Equestrian: Following the right path
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Keeping routes open to horses is key to the safety of riders and the accessibility of the countryside. The British Horse Society outlines the sources of information available to check public rights of way
The British Horse Society has a dedicated equestrian access department that has an army of volunteers across Britain who work tirelessly to create, protect and maintain the UK’s network of equestrian routes. For riding in Hertfordshire and beyond, there are three main sources of reliable information to use when searching for routes:
Your local BHS-affiliated equestrian access group
The BHS currently has 124 affiliated equestrian access groups spread across England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, all of whom work to defend, extend and promote equestrian access. They will have a good knowledge of routes in the area. In Hertfordshire, the local groups are Patchetts Green Bridleway Trust, which focuses on Hertsmere but also beyond (contact Sue Harrington at email@example.com), and the Jasmine Safety Track Trust around Dacorum (contact Carol Hannah on 01442 833152). If you are interested in forming a group, get in touch with the BHS directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Definitive Map forms the legal record of public rights of way in England and Wales. The map is kept by highway authorities (in Herts, Hertfordshire County Council) and can be viewed at County Hall, district and parish council offices and local libraries or online at the county council website hertsdirect.org
Further information about the map can be found at hertsdirect.org/rowapps or by contacting the Rights of Way Service on 0300 123 4047.
The map shows footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways. Riding is permitted on all these routes, except footpaths, where you need permission of the landowner to do so.
Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 or 1:50,000 scale maps (UK wide)
The information from the Definitive Map is shown on Ordnance Survey maps. It is easiest to follow equestrian routes on the 1:25,000 scale Explorer maps (orange covers) because they show field boundaries.
View the most recent OS mapping online with OS OpenMap or at streetmap.co.uk. Hard copies of OS maps can be bought from many websites and bookshops or they can be viewed for free at most local libraries. Remember that any map may not be completely up to date.
Once you’ve found the route you want to take, check that you do have the right to ride or drive there – you may ride on all roads except motorways. Very minor roads may not obviously be public. If you are not sure, contact the highway authority to check. You may also ride on public rights of way shown on the Definitive Map and OS maps (except footpaths) such as bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic. For further details on any of the above, download the free Finding Places to Ride and Carriage Drive leaflet from bhs.org.uk or contact the east of England BHS regional access and bridleways officer Alison Balfour-Lynn on 07778 517486 or email@example.com