Many years ago St Austell and the surrounding areas experienced numerous problems with a number of bridleways being blocked, either by becoming overgrown with vegetation or by people placing obstructions to stop equine access. It is thought the problem arose because the then Restormel Council in circa 1960’s graded all paths as Footpaths. At the time no-one understood the implications of this decision as the paths continued to be used as they always had been.
It was not until the late middle 1970’s onwards that the implications of the decision became apparent. As land was sold, new owners wanted to stop horses using the tracks. It was around this time that I met a lady who was the local representative for the BHS called Susan Milln. Over many long years Susan worked tirelessly to regain access to our bridleways. The work involved hours of research, endless communication with the then council, attending public meetings and when necessary using the modification order system to put the records straight. Without her dedication the St Austell area would not enjoy the riding it has today.
Susan’s dedication to the cause meant that she succeeded in almost all of the projects she tackled. The one that she could not resolve was the bridleway at Trenarren, a short stretch across a field that linked one bridleway to another.
Recently some local riders, with assistance from the BHS, decided to try to regain access over the field. It took Cornwall Council several months to fully understand the situation, however, once a meaningful dialogue was exchanged they were helpful in reinstating this route for horses and indeed walkers as they too were unable to use it. In total it has taken about 30 years to unblock the right of way.
The moral of this story is to never give up.
Sadly Susan has left this world, though her efforts are evident in the bridleways we have in Polgooth and the surrounding area. A recent conversation with her husband Peter says it all, when he told me how delighted Susan would have been if she knew that this bridleway was finally accessible.
The sights on this stretch are just amazing – with stunning sea and coastal views, even the horses stop to admire it.
Please note that a pleasure environment for riders is a working environment for the landowner/farmer. Keep to the correct route and be aware that livestock might be present.
Written by Gina Harvey.