With 2014 firmly in the past, there is another year less to
record any historic bridleways that are not currently recorded on the
Any historic bridleway in England needs to be recorded on the
definitive map by 2026 or it could be extinguished forever. To combat this
threat we launched the 2026 Toolkit, which informs people how to check whether
the route they ride is recorded, and if it isn’t how to protect it beyond 2026.
We wait to see what will happen in Wales and whether the Welsh government will
follow suit with their own deregulation bill.
Access and Bridleways Officers and Equestrian Access Groups
have again had a busy year protecting and extending the existing network, with
eight new routes being recommended by the Planning Inspectorate to be added to
the definitive map, two routes saved from deletion, two areas of waste land of
the manor registered as common land in Cornwall meaning that horse riders can
now legally ride there, and exchange land secured at Walton Heath in Surrey.
Ten definitive map modification order applications have been submitted to
secure routes that are not currently recorded on the definitive map and many
more are being researched. There will be more that we have not been informed of
and we intend to improve our reporting mechanisms in 2015 so that all of the
work that is done is recognised, which in turn will hopefully mean more members
joining the BHS, Equestrian Access Groups and more people being enthused to
volunteer as Access Officers.
Natural England Report
We worked with Natural England, who are to date providing
18km of equestrian routes with 127 hectares of area wide access on their
national nature reserve estate. The following national nature reserves will be
being considered in 2015 and it is important that we liaise with Natural
England in respect of these sites to see whether any can provide access for
Bredon Hill, Worcestershire, Derwent Gorge and Muggleswick
Woods, Northumberland, Gordano Valley, Somerset, Ham Street Woods, Kent,
Kingley Vale, West Sussex, Ludham and Potter Heigham Marshes, Norfolk,
Parsonage Down, Wiltshire, Rusland Moss, Cumbria, Stodmarsh, Kent, Suffolk
Coast, Suffolk, Calthorpe Broad, Norfolk, Dungeness, Kent, Fenn’s, Whixall and
Bettisfield Mosses, Shropshire, Hallsenna Moor, Cumbria, High Leys, Cumbria,
Lower Derwent Valley, East Riding of Yorkshire, Sandybeck Meadow, Cumbria,
Somerset Levels, Somerset, Wybunbury Moss, Cheshire.
We have produced new advisory leaflets on surfaces, Access
overview, Riding through Cattle, and Riding on beaches in Scotland to assist
all equestrians and to encourage more people to get out riding in our
countryside and urban areas.
To assist with the mapping of routes, both recorded and
non-recorded we have been developing an exciting new simpler mapping facility
using Memory Map which will be rolled out in 2015. This has already
successfully been used to plot long distance rides in Scotland.
During 2014 we held 16 training courses attended by 87
delegates, a national access conference, a south west access meeting, and two
Scottish access technical information network days.
Around the Nations and Regions
The Isle of Wight Bridleways Group helped secure the upgrade
of an existing footpath to a multi user route connecting a dead end bridleway
to Strawberry Lane and supplied a new bridle gate to the scheme.
April saw the opening of a new bridleway linking Porthleven
and the National Trust’s Penrose Estate, with the National Trust providing 10
miles of new bridleways, which was made possible by the Penrose Estate Paths
for Communities project.
The Humphrey Kynaston Way, a new long distance route for
horse riders, walkers and cyclists which runs the length of Shropshire was
opened during Access Week.
May also saw the launching of a Paths for Communities funded
route, The Yellow Brick Road bridleway, which had long been on the list of
missing links in the County Durham network.
St Euny's Well Way, Cornwall
June saw the opening of another Paths for Communities
scheme, the St. Euny’s Well Way, Cornwall. The route is a new 200-yard stretch
completing the bridleway from Chapel Carn Brea to Brane, and can now be enjoyed
by riders, walkers, cyclists and disabled users.
The new bridleway was made possible thanks to funding from
Natural England’s Paths for Communities scheme, as well as the hard work of BHS
Affiliated Bridleway Group the West Penwith Bridleways’ Association. The
generosity of local farmers was also key in the success of this project.
The British Horse Society Scotland, with help of funding
from Scottish Natural Heritage, carried out a long distance route audit to help
riders determine which of the eight most popular long distance routes or
sections of them, are suitable for horses. Our consultant was assisted by no
less than 92 volunteers.
Wolf Minerals, the operator of a tin mine opened up a new
public bridleway in Devon. The 650m bridleway was opened in Hemerdon and
provides a new safe off-road route for horse riders, walkers and cyclists.
Path Minders, a footpath and bridleways group located in Llanbrynmair
set up by BHS Access Officer Michael Mosse (CABO Montgomeryshire) and friend
Steve Jagger, have among other things installed four gates; cleared a number
of overgrown byways; removed bundles of discarded wire from a bridleway and
ultimately made sure that at least five or six kilometres of rights of way in
the local area is now useable.
BHS affiliated Five Pits Horse Watch and Countryside Access
Group continued to work hard to raise funds to help finance the maintenance of
the Tibshelf Canter Track, a purpose built all-weather track adjacent to The
Five Pits Trail at Tibshelf, Derbyshire. The Five Pits Trail is managed by
Derbyshire County Council’s Countryside Service who financed the building of
the track in 2013.
