Losing and finding bridleways !!
The BHS have got a massive project ongoing to make sure bridleways are properly recorded so that they are not lost forever and so old routes and bridleways can be ‘reclaimed’.
The background to this is : After the 2nd World War Parish councils were tasked by the government with recording all the rights of way in their parish and putting them on the new County Council definitive map for each area.
However some rights of way (RoW) were missed off for a variety of reasons e.g. landowner did not want the footpath across their land recorded, the RoW was recorded as footpath (a lesser status path) instead of a bridleway, or those tasked with the recording the routes i.e. cub scouts were not trained how to do it and the paths were not recorded correctly etc…
We still have the right to ask for these missed off Rights of Way to be included and bridleways reinstated on the County definitive map up to 2026
But it’s a case of we either RECORD IT OR LOSE IT.
You can do your bit to help ‘reclaim’ a better bridleway network for riders .
Start by checking the routes you ride are recorded as bridleways on the County Council definitive maps.
THE DEFINITIVE MAP IS MORE IMPORTANT AND SITS ABOVE (in Law) ANY OTHER MAPS OF THE AREA i..e the Ordnance Survey OS Map.
If a route it not recorded on the definitive map by 2026 (even if it shown on an OS map) this route may no longer be available for you to ride in the future.
If you find anything you ride that’s either unrecorded, or recorded as a footpath, then that’s the starting point to make sure this route is not lost for fellow riders , additionally if there are routes that look like they should be bridleways/byways – either on the ground, i.e. it’s a ruddy great cart track, but is on the map as a footpath; or on the map i.e. there’s a bit where a bridleway turns in to a footpath turns in to a bridleway again, giving a hint the footpath section really should likely be a bridleway again. time to get to work!
Our local definitive maps can be found at :
If you do have a route you feel is not recorded properly or can be reclaimed then a Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) will need to be applied for to the County Council to claim these routes, but there is a good chance of success if you can show they were on previous historical maps* and there are grants from the BHS to help with any costs incurred plus there is lots of guidance on BHS website access page on how to look up historical maps & what to check for.
*link to historical maps http://www.oldmapsonline.org/map/nls/101572060
It is massively important we check that the routes we ride are properly recorded on the overarching government definitive map. (Not just the OS).
To do your bit. ..The BHS are looking for volunteers to help research and record missing routes and their website page on access has lots of information about recording Rights of Ways etc. They also have a map recording system called Dobbin on which you can plot any suspected routes you need to investigate and check if someone is already investigating it.
Other interesting facts :
HORSES ARE ENTITLED TO USE THE HIGHWAY SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL 1189. The Highway comprises the carriageway and the grass verge.
Grass verges are contentious but the message is clear -if it forms part of the highway you can ride on it.
If there is damage to the verge or it has been encroached upon by a landowner or resident you can report it on OCC website -see further down the page.
There is lots of information about verges and other access advice on the BHS access page www.bhs.org.uk/our-work/access