The Byways and Bridleways Trust Journey for Access 2016
– also supported by the BHS
Check this out!
Catriona Cook of BBT and her team have set out on another of their epic journeys on horseback to raise awareness of the 2026 ‘Cut-off date’ and the poor condition of our bridleways. This year they are travelling over Dartmoor, through Devon, Dorset and Hampshire. Follow daily reports of their experiences on the BBT website.
Although there are clearly beautiful and inspiring stretches of bridleway and byway, the most striking thing about attempting a journey on horseback in 2016, is the dismal provision of a safe, joined up network for equestrians. So far, they have encountered every sort of obstruction, many caused by poor maintenance but others are flagrantly deliberate.
Sadly this is all too familiar. What a feckless way to manage such a wonderful and historic national infrastructure asset.
If you are able, please donate to their access fund. All money raised will go to BBT and BHS legal funds to support your bridleway claims.
PREPARING FOR THE CUT-OFF DATE 2026
Bradford Council and members of the Bradford Local Access Forum attended a Parish Councils’ Liaison meeting in January, to draw their attention to the need to make sure all their public paths are properly recorded by 1st January 2026.
With only 9 years to left, there are areas in district (the old Borough of Bradford and part of Keighley) without a Definitive Map. There is also a large backlog of apparent anomalies.
The South Pennine Packhorse Trails Trust gave a presentation on how historical research can help to achieve this. Although the Council is currently preparing its own report on how they plan to meet the deadline, we believe that a systematic approach is needed and individual Parish Councils and communities can help with this task by checking their own path network against the historical documents.
You can download it here:
Welcome to the South Pennine Packhorse Trails Trust website for Wharfedale and Airedale. We aim to provide information and support to anyone interested in improving our local rights of way network. The Trust researches the historical documentary evidence often needed to support rights of way. Although we have a particular interest in historic bridleways and packhorse trails, we are equally happy to help walkers and cyclists.
Our Area: is centred on the Bradford Metropolitan District. But, because recreational riding does not simply stop at local authority boundaries, it includes parts of North Yorkshire, Harrogate and Leeds. We are also working with other established bridleway groups across council borders.
Why is the research needed? Whether you are aware of it or not, a large proportion of the paths and tracks that are currently being used by the public have no legal protection. Some paths have not been recorded at all and many bridleways have been under-recorded as footpaths on the councils’ legal record of rights of way. The are historic problems which can be difficult to resolve.
Why now? At present, the principle of ‘once a highway always a highway’ which is enshrined in English Common Law, allows you to walk or ride along these under-recorded footpaths and bridleways without committing an offence. But the Deregulation Act 2015 has now changed the procedures affecting rights of way, and any unrecorded routes (where claims are based on historical documentary evidence) will be extinguished on 1 January 2026 (the cut-off date).
There is a real risk of the public (especially riders and cyclists) being left with a much reduced network of available paths.
How you can help. At present new paths can be added, or their status upgraded to bridleway or restricted byway status on the Definitive Map, if evidence is produced to show that is appropriate. The evidence required is either long use on foot or horseback or historical documentary evidence. A combination of the two kinds of evidence generally makes the strongest case. You can find out how to quickly check this on our Rights of Way page.
We are also working with the Wharfedale and Airedale Horse Riding Organisation,(WHOA), a community action group for riders and cyclists. You can join them on Facebook.
WHOA has been formed just over 3 years now and has a membership of over 100 people working together to campaign for a better bridleway network.
- liaising with highway authorities: about traffic speeds and dangerous road crossings.
- responding to planning applications: where they threaten the quality of our network.
- and, attend Local Access Forum Meetings.
If you are interested in finding out more about improving access for horse riders, Making Ways for Horses, compiled by the Equestrian Access Forum, outlines the challenges we face and includes suggestions to help restore our network. J9413 BHS Making Ways For Horses v10