A bridleway in Hampshire was reopened on Monday after extensive work was completed, in a collaborative project funded by The British Horse Society (BHS), Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund and several local organisations.
Bridleway 504, which stretches from Binsted and Kingsley to Frithend, was reopened to the local community in an official ceremony Monday 12 July, enabling horse riders, cyclists, and walkers in the area to benefit from this safe, off-road route. With access to the bridleway now restored, users can avoid hazardous alternative routes many were forced to take, including the B3004, a road heavily used by HGVs. The work has helped to connect more than 50 miles of route including the historic Shipwright’s Way and Alice Holt Forest.
Through substantial grants from the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund, crucial maintenance work had been underway since mid-April to ensure the previously unusable and dangerous bridleway can be enjoyed once again by all local users. A total of £77,438 was put forward for the project, £50,000 of which was generously granted by Tarmac through the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund. The remaining funds were secured from the BHS Ride Out Fund, Binsted Parish Council, South Downs National Park, Hampshire County Council, BHS local Hampshire Committee and the local Ramblers committee.
The bridleway was considered nearly impassable earlier this year, due to deep mud and flooded ditches caused by inadequate drainage, as well as blockages from dilapidated barbed wire fences and overgrown vegetation. Over time it had drastically deteriorated, and the ground had formed large crevices, making it extremely dangerous or even impossible for users, and especially equestrians, to pass without injury.
Tracy Casstles, Director of Fundraising at The British Horse Society said: “We are thrilled that work on the bridleway has been completed and local equestrians, cyclists and walkers can now use this route. It’s been very exciting to follow the progress of the transformation. We are delighted to have been able to contribute to this project through the BHS’s Ride Out Fund, which provides funding for projects to open and enable safe off-road equestrian access.”
Scott Brealey, South West area operations manager at Tarmac, said: "We are delighted to have been able to support the British Horse Society with restoring the bridleway, ensuring it is now safe for local horse riders, walkers and cyclists.
"We would like to congratulate the British Horse Society on the project and all the hard work that has gone in to making it a success."
AJ Barlow, Chair of Alton Ramblers Group said: “Alton Ramblers Group are delighted to help to see this bridleway repair completed and for it to be newly enjoyed by walkers and riders alike. We hope the community coming together to contribute has ensured this path will be used and enjoyed by everyone.”
Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage and Rural Affairs, said: “Hampshire County Council looks after 4,600km of footpaths, bridleways and other rights of way. It’s a priority for our countryside team to help preserve these precious assets for all users to enjoy safely. We are delighted to have contributed grant funding and officer support to this project to restore a beautiful stretch of bridleway in east Hampshire. This is a fantastic example of people and organisations coming together with a shared mission which has restored a much loved right of way.”
With the UK’s roads becoming increasingly dangerous and with the 2026 deadline, by which routes such as this must be recorded on the definitive map or they may be lost, threatening many rights of way, it’s vital that people have a safe network of off-road routes to use. The BHS are dedicated to enhancing and maintaining the UK’s equestrian access network, ensuring horse riders and carriage drivers can benefit from safe off-road routes.