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Race against time to preserve our bridleways

19 May 2014


A new toolkit launched by The British Horse Society will help to get historic bridleways and off-road riding routes in England and Wales recorded on the definitive map before they become at risk of being lost.

Any such routes not recorded by a 2026 cut-off date imposed by The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) will be in danger of being closed to horse riders and carriage drivers. Potentially thousands of historic routes could be jeopardised.

This is a very real threat to equestrians, who may currently be riding on unrecorded routes unknowingly. With less access to safe off-road riding than ever before horse riders cannot afford to lose the routes they currently do have, and unless action is taken, this could be a reality.

The BHS has a dedicated team of 230 Access and Bridleways Officers. They campaign tirelessly to protect Britain’s equestrian off-road routes with great success – one stalwart volunteer has now recorded routes totalling almost 20 kilometres and made applications for in excess of 100 more, which are waiting to be processed by his council.

However, the BHS and its volunteers are running out of time. We are over halfway to 2026 and the charity needs your help.

The BHS is mobilising its 80,000 members to help protect their local bridleways and byways by equipping them with a mapping toolkit. This contains all the information needed to check whether the routes you ride are recorded, and if they aren’t how you can preserve them beyond 2026. The toolkit will make it much easier for BHS members, and anyone else who is able to help, to save the routes so loved by equestrians.

The charity has made an excellent start on saving your equestrian routes, but there is still much more to do. If you don’t want to see the day where your only hacking route is out on the increasingly busy main roads, then help the BHS protect and preserve the equestrian off-road network.

Getting these historic routes accurately recorded on the definitive map is the only way to ensure that they won’t be lost after 2026, and the BHS toolkit is the key to helping you achieve it.

Visit our Access and Bridleways section to find your local BHS Bridleway Officer, or download a pdf version of the toolkit now to get started.

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