‘Britain’s best walks’ were revealed by Julia Bradbury, with the Lake District coming up top. However, the UK’s largest equestrian charity, The British Horse Society, has found that horse riders can only access half of these routes. Of those that can be accessed by horse riders, very few allow them to ride the whole route.
The charity campaigns to protect and extend off-road access for horse riders and carriage drivers, but warns that many bridleways are under threat and riders are shut off from enjoying our countryside.
Shockingly, horse riders have access to just 22% of the rights of way network. But current riding routes could decrease drastically as thousands of bridleways are at risk of being extinguished. Legislation dictates that by 2026, routes that existed in 1949 and still exist on 1 January 2026 have to be recorded on a Council’s Definitive map; otherwise they will be erased from the records and could be closed for good.
The charity are urging for greater protection of rights of way for equestrians, so they can enjoy the countryside on an equal footing with cyclists and walkers. It has a team of volunteers throughout the UK who are recording these routes, so they can remain open to equestrians, cyclists and walkers.
Mark Weston, Director of Access at The British Horse Society, explains the importance of opening up routes for riders: “There are over 1.3 million regular riders in the UK, and they need access to safe off-road routes. We hear time and time again from horse riders who feel they have no choice but to go on the roads.”
“Sadly, the speed and volume of traffic on our roads are becoming increasingly dangerous. We will continue to lobby government and work with partners to ensure horse riders have access to more off road routes that link up”.