The commitment to access for horses and riders is a vital part of the charitable work carried out by The British Horse Society.
The BHS recognises the importance of safe off-road riding, not only for our members but for all equestrians. We pledge to keep equestrians safe, horses happy, and support the continued growth of our sport and the equine industry.
In 2015, we put aside £25,000 to establish the BHS Paths for Communities Fund to provide multi-user routes in the UK. By the end of 2016, we received 32 applications. Six schemes have been implemented - resulting in five new routes and an improved route. Four more are in the course of implementation and further work is being undertaken on the remaining to bring them to fruition. To date, we have committed almost £20,000 funding to these projects.
Our aim for the Paths for Communities Fund is for it to grow through donations and fundraising events across the UK, so it can continue to benefit our vital access work in the years ahead.
We're now inviting BHS local committees and affiliated equestrian access groups to put forward bids for funding for new equestrian routes.
If you have identified a potential route that would benefit from the fund, then please complete an application form and send the form in along with a map of the proposed route. If you have any questions, contact the Access Team on 02476 840515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We may put you in contact with your local BHS Access Officer who can assist you with the application.
Make a donation
If you wish to donate to the fund to further assist with the creation of these routes, then you can do so quickly and securely via JustGiving. Thank you to those who have worked hard and raised lots of money for the fund, especially during Ride Out UK Month - we couldn’t do our work without you!
Where the fund has gone so far
Diamond Wood, Warwickshire
A £1,000 grant from the Society's Paths for Communities Fund and the hard work of Access & Bridleways Officer Mary Stephens and BHS Warwickshire helped pave the way for a one-and-a-half kilometer permissive route for riders, which gives equestrians safe and easy access to off-road riding in Diamond Wood. The path can be accessed from Onley Lane via a specially constructed horse friendly gate. Diamond Wood was planted in the Rainsbrook Valley is 2012 to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
BHS Director of Access, Mark Weston, said: "The provision of this route is an ideal opportunity for riders to enjoy a 1.5km route away from the roads and enjoy the new Diamond Wood at the same time. Our Paths for Communities Scheme was created to provide safe off road opportunities like this for riders and we are delighted to have worked in partnership with Rugby Council to create this route."
Treherbert, Rhonda Cynon Taff
County Access & Bridleways Officer (Rhondda Cynon Taf) Michelle Bracey-Lewis and Access & Bridleways Officer (Aberdare) Linsey Blayney negotiated access for horse riders to private land allowing them to avoid a potentially dangerous busy road.
The pair, who are also Chair and Treasurer of BHS affiliated Briars Bridleways, secured this 10 year commitment to allow riders access after access was denied due to an altercation between a rider and the new landowner. The owner was not against the idea of having riders on the land and had previously kept horses themselves, but had been put off by their initial negative experience.
Michelle and Linsey were able to mediate between the landowner and local riders and arranged a meeting, which led to the owner agreeing riders could use the land as long as they were mindful that it was now privately owned. To help with this, a path was fenced thanks to funding from the BHS Paths for Communities Fund and Briars Bridleways.
Whitmoor Common, Surrey
A previously impassable route on Whitmoor Common has been reopened to riders thanks to restoration work jointly funded by the BHS, BHS affiliated equestrian access groups Worplesdon & District Bridleways Association, Whitmoor Common Association, Sport England and Surrey Wildlife Trust.
The project took five years to complete and cost £14,500. Work involved creating drainage channels, resurfacing, clearing debris and replacing a bridge.
BHS Director of Access, Mark Weston, said: "It is so important to keep paths open for riders, cyclists and walkers to enjoy. We are delighted to have been able to grant £3,000 towards the project for the BHS Paths for Communities Fund. It is a great example of how organisations can work together to bring about improvements for multiple users. I have no doubt that this ride will be enjoyed by many."
Many thanks Jo Haward for the photo.
Weald Country Park, Essex
The BHS granted £3,000 from the Paths for Communities Fund to help restore a boggy section of bridleway in Weald Country Park, Essex. Essex Bridleways Association also put £2,500 towards the project, which was carried out with the support of Essex County Council.
The route was previously too boggy and waterlogged to be usable, but thanks to its restoration it is now in good condition for walkers, riders and cyclists alike to make the most of.
BHS Director of Access, Mark Weston, said: “I’m so pleased that our funding has helped to bring this bridleway back into use, and that riders, walkers and cyclists can now enjoy a circular route.”
Cothelstone Hill, Somerset
Thanks to the generosity of local landowner, Hugh Warmington, riders can now enjoy a linked route from Broomfield Common to bridleways on Cothelstone Hill, after he legally dedicated a former permissive bridleway.
The BHS Paths for Communities Fund matched with funds from Taunton Deane Bridleways Association has enabled restoration of the bridleway, as the route had become rutted and difficult to use. Thanks to these improvements the bridleway now offers a picturesque woodland route avoiding nearby busy traffic.
Local riders came to an Opening Event where Mr Warmington cut a ribbon to officially open the bridleway. Hi-vizvests and rosettes were donated to each rider to mark the occasion. Somerset County Council will now be asked to add the bridleway to the Definitive Map.
Coed Cymerau, North Ceredigion
The BHS granted £2,000 towards a permissive route at Coed Cymerau near Eglwys-fach in North Ceredigion after users were unable to ride a current right of way due to loose horses. The 450m route links to several existing bridleways, creating a large network for multi-users to enjoy across Llynfnant Valley, Powys, Eglwys-fach and south Ceredigion.
