Footpaths in Sunningwell Parish
Public footpaths are the responsibility of the County Council not the Parish Council. The information below is provided as a guide to walkers.
Partly as a result of Covid lockdown constraints, walkers are using the footpaths in Sunningwell to an increasing extent. Although this is doubtless beneficial to the general public well-being, there is a downside to the health of the countryside, particularly during spells of wet weather. Footpaths, especially those across fields with crops planted, become churned up with mud and walkers sometimes tend to deviate from the path so as to avoid the “mud bath” along the original path alignment. This results in the crop at the sides of the path being trampled and destroyed, and represents a loss to the farmer when the crop is harvested. Often, walkers deviate from the path because they do not have suitable footwear to cope with mud underfoot. SPC urges all walkers on footpaths in Sunningwell Parish to wear waterproof boots or wellies and stay on the path alignment, as many of the footpaths are in low lying areas, or in areas with a clay underlay, which tend to accumulate water and are poorly drained.
Increased footpath usage has also sometimes resulted in walkers using footpaths that are neither Public Rights of Way nor a Permissive Footpath which can be walked only with the permission of the landowner. Public Rights of Way in Sunningwell Parish may be seen marked in red or purple on this map.
There is currently a nationwide campaign by The Ramblers organization (the so-called Lost Paths campaign) to get paths that were demonstrably used in the past reclassified as Public Rights of Way, through what is called a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO). This process is administered by Oxfordshire County Council, which considers the evidence (both documentary evidence from old maps and user evidence from walkers who have used such paths within their lifetimes). OCC is the adjudicator in this process, which may be initiated by any citizen, for any claimed path, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Footpaths which are the subject of a DMMO claim should only be walked once the footpath has been declared a Public Right of Way and shown on the Definitive Footpath Map issued and maintained by OCC.