Our Ridden Paths
Definitive Bridleways only provide a proportion of the paths we ride. The situation does vary from county to county. Howver many do not connect from road to road or to another bridleway. Many may deliver you onto a farm lane over which there is no recorded right of way. Many deliver you onto a public footpath or mysteriously change into a definitive footpath with no physical indication. Often this is where the path crosses a parish boundary.
Most of us ride many such paths and tracks that are not bridleways. They are often essential to complete that circular ride or enable a busy road to be crossed.
On many of these non-definitive paths and definitive footpaths there undoubtedly unrecorded rights of way. See Rights of Way.
Most of these paths are ridden without problem. Unless you look closely at the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map you will not be aware they are not bridleways.
Is there a problem with such paths?
Whilst you are using them without problem there is no problem. However there is a possibility that you may be stopped from using them at any time.
Further the governments Discovering Lost Ways Project was going to put many of these onto the definitive map. But £4M later it has failed to acheive anything and has been abandonned but they have still not abandoned the 2026 deadline when all claims using pre 1949 historic evidence will be lost.
Many properties and farms are being sold. New owners unaware of the historic use of the paths will have been assured on purchase that there are no rights of way, or no rights of way for horses, along the path which is on their property or to which there property adjoins. Hence when they see you on your horse they will often challenge you and say that you are not allowed to ride through. Unfortunately they are often in their rights to do so until you can prove in law that there are unrecorded rights of way along the path. See Rights of Way
What can be done?
1. Let us know the routes you ride - email@example.com for details
2. If you are challenged on riding a particular path or track that is not a definitive bridleway, but which you believe has always been ridden without problem:
i. Inform your County BHS Access Officers
ii. Find out if other riders in your area have ridden the path and over how many years.
iii. Consider preparing a Modification Order to have the path recorded on the definitive map as a bridleway. This process does require sufficient evidence to prove that the path has been used without hinderence over a 20 year period.
Also See How Can You Help?