Keeping paths open for horse riding in Hertfordshire
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
The British Horse Society’s Paths for Communities fund, supported by a Ride Out UK project this month, is helping to maintain rights of way and increase access to the county’s countryside and beyond
Hertfordshire has a rich selection of beautiful parks, woodlands and waterways to explore, from scenic views while navigating the Grand Union Canal in Berkhamsted to the county’s only National Nature Reserve, Broxbourne Woods.
There’s plenty of green space throughout Herts to explore but bridleways and byways for horse riders only make up 30 per cent of the rights of way network in the county, while walkers can access all of it.
To keep these valuable multi-use routes open, the British Horse Society pledged £25,000 in 2015 to fund route repair projects and the creation of new multi-use routes across the UK. Since its inception, the charity has received 32 applications to the Paths for Communities fund and committed almost £20,000 to restore and extend off-road routes for walkers, cyclists and riders to enjoy together, including the creation of five new routes – one being in Hertfordshire.
Five hundred pounds was donated to create a new bridleway over a mile long in Northaw, to take vulnerable users off a busy stretch of road. The route also joins two existing bridleways together, producing a safe circular route under a canopy of trees. A further eight applications are pending approval across the UK, including three in Hertfordshire.
BHS chief executive Lynn Petersen said there had been a fantastic response to the Paths for Communities project. She added, ‘We are committed to supporting projects which increase safe off-road routes. This special fund allows us to secure existing routes for future generations and improve and extend access wherever possible.’
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To encourage people to saddle up and explore scenic routes by going out on a hack on the off-road network, the British Horse Society hosts Ride Out UK Month in May. Events organised by BHS volunteers, approved centres, riding clubs and affiliated equestrian groups are available across the UK and raise funds for the Paths for Communities fund to go back into the community. Last year, more than 80 events took place raising over £8,200. This year the society has collaborated with the National Trust to expand the event to estates across the UK.
To find an event near you, including the Hodgemoor Woods pleasure ride in neighbouring Cambridgeshire, visit bhs.org.uk/bhs-in-your-area
Having a diverse usable rights of way network enriches an area so, next time you’re walking, riding or cycling, on say the bridleways in Heartwood Forest or Sherrardspark Wood, keep an eye out for opportunities to repair or extend the rights of way network and contact the British Horse Society with your comments.