Impossible riding conditions in Shropshire
We moved to our current home because on the OS map it looks as there are lots of lovely off road bridleways.However, in reality, of perhaps a dozen or so supposedly within 5 miles of the house we have found only 1 grass track to be passable. There are virtually no public bridleway signs and some supposed routes we cannot even find the entrance to.
The rest there are various reasons why they can't be used at all or are very unattractive: - strings tied across access point, locked gates, electric fencing, including a 'track' left along a field edge just about three feet wide with live electric alongside - impossible to even get through the closed gate and turn to shut it again, rampaging bullocks (OK path to be avoided when in there but annoying!), impassable crops such as corn with no through route left, bottomless going, chin high grass weeds and brambles hiding massive holes and debris....and so on.
I am desperate to gather photo evidence and submit to ....who? .....to get this sorted out but I work doubly full time and I am struggling! Amazingly other riders living near me seem totally ignorant that there should be paths available to them!
However, I have now hesitated to even try to resolve this as a farmer friend advised recently that if a path has not been used - and definite evidence of the use exist - for two continuous years, then it can legitimately and permanently be closed. This seems like complete nonsense. Clearly generations come and go and there could easily be periods when there would be no one wanting to use a bridle path - but why should that mean it be closed for ever? Furthermore, if a landowner deliberately blocks a route, then obviously it can't be used! Bit catch 22 there!
It seems to me that there is considerable prejudice against horse riders and I wonder, has any group ever thought to pursue this perhaps as high as the court of human rights? Footpaths are jealously guarded often to the point of ridiculousness in the opposite extreme, yet nothing seems to happen overly much with regard to bridleways. It seems we are a threatened minority - is there not some route to protection as such. On the other hand there are thousands of horse owners - is it not time a stand was made on this issue once and for all? In my experience (I am 52 now and have ridden ion various parts of the country) it is getting worse. Soon there will be no safe off road hacking except in a few very select places. We need to stand up and be counted NOW!!
Personally in my painfully slow and thus far utterly unproductive one person campaign, I feel disheartened and powerless and though I am no shrinking violet, I also feel somewhat daunted at the prospect of having to challenge what, after all, are my neighbours and fellow community members. It should not be reliant on the efforts of an individual in this way. With so little time available to me, and forced to walk these routes to gain evidence (when clearly what I want in what little pleasure time I have is to be riding!) I can well see why folk just give up and move! The fact is that none of us really have time to do anything about this - but the implication for the future of horse riding pleasure is dire if we don't.
Anyway enough ranting - Before I do get myself off to scour definitive maps and begin my more active campaign that is clearly going to make me no friends in my neighbourhood - can you clarify the situation re disuse and legitimate closure please?
Says Bob Milton:
The issue of animals on a public right of way is governed by the Animals Act 1971 and recent case law. Your Farmer friend needs to get better advice from the NFU as it is still once a highway always a highway.
Two years ago I was on holiday in Shropshire and found a number of rights of way issues such as wired gates and obstructed bridleways. So I do understand. Attached are two from my trip
Good luck and please keep me informed as to how you get on
Says Gemma Price:
Countryside Access Support Officer, Countryside Access Team, Shropshire Council Tel: 0345 678 9000 Email: email@example.com
Dear Bob Milton
Thank you for forwarding us this email with regards to blocked Bridleways originally sent to you by Linda.
Unfortunately due to the information provided we are unable to locate the exact issues, if you could please supply us with either Bridleway numbers or Grid references we can then locate the issues and look to solve these making riding/ walking easier for all. I can see that there are various issues around this area but we will need a breakdown of what is where e.g grid reference or bridleway number and the issue that is at this point.
I appreciate it can be difficult to get this information but our website, www.shropshire.gov.uk, does have a map option which shows all Rights of Way across the County please see link http://shropshire.gov.uk/maps/default.htm.
This will provide you with the path numbers if you click on the Right of Way (shown by the key under Rights of Way) with the 'i' tool for information.
If you could send us this information it would be much appreciated and we can look to log these issues for you.
Says Bob Milton
The reference to my photos around Wilderhope Manor are 0554/ 211;249;and 248 which are from the Shropshire map [www.shropshire.gov.uk/maps/default.htm with rights of way turned on]
It is as you said extremely hard to find as there is no reference to rights of way maps on the Shropshire website.
As for Linda’s problems I do not have any details perhaps she can email you direct with a copy to me.
Are you having problems riding in Shropshire ?
The more we know, the more we can help one another