Bury’s access to public footpaths has dwindled in the past century - but there are still many more places to walk in the borough compared to the national average.

Walking charity The Ramblers teamed up with The New Economics Foundation to complete extensive comparative analysis of historical and modern maps.

The data found an estimated 39 miles of protected footpaths in the Bury area have been lost over the past century.

Figures from the Department for Transport shows 55 per cent of Bury residents walked for leisure at least once a week last year, a small drop from the national average of 56 per cent.

Mike Bell, 65, from Lowercroft, who is a member of Greater Manchester Walking’s Bury group, said “It’s very frustrating, if you’re someone with a collection of maps and look at them to plan your walks and then you get there and there’s a housing estate or industrial site it’s a problem.

“However, land is a premium- on the other side of the argument is we need more housing and industrial sites for more jobs.”

Bury Times: Members of Greater Manchester Walking’s Bury group take a breakMembers of Greater Manchester Walking’s Bury group take a break (Image: Mike Bell)

However, the research shows Bury’s average postcode has 4,400 metres of footpath within a 10-minute walk, significantly higher than the national average of only 2,700 metres within the same distance.

Public rights of way are paths that anyone has a legal right to use.

While these are predominantly used by walkers, they can include bridleways also used by cyclists and horse riders.

Mr Bell said: “We are very lucky.

"With our surrounding areas, such as Holcombe and Burrs, there is access no matter which way out of Bury you go.

“The footpath officer at Bury Council is very good as well. We have someone in our group who contacts him about any problems with footpaths and he usually sorts them out within two weeks.”

Greater Manchester Walking aims to get more people out walking through organised, group walks.

Bury Times: Members of Greater Manchester Walking’s Bury groupMembers of Greater Manchester Walking’s Bury group (Image: Mike Bell)

Mr Bell highlighted social interaction within the group for helping people “mentally, not just physically".

He said: “We have great conversations as well as exercising out in the fresh air and countryside.

“You make friendships and we do other social activities too, and holidays away.”

Mr Bell also believes blocked footpaths should be redirected instead of abandoned.

For more information about the group click here.