The third group in Central Beds. being new, will establish its pattern of work as time goes on.
Walks Coordinator and Walk Leaders
The Walks Coordinator arranges and publicises (e.g. in Chiltern magazine, in this web-site, and in public libraries) programmes of walks of varying lengths, both at weekends and midweek, led normally by a Society Walk Leader.
Cycling Coordinator and Ride Leaders
The Cycling Coordinator, as the name implies, coordinates the activities of the Cycling group, which acts as a focus for Society members with an interest in cycling and amongst other things arranges and publicises its own recreational rides, led normally by a Society Ride Leader.
Research Officer and Cartographer
The ROWG initiates publication of footpath maps, specifically for walkers, which cover the greater part of the Chiltern area and are being continuously updated and extended by the Group’s Research Officer and Cartographer.
Chiltern Way Officers
As a Millennium project the Group established the Chiltern Way, a broadly circular long route through much of the best countryside in the Chilterns. Northern and southern extensions, plus an additional Berkshire Loop have been added. The Group’s Chiltern Way Officers, one covering the northern parts, the other the southern, ensure that effective arrangements are in place for monitoring the route, helping to keep it in good walkable condition, and promoting its enjoyment.
How to volunteer
We are always delighted to hear from Society members who would like, now or in the future, to engage in any of the work we do. Very little of it demands previous experience. If you feel you might like to assist us, please make initial contact* as follows:
• For Path Maintenance Volunteers, please contact the relevant Facilitator.
• For leading walks, please contact the Walks Coordinator.
• For involvement in cycling, please contact the Cycling Group Coordinator.
• For all other ROWG activities, or if you are not sure what would interest you most, please contact the ROWG Secretary.
* Contact details of the post-holders are shown annually in Chiltern magazine and can be seen in the Society's directory page in this website. If however you cannot find what you want in this way, please contact the Society’s Office for advice, on tel. 01494 771250 or
ROWG start page
About the ROWG
Chiltern Society Footpath Maps in our online shop.
Reporting a path problem
Path Maintenance Volunteers