The Humberston Bridleway, a new 2.2km bridleway in
Cleethorpes, was opened, much to the delight of local riders who had been
working for years to get a safe and legal off-road route through from the
traffic to the beach in Humberston.
The opening of Sheets Heath, Brookwood
Previously, riders had been going through an area of holiday
homes known as The Fitties and while many people didn't mind, there were a few
North East Lincolnshire Council worked with local BHS
representatives to find a solution, and with the goodwill and co-operation of
Thorpe Park leisure site and the RSPB, the new route was found and will be way
The BHS Ireland Greyabbey Toll Ride in Co Down continues to
provide access to 6.5km of picturesque trails within in the Greyabbey Estate
for BHS Gold Members who join the Toll Ride.
Local residents from Leyland, Lancashire celebrated the
reopening of the Malt Kiln Fold Bridleway in August after much hard work by the
BHS affiliated Ulnes Walton Bridleways Association (UWBA).
The UWBA led the major refurbishment project, which involved
£25,000 worth of improvements, to restore the bridleway after it had fallen
In September, the Worplesdon and District Bridleways
Association (WDBA) -funded path on Sheets Heath, Brookwood was completed. It
provides year-round access to Sheets Heath and Staffordlake, creating a link
between Pirbright and Chobham. The project has taken four years to complete,
and has only been possible with the support of the landowner, Woking Borough
Council, and the approval of Natural England.
A popular route in Taplow, Buckinghamshire, was safeguarded
for riders, walkers and cyclists following an outstanding effort by Alison
Adcock, a local horse rider and equestrian access enthusiast.
Alison, with the help of local residents, led the five-year
campaign to secure the future of this much-used bridleway after the sale of the
land on which it was situated caused riders to have their access revoked.
BHS Oxon donated £500 to Oxon County Council’s Countryside
Access Team for improvements for equestrian users.
BHS Scotland held a joint event with Forestry Commission
Scotland which encouraged understanding each other’s needs while working or
riding in the national forest estate.
Christine Hardaker successfully challenged Bradford Council
over their bye-laws banning horses on public open space. Having succeeded on
the legal side, she then had another battle to get them to take down their 'No
In Northern Ireland, King John’s Highway, Holywood was
reopened. While this lane is only 100 yards long, it cuts off a dangerous bend
on the adjoining road.
In Cambridgeshire Access Officers working with the Wildlife
Trust aim to secure a number of new bridleways around the new Trumpington Country Park providing a vast new
area open to horse riders and providing a link between existing definitive routes.
Access Officers have been busy ensuring that adequate
provision is made for equestrians in road scheme proposals in Cheshire,
Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.
In Surrey, Sandra Smith oversaw the renovation of Bridleways
of Thursley Common.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of our Access
Officers, and congratulate all of those that received Access and Long Service
Awards this year and especially Ann Fraser, chairman of equestrian access in
Scotland, who was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list for
services to the horse and the Scottish borders.
Merseyside police received an Access Award for their work
throughout the summer of 2013 to make bridleways and open spaces safer for
horse riders and other users. ‘Operation Brookdale’ was launched in response to
a rising tide of incidents involving unauthorised off-road vehicles causing
damage and mayhem on tracks and open areas across the region, and resulted in a
highly successful crackdown on reckless and anti-social behaviour culminating
in the seizure of 171 unauthorised vehicles.
Dorset County Council received an Access Award for the
creation of a new 12-mile multi-user route that links Sturminster Newton and
Blandford Forum on the old disused Somerset-Dorset Railway.
Hertfordshire County Council received The Lady Elizabeth
Kirk Award for their substantial dedications in and around Aldenham village,
which have resulted in circular rides around the village that remove the need
to ride on the exceedingly busy Watford to Radlett road, enabling riders to
enjoy the already existing routes by linking together what had been a
fragmented rights of way network in the parish.
Our BHS Equestrian Access Groups Facebook page continues to
go from strength to strength, with more people than ever getting involved with
what we’re doing. We post the latest access news from our volunteers and
Equestrian Access Groups and spark fun discussions with an access theme. We
love hearing from you, so if you haven’t already, Like the page and get talking
Access Director Mark Weston and other Members of the Stakeholder Working Group on Unrecorded Public Rights of Way lobbying at The House of Lords on the Deregulation Bill
The Society continues to lobby nationally and locally to
raise the profile of the need for more safe off road access for equestrians. We
have met with Ministers and responded to several national consultation
documents to ensure equestrian issues are considered.
We continue to work with partners/government organisations
to secure more access and are pleased to be taking forward initiatives with the
National Trust, the Canals and River Trust and the Trails Trust, Environment
Agency to name but a few.
We have been monitoring and contributing to the passage of
the Deregulation Bill to ensure that the rights of way provisions within the
Bill progress without amendment.
In Wales, there is concern that the Active Travel (Wales) Act
will have a detrimental impact on equestrian access, but lobbying has secured a
statement stating that, 'Equestrians must not be disadvantaged by the
development of Active Travel routes for walkers and cyclists'.
Lobbying also ensured that equestrians were included in the
Road Safety Delivery Strategy for Wales. From late 2014 we have been working on
a number of Local Transport Plan consultations in Wales, which, in March, will
replace the Regional Transport Plans that ignored equestrians.