Snelsmore Common is a nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), so riders are asked to keep to the defined paths to avoid disturbing wildlife and damaging the flora. Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) recognised the historic recreational horse riding rights which exist on the Common, which is just north of Newbury, after they had been neglected in previous years. BBOWT recently took over the management of several West Berkshire Commons from West Berkshire Council and conducted a thorough access audit for each one.
This allowed the British Horse Society's Access & Bridleways Officer for West Berkshire, Janice Bridger, to present the legal evidence for recreational horse riding rights on the Common. Horse riders can now use the informal paths to give short, circular off-road rides. BBOWT has also removed the vehicle height barrier at the entrance of the car park which allows horse boxes and trailers to park there. Removal of the height restrictor to the car park complied with the West Berks Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP objective 44). The car park provides an excellent starting point for a lovely circular ride to the pretty village of Bagnor which is on the BHS-promoted Three Downs Link path. Details of which can be found on the BHS Website.
The BHS hopes to work further with BBOWT to improve some of the bridleway gates onto the Common, taking into account the recent report on self-closing bridleway gates from Natural England, and to create a new link path which will help local riders access the Common and provide an alternative to part of the Three Downs Link that is on an increasingly busy road.
BBOWT has already shown an appreciation of the needs of horse riders by re-siting a gate onto Crookham Common.
Further information about the access work of the BHS can be found on the Access and Bridleways section of the BHS Website.
Further information about BBOWT and the many sites it manages in Berks, Bucks & Oxon can be found on the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust Website.