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Where you can ride

(This section refers only to England and Wales, as legislation is different in Northern Ireland and Scotland)

It is essential that equestrians know the legal basis on which they are using any facility. The normal rules of courtesy and good behaviour should govern our conduct at all times, but where provision has been specially made for equestrians there may be additional rules which have to be obeyed, such as times of access, speed, specific tracks or areas.

There is a right of Open Access on foot over designated land. Riders and carriage drivers can continue to cross such land, which is marked on recent OS maps, on existing rights of way or other highways and to exercise any other pre-existing rights and concessions. Such rights are not affected by any Restriction Order that may apply to the Open Access land. Landowners can 'dedicate' their Open Access land for horse-riding as well as walking.

Where do you have the right to ride or drive?

  • On all roads except motorways
  • On some classes of Public Rights of Way, which are shown on OS maps. They are:
    • Bridleways – you can ride or lead a horse, walk or bicycle on a bridleway. Cyclists must, however, give way to riders and walkers. Motor vehicles driven by the public are not allowed on bridleways, nor are horse-drawn carriages
    • Restricted Byways – are open to all non-mechanically propelled traffic, that is, on foot, horse, cycle and with a horse-drawn carriage, but not with a motor vehicle
    • Byways open to all traffic – open to all users including motor vehicles
  • Designated horse rides in public open spaces
  • Some commons and cycle routes
  • Concessionary or permissive routes
  • Beaches and estuaries (subject to bylaws and conservation restrictions)
  • Agri-Environment Schemes (‘Countryside Stewardship’)
  • Permits and Toll Rides

Footpaths are for walkers only; there is no right to ride or drive on a footpath, but occasionally a footpath may have unrecorded higher rights, in which case you can exercise the higher rights if you know about them, or you may ride on a footpath with the permission from the landowner.

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