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Advice on bridleways and other access

All the advice on this page is for access and rights of way in England and Wales. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is very different so for advice on access in those countries, see Northern Ireland or Scotland.

  • Last reviewed: 8th April 2024

Advice notes

Advice notes are checked at least once a year. If you have an advice note which is not listed here, it will have been superseded or renamed. If you cannot find the topic, contact access@bhs.org.uk (or phone 02476 840515). Please also contact the Access team for any topic not covered.

Councils or contractors are most likely to find help under Structures and surfaces.

Riding out
What you may find on bridleways and byways
Researching and recording bridleways and byways
Changes to bridleways
Structures and surfaces

Most of the advice here is aimed at councils and others responsible for maintenance and provision of equestrian access. It is generalised advice, which may differ for specific sites, so please contact the BHS for further guidance if required. Items in order of most popular.

Surfaces

  1. Surfaces (general advice) | Apr-24
  2. Bridges, fords, gradients and steps | Feb-24
  3. Bound aggregate-rubbercrumb compound surface | Feb-24
  4. Cattle grids | Nov-22

Structures

Including horses

Other factors affecting horses

Lobbying and political activity

The Society represents equestrians nationally about public rights of way and access. This means engagement with government business through various stakeholder groups and bodies such as Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, Forestry England and highways agencies. It includes lobbying ministers where appropriate and asking for questions in Parliament.

Letters to Ministers & Stakeholders
Template letters for you to send to your MP

Bridleways and byways are recorded, with footpaths, on formal documents called the Definitive Map and Statement, created and maintained by each county council. Many ancient bridleways and byways are not shown on the maps, but they can be added if evidence of an unrecorded right is collected and submitted.

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 included a clause to end such submissions to add unrecorded historical rights of way on 1 January 2026. This created a huge task for organisations like the BHS which have worked very hard to research missing routes and make applications to record them. At the same time, the Society has continued to argue that the task has not been given the support promised by government and the clause should not be commenced. In February 2022, the government declared that they would repeal the clause, however, that has not happened and the clock is still ticking towards 2026. Below is a template letter which you may wish to edit to send to your MP in support of repeal of the cut-off date.

Be sure about bridleways

Learn more about bridleways and byways on our training days

You can help with our important work to defend bridleways and byways and to ensure equestrians are considered as vulnerable road users and included in all provisions for safe access, on and off road. Find out more about your rights and how to help by joining one of our virtual training days. All you need are a few hours and an internet connection.

Access and rights of way training
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