On Wednesday 1 June, members the British Horse Society’s Wiltshire Committee gathered on Scratchbury Hill Fort and afterwards at the Angel in Heytesbury to present Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Nigel Linge with a BHS Access Award for significantly improving the opportunities for horse riding on Salisbury Plain.
“The Plain used to offer leisure users what can only be described as a fractured, confusing, and often out-of-bounds network of rights of way for riders, cyclists, walkers and green laners alike. As a result of Nigel’s hard work over the past 8 years, we can all now enjoy the interlinked, well-signed rights of way network of bridleways, restricted byways, byways and permissive tracks” explains BHS Wiltshire Chairman, Graham Bennett.
Nigel led Project Ubique (Everywhere), which was initiated by the MOD in 2008 when they realised that ‘Keep Out’ signs were being ignored by walkers, riders and off-roaders, and that the risk to the public from unexploded ordnance was considerable. Rights of way were ill-marked, and users were not being safely separated from arms and armour.
Putting this right, and improving access to the Plain, involved considerable revision to existing rights of way across much of the Plain. This revision was led and driven forward by Lt. Colonel Linge over a period of 8 years, with great attention being paid to the needs of horse riders, cyclists and walkers. Of particular note is the 36-mile round route to the west of the Plain - The Imber Perimeter Path - much of which was at the outset of the Project only a footpath. This is now nearing completion as a fully rideable route.
Under Colonel Linge’s leadership, and with the constant support of the MOD, Project Ubique has been very much a partnership achievement between the MOD, Wiltshire Council, Tread Lightly, BHS Wiltshire Access volunteers and Wiltshire Bridleways Association.
To date Project Ubique has inserted repaired or replaced 860 rights of way signs and way marks, resolved 24 outstanding rights of way claims, achieved 36 diversions onto well defined and sustainable routes and on completion of the Imber Path, Project Ubique will concentrate on the few remaining issues on Salisbury Plain (East).
“We look forward hugely to working with everyone involved on the east side of the Plain as this project continues” commented BHS Chairman Graham Bennett.
More photos from the day
The BHS Access Awards were created in 2000 to enable the public recognition of people or organisations who have made significant contributions to improving or promoting equestrian access by, for example, reopening obstructed rights of way, creating new routes through historical evidence and/or creating safe haven routes which take horses and riders off the roads.
The Imber Perimeter Path is a long-distance circular route which follows the perimeters of Salisbury Plain running, in the south, from (essentially) Warminster to Heytesbury and thence to Knook, Chitterne and over to Tilshead. The route over the northern edge of the Plain runs from Warminster to Westbury and from thence to Erlestoke and West Lavington before linking up again with the southern section in Tilshead.
Prominent points of interest on the route include:
(1) The impressive Iron Age Hillfort of Battlesbury, Bratton Iron Age Hill Fort and that of Scratchbury;
(2) The White Horse carved into the hillside at Westbury dating from 1778;
(3) Superb views across Salisbury Plain and the surrounding Wiltshire countryside as well as views into adjoining counties.
It is important that those using the route follow the Imber Range Perimeter Path symbols at all times and comply with the Byelaws which are displayed prominently on the Range Warning Noticeboards at numerous points on the route.
No public access is allowed to the Imber Live Firing Range Area. Sections of the route follow the edge of this area. Care should be taken throughout to follow the defined route and not to go into the Live Firing Range Area.