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Planning a route

If you’re venturing out riding or carriage driving, you should know where you can go, and what your rights and responsibilities are for where you live.

  • Last reviewed: 8th July 2022
Access Forest Ride Janet Pamment Access Forest Ride Janet Pamment

Where can I go riding off-road? - One of the most frequently asked questions, and one that is important to know the answer to.

Know your rights of way

Please note this section refers only to England, Wales, and in part, Northern Ireland.  

It is essential to know where you can legally ride and carriage drive: 

  • All roads except motorways 
  • Some classes of Public Rights of Way, as shown on Ordnance Survey maps:

 

Walkers 

Cyclists 

Horse Riders 

Horse Drawn Vehicles 

Motor Vehicles 

Footpaths 

✓ 

 

 

 

 

Bridleways 

✓ 

✓ *

✓ 

 

 

Restricted Byways 

✓ 

✓ 

✓ 

✓ 

 

Byways Open To All Traffic (BOATs) 

✓ 

✓ 

✓ 

✓ 

✓ 

* Cyclists should give way to horse riders and walkers on a bridleway 

 

  • Some commons and cycle routes 
  • Designated horse rides in public open spaces 
  • Concessionary or permissive routes 
  • Beaches and estuaries (subject to bylaws and conservation restrictions) 
  • Agri-environment schemes (‘Countryside Stewardship’) 
  • Permits and toll rides 

Where to find a route

BHS National Equestrian Route Network

The British Horse Society National Equestrian Route Network has many short and long-distance routes available for free. The routes were correct at time of publication, however we recommend the routes are checked before riding or carriage driving. The routes are kept at the standard the local authority can afford.

The Definitive Map

The Definitive Map forms the legal record of public rights of way in England and Wales. 

  • Kept by highway authorities (county councils or unitary authorities) 
  • Can be viewed online and at the Map Holder’s office (check availability with the authority) 
  • Shows footpaths, bridleways, restricted byway and byways 

You can find the Definitive Map by searching online for your county and “Definitive Map”. Local authorities may list other routes on their website, as well as the Definitive Map.  

Ordnance Survey Maps

Ordnance Survey (OS) maps will show the routes as per the Definitive Map and are available UK wide. 

  • Hard copy - OS Maps can be purchased from various retailers, or sometimes can be viewed or borrowed from your local library 
  • Online – View the online OS Map on OS OpenMap or www.streetmap.co.uk, or visit www.bing.com/maps and select “Ordnance Survey” on the right-hand side.  
  • Mobile app – download the OS Maps app to plan your routes.  

TIP: Promoted routes are shown using diamonds on Ordnance Survey maps. They are usually more than a day’s ride, ideal for a holiday with your horse.

Does the scale of the map matter? 

Yes! The OS map scales we recommend are…

  • 1:25,000 – easiest to follow equestrian routes on the Explorer maps (orange covers). Explorer maps show the field boundaries. 
  • 1:50,000 

Remember that any map may not be completely up to date as more recent changes to the Definitive Map may not yet be included. Unrecorded routes are also not shown on OS maps.   

BHS committees and volunteers

We have more than 300 Access & Bridleways Officers who have a great knowledge of local rights of way and places to go with your horse. Get in touch with your local BHS committee if you’d like to speak to a member of our volunteer team about where to ride and carriage drive in your region.

BHS-affiliated Equestrian Access Groups

BHS Equestrian Access Groups (EAGs) work to defend, extend and promote equestrian access in their area. Based across the UK, EAG members will have a good local knowledge of routes in their area.  

Find your local EAG.

Equestrian Mapping

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