Equestrians – have your say in the Blackdown Hills

Every five years, the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team create a Management Plan to help guide the work and activities of all organisations, groups and individuals with a responsibility or interest in the Blackdown Hills.

You can read about the current management plan on the website: https://blackdownhillsaonb.org.uk/our-work/management-plan/

Please Click here to complete the questionnaire to say what you would like for equestrians in the Blackdown Hills.

Blackdown Hills east Devon countryside view from East Hill near Ottery St Mary an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Temporary Bridleway Closure – Combe St. Nicholas to Donyatt

The bridleway, Forest Lane and Brooms Lane, path numbers CH 7/22 and CH 11/14, which runs from Combe St. Nicholas to Donyatt, has become impassable due to overgrowth of brambles, poaching around the stream crossing, and a very awkward gate.

We have agreed with the area warden that she is going to close the path until the autumn.  As the path will be officially closed, it places it high up the queue for remedial works.  These works will be commenced in September as soon as the bird nesting season is over.  Starting from the Combe St. Nicholas end, the planned works are:

  • adjusting the latch on the gate going into the field
  • clear the brambles to give a 3 meter width on the section along the field edge that goes down to the stream.  This is heavy clay, and so poached that in some areas the surface is churned up to a depth of over half a meter. Letting more sunshine and air onto the surface, and widening it so the wear will be more spread should help in the long term.
  • creating a sleeper bridge over the stream close to the pedestrian sleeper bridge with guard rails and a suitable surface (the bank is firmer here and it will be away from the area being poached by cattle)
  • moving the awkward gate a few yards back so there is more manoeuvring space and it is not on such an incline
  • installing a short section of post and rail fence above where the stream turns eastwards
  • clearing the path through the spinney
  • repairing or replacing the gate at the bottom of the concrete track by the road

We never like hearing that a path is going to be closed on a temporary basis, but if it means it will be put into better order sooner rather than later, we are happy to support the council. After the path is reopened, it will be added to the list for biannual vegetation clearance.

Government U-turn See New 2031 Deadline and Puts Bridleway Routes at Risks

The BHS has condemned the decision and has said that it puts “horse riders at increasing risk on England’s roads”.

“The British Horse Society (BHS) is extremely disappointed to learn that the UK Government has broken its commitment to abolishing the 2026 deadline for saving vital off-road routes,” said a BHS spokesman.

“This decision will mean such routes across England will be lost for ever, resulting in even more restrictions when it comes to accessing the countryside.

“For horse riders, who currently have access to just 22% of the rights of way network, this decision will be particularly damaging. In 2022 alone, 68 horses were killed on Britain’s roads and 139 riders injured, therefore the protection of safe off-road routes is critical to make sure equestrians remain safe.”

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/mar/22/government-accused-u-turn-england-footpath-promise

https://beta.ramblers.org.uk/news/government-breaks-promise-scrap-deadline-saving-lost-paths

https://beta.ramblers.org.uk/news/how-government-told-us-about-their-u-turn-saving-lost-paths

https://singletrackworld.com/2023/03/government-changes-policy-on-rights-of-way-the-deadline-is-back/