On 1 July, HRH The Princess Royal paid visit to a bridleway in Somerset to admire repair and resurfacing works carried out by The British Horse Society (BHS) and Mendip Bridleways & Byways Association (MBBA).
As Vice-Patron of the BHS, HRH The Princess Royal met with those who had been instrumental in the improvements to the bridleway, based near the village of Hemington, Somerset.
Mark Weston, Director of Access for the BHS and Ginnie Jones, Secretary of MBBA guided HRH along the definitive route to discuss the works carried out by the two groups and the importance of protecting our off road network.
MBBA were able to carry out the improvement works following a grant from The British Horse Society’s ‘Paths for Communities’ fund, a fund available to local equestrian groups to help repair and protect routes in their area.
Following the visit, Mark Weston, Director of Access for The British Horse Society said: “It is a privilege to have been able to showcase the hard work of The British Horse Society and Mendip Bridleways and Byways Association. Our off road network is shrinking and horse riders and carriage drivers across the country are being forced to ride on dangerous roads to reach their nearest definitive route. As a keen equestrian herself, it’s fantastic to have been able to discuss with HRH The Princess Royal the importance of protecting safe riding opportunities for the future generation of riders”.
Protecting the off road network is becoming increasingly important due to changes to the law introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. These changes state that any bridleways in England and Wales registered before 1949 will face closure if not formally recorded on the council’s definitive map by January 1 2026.
The British Horse Society is appealing for as many people as possible to look into the history of their local routes to see if they are at risk of closure. For more information on the 2026 deadline and how to help save bridleways in your area please visit www.bhs.org.uk/2026