Ceredigion Bridleways Group played a major role applying for the route to be created, as well as clearing vegetation and fundraising £300 to support the work and creating way markers. The permissive route has been created with the kind permission of the landowners, Mr and Mrs Jones, Ynys-hir farm, Mrs Bredow, Cymerau Hall and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Over the last 12 years, Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association (UWBA) has worked successfully with the local council and various funding bodies to open new routes through council owned parks and recreational areas.
After refurbishing the Malt Kiln Fold Bridleway into a multi-user track, their next project was to extend the bridlepath around the whole of the park to create a 860 metre circular route; not only increasing the enjoyment of the area, but also linking up other tracks and improving access. The work, totalled £59,000 and £2,000, was acquired from the BHS Paths for Communities Fund. The work started in early 2016 and finished in August 2016.
The 'Lorraine Wood Loop' was dedicated after a local rider who had passed away from cancer in 2014. Her daughter, Lisa, and UWBA Lorraine Wood Loop Launch grandchildren attended the official launch, along with Anne Kingston from the Lancashire Environmental Fund, who part funded the project, Mark Weston, Director of Access & Rights of Way and the Mayor of South Ribble Borough Council.
Sue Taylor-Green, Chairman of UWBA, said: "We were absolutely thrilled to get it! We’re so grateful to all our funding bodies and are particularly pleased with the help from the BHS. It may seem daunting at times to fill in some of these forms, but the BHS one was fairly straightforward and I can only encourage other groups to apply – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!"
Marwell Zoo, Winchester
A tired bridleway in need of renovation at Marwell Zoo was successfully restored on 15 October 2015 - thanks to £350 funding given by The British Horse Society.
The bridleway, which runs from Colden Common to the entrance of the Wildlife Estate in Winchester is an important link from the local highway to other bridleways which run through the estate, and used regularly by locals and customers of the zoo.
The money, along with a matched grant from Hampshire County Council, enabled staff at the zoo and corporate volunteers from Southern Scottish Energy (SSE) to excavate a drainage ditch, compact a sub-base and provide a level and maintainable surface for all users. The long awaited restoration also meant it was safer for users, as riders previously accessed the network of bridleways through the zoo’s car park, presenting a safety issue. (Photo: the bridleway before)
Mark Weston, Director of Access, said: “I’m extremely pleased our funding has helped restore the bridleway at Marwell Zoo to a safe condition so riders and the local community can access it safely. The Paths for Communities Fund has now provided valuable match funding for a number of projects.”
(Right: Marwell Zoo staff and Southern Scottish Energy (SSE) corporate volunteers showing off the renovated bridleway)
The bridleway is shown on historical maps dating as far back as the 17th century. At that time and preceding it, the estate was owned by the Bishops of Winchester and the woodlands formed part of extensive deer emparkments. A boundary to the eastern margin of this emparkment is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM), which lies adjacent to one of our bridleways. This bridleway was also once the only route towards the Grade I listed Marwell Hall and onto Bishops Waltham. The BHS is delighted to announce that during Access Week 2015, the first funds were awarded to support a project that has resulted in the creation of a new bridleway in Somerset.
Dr Phil Wadey, Historic Research Advisor for the British Horse Society and former Chairman of the Society, successfully bid for £500 from the BHS Paths For Communities Fund. The money will see a new mile and a quarter long bridleway at Northaw, Hertfordshire physically created and then added to the definitive map. This new bridleway will take walkers, riders and cyclists off the busy Coopers Lane Road and join existing bridleways together.
New Bridleway off Coopers Lane Road - Phil sought the agreement of the owners, Hertfordshire County Council, and occupiers, the Hertfordshire and Middlesex Wildlife Trust for a new path joining two bridleways that came out on Coopers Lane Road. A special thanks to the County and Parish Councils for their funding and determination to help local people get off the busy roads.
Phil Wadey said: “It has taken real teamwork across a wide variety of interests to get this path to happen. I am grateful to all who have contributed, and I hope that many walkers, riders and cyclists will be able to enjoy this woodland path in preference to the busy Coopers Lane Road. I hope too that we can continue this excellent path to get even more people off the busy road.”
Thanks to the generosity of local landowner Mr Kong (third from left in photo) of Moor Farm at Hardington Mandeville, who dedicated the bridleway across his land. Riders can now link onto Coker Hill Lane, a bridleway which was added to the definitive map last year after a successful application by the South Somerset Bridleways Association.
The Paths for Communities Fund, with matched funding from the South Somerset Bridleways Association, paid for new fencing to be installed and a horse friendly gate to be re-positioned to make the route easy to use by all.
East Lothian, Scotland
The BHS Paths for Communities Fund has enabled path managers in East Lothian to install grip strips on two strategic wooden bridges ensuring that horse riders can continue to use the paths safely for the foreseeable future.
Volunteers worked on the disused railway line running between Haddington and Longniddry in East Lothian, including a number of BHS volunteers on a very wet Friday in November. This is a very popular riding route, but concerns had been raised by local horse riders that the two bridges on this route can become slippery when wet.
This positive work was jointly funded by BHS Paths for Communities Fund and Paths for All, a Scottish access charity.
Haddington to Longniddry Railway Walk is a disused railway line that links two small towns. This route is a core path and connects to the adjacent access network. It is very popular with horse riders and other users and has various liveries close by.
Nick Morgan, Access Officer for East Lothian Council said: “I am very grateful to the BHS for part-funding this project. It is a great example of different user groups working together to improve access for all. We had four BHS volunteers and a Sustrans volunteer working with us.
“The day after we fixed the grip strips to the bridge I received a phone call from an old lady who was so pleased that the bridges are so much easier to cross now! A big thank you to all of the volunteers.