HE WAS a ramblers' champion who saved thousands of miles of beloved footpaths for future generations to enjoy.

Now he has finally been honoured with a blue plaque at his former home.

Wytton Perowne d'Arcy Dalton was celebrated and remembered when the tribute was unveiled at his house at Great Milton on Friday morning.

Old friends, colleagues and kindred countryside campaigners joined the celebration to remember his work.

Eda Forbes, secretary of Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board, said: "Wytton d'Arcy Dalton was an indefatigable champion and protector of public rights of way.

"Without his interest in first identifying, then mapping and defending the routes, the county’s network would be much reduced."

Born in 1893, the young Wytton came up to Oxford and joined Lincoln College.

In 1926 he was one of the founding members of the Oxford and District Footpaths, Bridle Paths and Commons Preservation Society, formed to tackle the decline in public use of footpaths and their consequent 'usurpation' by farmers and landowners.

His first strategy was to publish a two-inch-to-the-mile map of footpaths and bridle paths covering 144 square miles centred on Oxford.

With two other committee members, he personally checked the route of each and every path.

The first edition, printed by Ordnance Survey in 1933, quickly sold out and was reprinted in 1935.

When the National Parks and Access to the countryside legislation of 1949 required county councils to identify all public rights of way in their areas, d’Arcy Dalton came to the fore to help parish councils across Oxfordshire with the task.

When the draft map was published, farmers and landowners raised objections to no less than 497 paths, while the society challenged the omission of 135.

From 1954 to 1958, Mr Dalton doggedly attended full-day hearings about disputed cases in Oxfordshire and North Berkshire, defending the society’s claims with hard-researched evidence from enclosure records and interviews with witnesses.

He carried the day in most cases.

Notable successes included the entire Thames towpath from Henley to Oxford, the Pinkhill Farm and Lock path, the Wick Farm bridleway, the bridle way from Great Milton to Haseley, paths within the parishes of Cumnor and Wootton and in Wallingford town.

He was a member of the Oxford Footpaths Society for a total of 55 years, becoming chairman in 1959 and president in 1977.

He was also a member of the executive committee of both the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Oxford Preservation Trust.

In 1986 a long-distance way (over 60 miles) across the Oxfordshire Cotswolds from Wormleighton in Warwickshire to The Ridgeway at Wayland’s Smithy was named the D’Arcy Dalton Way.

He lived at Wyverns, now called The Limes, in Great Milton from 1961 until his death in 1981 and lectured in Military History at Lincoln.