On the 31st July 2019 Restricted Byway signs were erected on Wolsingham South Moor, County Durham after almost three decades of deliberation.
In 1992, applications to modify the Definitive Map and Statement based on inclosure award evidence were submitted by the Trail Riders Fellowship to Durham County Council. The final outcome is a 5-mile Restricted Byway named ‘New Middleton Lane’ across the grouse moor, and a connecting 3.5-mile Restricted Byway leading from the popular Hamsterley Forest, Durham.
During the past 27 years there have been two Public Inquiries regarding the historic routes. At the first in 1998, Sue Rogers, who is now North Region BHS Regional Access and Bridleway Officer (RABO), had just began her access volunteering for The British Horse Society and spoke in her capacity as County Access Bridleway Officer (CABO) for Durham.
“I was terrified; it was my first appearance at such an occasion,” said Sue. “Once it was taken to high court I never believed that the case would see the light of day - thank goodness I was wrong. It is a wonderful area to ride over so it is great that future generations will be able to enjoy long rides there for years to come”.
Two CABOs later, Marilyn Gibson wrote letters of support for these routes as did many others, including cyclists and walkers. By this time, the applications had changed from Byways Open to All Traffic to Restricted Byways due of the impact of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.
Over the years, many people have been involved with these particular routes, which were still facing outstanding objections earlier in 2019, but Durham County Council were determined to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.
“We had an excellent day trying out the routes, the result of hard work by the research team and the DCC ROW officers working together – true team work”, said Sylvia Briggs, Access and Bridleway Officer for Weardale, Teesdale, Wear Valley and Darlington.
This modification order has been possible thanks to Durham County Council, and in particular Audrey Christie and Nick Howell for negotiating with the land owner’s agent to agree the line of the routes, and the countless others involved over the 27 years.