A scheme to record pre-wartime bridleways across Hertfordshire has successfully passed its first milestone, saving an historic pathway from being extinguished.
20,000 off road routes for horse and riders in England are under threat from being written off the map under a clause in right-to-roam legislation. 50 routes across Hertfordshire have been pinpointed as in need of protection.
Coltsfoot Lane in Antsey has become the first route officially protected in the county. The recording of the route saves 790 metres of off road access in Hertfordshire from being extinguished.
Led by The British Horse Society (BHS) and funded by Sport England, the project aims to save as many rights of way created prior to 1949 before 1 January 2026. Due to government legislation in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, unrecorded rights of way dating before 1949 will be written off the map after this date.
Mark Weston, Director of Access at the BHS, said: “I’m extremely pleased the first of the 100 applications in Hertfordshire and Somerset has been officially recorded. It’s imperative that we officially map our historic routes for equestrians and others to enjoy now and in the future.
“I encourage anyone who wishes to protect their local off road riding routes to visit our website and download the Countdown to 2026 toolkit. We need to check that every route used is recorded, or risk its loss."
Without off road routes, the UK’s 2.7 million riders* would be pushed onto the roads in order to exercise their horse outside of the yard or hack out.
Dr Phil Wadey, a volunteer for the BHS, was responsible for mapping Coltsfoot Lane. Dr Wadey said: “I’m delighted that this path is now added to the definitive map for Hertfordshire. The road links a number of off road routes, improving the rights of way network for walkers, riders and carriage drivers alike.
“It’s essential that we continue to detect as many of our historic paths as possible and get them recorded. Riders and horse carriage drivers using Coltsfoot Lane may have had no idea that it could have been written off the map without this intervention.”
Other routes which are under investigation include extending a restricted byway (Buntingford 9 in the parish of Hormead, Herts), adding a restricted byway at Froghall Lane in the Parish of Walkern, Herts and adding and upgrading a byway at Braughing Friars in the parish of Albury, Herts.