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Local riders raise money to get their Whapple Way bridleway mended

Group picture kindly provided by Jocasta Fearn of users of Wapple Way Bridleway with Hilary Pierce (Chairman) handing over £4,000 cheque to Sophie Coleman (ESCC Rights of Way Officer) on Saturday, 4th September 2010.

Local riders raise money to get their Whapple Way bridleway mended

Mid Sussex Area Bridleways Group have just presented a cheque for £4,000 to East Sussex County Council Rights of Way Officer, Sophie Coleman, to help fund surface repairs on bridleway ‘Wapple Way’ in Westmeston which runs from the B2116 at Black Dog Hill to meet the old Hayleigh Farm droveway.

The bridleway needed urgent repair, having become boggy and impassable – more than one horse had had scarily sticky moments there and a lone Wellington boot was found in the mud when MSABG surveyed the path!

MSABG Chairman, Hilary Pierce, comment, “We are very aware how difficult it is for County Council Rights of Way Officers to secure funding for path maintenance despite the fact that their councils have a legal duty to keep them in usable condition!

Whapple Way bridleway mended"Horse riders tend to play Cinderella in the Rights of Way story, having less than a quarter of paths available to them (the rest being footpaths). Additionally, some bridleways are themselves ‘out of bounds’ to equestrians because of dangerous traffic conditions on the roads leading to them. So it is a matter for rejoicing that we can once again enjoy riding Wapple Way bridleway.”

A County Council Spokesman said: "The Mid-Sussex Area Bridleway Group have played a vital role in enabling us to resurface Wapple Way by raising funds to help pay for the work. This has helped us to make the bridleway safer and easier to use for horse riders, cyclists and walkers and is a great example of how partnership working can help local communities."

Rights of Way paths throughout both East and West Sussex never have enough money allocated from council funds to keep them all in good repair. MSABG took matters into their own hands, raising money from:

  • Local users (ranging from children donating £3 pocket money to some very generous individual donations)
  • MSABG fund raising events – Disco Evenings (with generous raffle prizes from local businesses) and selling Strawberries and Cream at Wivelsfield Village Day
  • Obtaining donations from The Turner Dumbrill foundation, Harveys Brewery and Evans Cycles (who use Wapple Way for their cycling events)

The fantastic amount raised illustrates just how much everyone needed the bridleway to be back in repair and fully functioning.

  • The bridleway links with the Westmeston Jubilee Pathway Trust’s ‘new’ path alongside the B2116 to Ditchling
  • There are around 200 horses kept within easy riding distance of the path
  • A Whapple road or way, in old Sussex dialect, described a track that could not be used by carts and carriages. It was often accessed through a narrow Whapple Gate to prevent wheeled access. Essential goods and services, principally food, the doctor and the priest could be transported on horseback on these paths even when wheeled vehicles had destroyed other highways in the wet winter months.

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