The Footpaths

The Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society exists to protect the interests of users of public paths by ensuring (a) their reasonable maintenance and freedom from obstruction and (b) their adequate signposting and waymarking.

The footpath system has developed over a long period.  It was originally necessary  for journeys between home and work, church, nearby towns and villages, schools and place of refreshment.  Now this heritage is available not only for its original use but for recreation as well.

Management of the local footpaths rests with the Hampshire County Council and the Society liaises closely with the Council's Rights of Way Department in ensuring that bridges, stiles and gates are properly maintained; paths are kept free from obstruction; illegal ploughing of headland paths is checked; crossfield paths are reinstated after ploughing; and that, where appropriate, paths are clearly signposted and waymarked.


The Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society was formed in 1974 to protect the interests of users of public paths by ensuring (a) their reasonable maintenance and freedom from obstruction  and (b) their adequate signposting and waymarking. It aims to urge local authorities to discharge their responsibilities with regard topublic paths and seeks to foster and maintain friendly cooperation between path users, landowners, local authorities and the community generally.

The Society's area is made up of thirteen parishes and covers about 160 square kilometres of greatly varied countryside ranging from quiet water meadows to high wind-blown common, from the edge of the New Forest to the borders of Cranborne Chase. A variety of flora and fauna including deer may be seen and within the new forest, grazing ponies, cattle, donkeys, sheep and pigs may be met.

Although we are essentially a footpath protection organisation, we believe that the best way of maintaining the network in good order is to make good and regular use of it. Newcomers to the area, prospective new members and visitors are very welcome to join us for walks in these delightfully varied parts of Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire.

During the months of April and October, our walks take place on the rights of way in our 13 parishes. For the other 10 months of the year, our walks are also held in an area of wonderfully contrasting scenery, from the New Forest to the rolling chalk downlands and onwards to the coastline of Dorset and the rural landscapes of Southern Wiltshire.

The area covered by the RFFS comprises these thirteen parishes 













Ellingham, Harbridge & Ibsley


Name *
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Address *
Where is the problem *
What is wrong *
Is it urgent *
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Photo - fallow bucks © D Knapp 2012

The Society works closely with Hampshire County Council to overcome problems on the footpaths and bridleways in the 13 parishes.


The Footpath Secretary, Kelvin Winch, filters reports from members (and non-members) before sending them to the HCC Rights of Way team. The team also send Kelvin reports they receive directly from the public for checking.    


You may come across a blocked path, broken stile or gate, unclear signposting or way marking or anything which prevents the right-of-way being used properly.  


In the first instance please use the following form to report the problem.  


Please include your phone number so that the exact location and difficulty can be discussed and assessed.  It is useful if you can find the footpath number and give the grid reference.  

Selected well-used paths in our area have been included in the improvement works being carried under the Mitigation Project by HCC and NFDC. Above is the access to path 42 which goes from the path beside Hightown Lake to the bottom of Crow Hill.  The completed work (right) will be appreciated by many.

The access from the lakeside path to path 40, which joins path 35a  to get to the top of Hightown Hill, has needed attention.  A new kissing gate has been installed (as above).  The stream bank at the western end had been eroded for several years (see left). That has now been reinforced with caged stone and timber facing to make this length a safer route.

Path 41a, beside Hightown Lake and on to the Castleman Trailway, had become very muddy but it now has a new all-weather surface.  It still keeps its country atmosphere though - as left.

Major works have been carried out on path 71, The Avon Valley Path, between Hurst Road and Snails Lane.  Many will remember tripping over the tree routes where the bank was being undercut by the brook - as below.  


The caged stone has been used again to shore up the bank and level the path.  A good-looking solution to a difficult problem - right.


Pity about the mile or so of industrial-style plastic sheeting to protect the anglers' sensitivities.