The Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust, a charity devoted to extending the off-road riding network in South Hertfordshire, welcomed the opening of the long-needed new bridleway off Coopers Lane Road. The BHS, Ramblers and Open Spaces Society were also delighted by the new route, which is a mile and a quarter long, and provides a safer route for walkers, riders and cyclists than Coopers Lane Road, which has no pavements and is used by fast traffic.
The path was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Borough, Councillor Pat Mabbott on Saturday 8 August 2015.
Cllr Mabbot said, “On behalf of the residents of Welwyn Hatfield, I am delighted to be able to open the new Northaw 17 bridleway today. The route takes walkers, riders and cyclists off the busy Coopers Lane Road, joins existing bridleways so making sense of a disjointed network, and is a testament to what can be achieved by councils, the Wildlife Trust, voluntary groups and dedicated individuals working hand in hand.”
The path came about when Dr Phil Wadey, Secretary to the Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust, was inspired by the Natural England Paths for Communities Scheme, which made grants to create new paths. He sought the agreement of the owners, Hertfordshire County Council, and occupiers, the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust for a new path joining two bridleways that came out on Coopers Lane Road. This sat well with the County’s Rights of Way Improvements Plan.
Unfortunately the Natural England scheme closed before everything has been agreed, leaving a funding gap. Fortunately, the Northaw and Cuffley Parish Council used their Parish Paths Partnership money to support the project, the County contributed from the Rights of Way budget, and the Bridleways Trust and its members sought donations from riders and equestrian bodies. The British Horse Society readily contributed £750 towards the target.
David Gompertz, Volunteer Warden for the Wildlife Trust who gave a strip of land for the path said, “Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust and the Bridleways Trust have overlapping aims. We are both concerned with improving the health of our natural environment and part of our mission is to get people out into green spaces to enjoy them and be involved in caring for them.”
Phil Wadey concluded, “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.”