Finding a route
If you move into a new area or buy your first horse you will need to find where you can ride or drive safely off-road. You may also decide you want to become involved in improving safe off-road equestrian access in your area.
The Definitive Map
The Definitive Map forms the legal record of public rights of way in England and Wales. The Map is kept by highway authorities (county councils or unitary authorities) and can be viewed at their office or on council websites if available. The Map shows footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways. Riding is permitted on all except footpaths, which may be ridden with the permission of the landowner.
Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 scale maps (UK wide)
The information from the Definitive Map is shown on Ordnance Survey maps. It is easiest to follow equestrian routes on the 1:25,000 scale Explorer maps (orange covers) because they show field boundaries. View the most recent OS mapping online with OS OpenMap or www.streetmap.co.uk. Hard copies of OS maps can be bought from many websites, bookshops, stationers or outdoor shops, or they can be viewed for free at most local libraries. Remember that any map may not be completely up-to-date as more recent changes to the Definitive Map may not yet be included.
Alternatively you can view OS maps on a laptop or PC by visiting www.bing.com/maps and clicking the road icon on the right hand side and choosing 'Ordnance Survey'. Ensure your screen is expanded and zoom in to see the markings showing public rights of way, you will need to understand what the different markings mean which you can do easily by searching for 'OS Map Key' in your browser.
Your local BHS Affiliated Equestrian Access Group (UK wide)
The BHS currently has more than 100 affiliated Equestrian Access Groups spread across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all of whom work to defend, extend and promote equestrian access in their areas. They are likely to have a good knowledge of routes in their area. Find out if there is one near you by visiting bhs.org.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in forming a group.
Local Authority websites
Some local authorities publish riding routes and their promoted routes are shown using diamonds on Ordnance Survey maps. Promoted routes are usually more than a day’s ride, so they are great for a holiday. Riding each day to a new destination is a very different experience from returning to your yard after each ride. Promoted routes are ideal for a first adventure as there are often B&Bs for both you and your horse along the way – you can find a list of BHS approved Horses Welcome B&Bs here.