Long Mynd & District Bridleways Association are affiliated to the BHS as an Equestrian Access Group. They have kindly agreed to share their knowledge and top tips for bridleway clearances.
Long Mynd & District Bridleways Association undertake clearances as a BW group, but as a registered Parish Paths Partnership (P3) we can perform more complicated tasks in association with Shropshire Council, who usually provide materials (example gates and posts) as well as working on site with a ROW Officer.
- To avoid confrontation and encourage goodwill, inform the landowner you will be undertaking the work.
- Carry out a detailed recce to determine what type of work is required and how many people are needed. If there are too many volunteers, they may feel redundant - but you can always take it in turns to chat ...
- Locate a meeting place where there is sufficient parking and ensure cars will not obstruct any access that may be needed by local people.
- Make it clear to participants that they may have to walk to the work site and what the terrain is like.
- Find someone willing to bake an inexhaustible supply of cake. It certainly helps!
- Wear plenty of clothes, the scruffier the better. You will get scratched, dirty and muddy. Better to look as if you have been through a hedge backwards before you start.
- Gloves that cover wrists, or gauntlets if they are not too cumbersome.
- No bare arms. You will get stung by nettles and scratched by brambles.
- Don't take on too much - installing gates and posts can be hard work and needs a certain amount of expertise.
- Be prepared to work in areas you don’t necessarily ride.
- Frequent tea breaks and a lunch break if it’s a long job. Don’t forget to tell workers to bring their own food and drink.
- Well trained machinery operators. Shropshire Council has provided training in the use of brushcutters and chainsaws.
- Share the digging and send the smallest down the hole - or the least popular!
- Dogs are usually welcome but be mindful of landowners/stock (and keep them away from brushcutters if you prefer them to have four legs).
- Make sure you have sufficient and suitable tools. Some tools may be supplied if working with the Council. If funds are available, build up a stock of loppers, saws, brushcutters, etc.
- Work out a system of keeping tabs on their whereabouts.
- Don't stay out too long in bad weather otherwise your party will be smaller the next time.
- Each person has a favourite task. Take advantage of it.
- Have fun!
You can find out more information about becoming a BHS Affiliated Equestrian Access Group here