Paths and ways can provide shorter and additional ways of getting from A to B, whether to a school, station or shop, so can help increase walking and cycling in your local area. It’s not just about completing a local walking and cycling network: having a different routes to chose from rather than having to use the same one every day can make walking and cycling more fun and appealing.
Upgrading the surface of paths and barriers, for example converting stiles to gates, can help make routes more accessible to people of a wider range of abilities. It's not just about providing for wheelchair users - crossing stiles can be difficult for those who are less ambulant.
Similarly being able to 'get away from it all' and spend a few minutes in nature can be a motivating factor for people to chose to walk or cycle, even if might take a little longer than another means of travel.
There is increasing concern about the rise of ‘nature deficit disorder’, behavioural problems partly caused by people, particularly children, spending less and less time outdoors. Paths and ways can improve access to and connections with local wildlife and the seasons, bringing mental as well as physical health benefits. By generally being segregated from, if not removed from motor traffic, people feel much safer using them than walking or riding paths than on a road. So paths can be particularly important in giving people in rural areas - where traffic speeds are higher and more dangerous - and children opportunities in their immediate area for physically active travel.
In terms of leisure, having a good network provides opportunities for local people to exercise, whether dog walking, horse riding, running or health walks - see the organising events section. It can also bring in visitors who may spend locally, helping support the vitality of pubs, local shops, businesses and public transport.
More broadly, rights of way form part of the fabric of the landscape and a connection to the history of your local area, so they are as worth conserving as other forms of heritage such as buildings.