Hardsough Lane and Iron Gate Lane leading to the village of Irwell Vale, link Edenfield with Helmshore and have been used by horse riders since at least the 1970s, cyclists since the 1980s and by vehicular traffic up to about the 1990s.
The route, which had been incorrectly recorded as a footpath, began being obstructed by a car and was planted with prickly hedges that made it narrower and harder to pass. The obstructions caused difficulties for pedestrians let alone horse riders.
Numerous complaints were made to Lancashire County Council to little avail, and in 2012 our Access & Bridleways Officer Chris Peat, had collected enough evidence, both from current riders and historical map evidence of the route being used by horses. She was now ready to submit a DMMO (definitive map modification order) application to ensure that riders could legally use it for years to come and the obstructions could be dealt with.
Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, this received several objections, so a public inquiry was held in March 2020. In spite of the country being on the verge of lockdown eleven witnesses attended the inquiry to give their evidence.
We eventually got the inspectors decision in September 2020, that in his opinion the evidence pointed to bridleway status, so we can now use the route in the safe knowledge that it legally cannot be obstructed.
Do you think you could provide user evidence to help claim back a route in your area or even better still, check your favourite route is recorded on the definitive map and claim it back if it isn’t? We’ve lots of very useful info on our website to show you how to get started…
Don’t delay, start today, we only have 5 years left to reclaim these routes or we risk them being lost forever. Just because you currently ride on a route doesn’t mean it’s recorded and protected from being removed!