The Plume Path – A Footpath or a Whale?

The story of getting a very short path onto the Definitive Map.

Tewin senery

There are photos of many of the places in these walks in our Tour of Tewin Album.

The following article, about one of the footpaths (47), appeared in the Tewin Society newsletter in June 2000 and was written by Patrick Holden, one of  our local authors and a keen member of the local branch of the Ramblers Association.

We are justly proud of our award winning Rights of Way network in Tewin.  Indeed, the Chairman of the Herts and Middlesex Ramblers – Bert Richardson – described it as the best in the county and one of the best in the country.  It includes a short but useful path leading from Upper Green Road to the Plume of Feathers pub and then on to the network beyond.  It was not on the Definitive Map partly because it was so short but largely because it used to be a wide public track.

Over recent years it has been cleared by Tewin Society Working Parties and latterly the Parish Partnership.  It had an old footpath sign.  A new Herts County Council official noticed this sign and decreed that as the path was not on the Definitive Map, it was not, therefore, a legal path and removed the sign.  We expostulated that of course the path was legal.  Many paths are legal, but not all are on the Definitive Map.  While all paths on the Definitive Map are legal, it does not mean that any path not on the map is not legal.  It is as logical as saying that “many creatures are mammals.  All men are mammals.  All whales are mammals.  Therefore man is a whale.”  Indeed there are two or three other such paths not DM paths in Tewin itself, as well as elsewhere.

The official was not convinced.  We therefore raised the matter with our County Councillor Roger Tucker.  We suggested that either the official or the sign be replaced.  The sign duly was.  However to keep up our good relations with HCC we agreed to apply formally to have the path added to the Definitive Map to avoid any such complication in the future.  We were able to obtain a considerable number of witnesses.  While there are too many to note in full, they included two families who lived in two of the four cottages, now since demolished which abutted on to the path.  They were able to give evidence that the track had existed for well over 50 years and indeed one person was available to confirm that the track had existed for over 90 years!

Another resident who had lived in Seven Acres in the 1950s was able to produce a photograph of herself with pony and trap on the path in question.  Don Tyler was on the Parish Council in the 1950s when preparing the first Definitive Map.  His evidence was that he believed that the track was a public road and therefore did not need to be included.

We were then told by County that there was a 10 year waiting list for inclusion on the DM.  But after the death of one of the key witnesses, we were able to expedite this path by linking it with another application.  The investigating officer at County – Rosalinde Shaw – produced a superb detailed book on each of the two applications which included showing that this Right of Way had been in existence for over 100 and probably more than 200 years. 

Eventually having gone through the various hoops and appeals, the path has now at last been granted official status.  It has taken over 5 years  and has generated more than enough paper to carpet the entire footpath, now numbered Tewin No 47.