Definitive bridleways and restricted byways.

Definitive bridleways are routes which can be used by walkers, horse riders and cyclists.   Restricted Byways carry the same rights as bridleways, plus can be used by non-motorised vehicles, ie horses pulling carts or carriages.

These can be seen on Ordnance Survey maps and on the rights of way section in Somerset County Council’s website, known as ROAM, and found under ‘View the network’.

There are approximately 300 bridleways in South Somerset which each have a path number.  They are divided up into four administrative areas:-  Chard (CH), Langport (L), Wincanton (WN) or Yeovil (Y), and these give the first part of the path number, followed by a parish number (almost alphabetical) followed by the individual path number.  Where a bridleway crosses a parish boundary it will change path number, so although there are 317 bridleways in the district, some will be double counted as they carry a different number when crossing into another parish.

It is easy to report faults on any of the bridleways.  These can be obstructions such as a fallen tree and overgrowth, or deliberate obstructions such as a locked gate or electric fence.  Due to limited resources, the county’s maintenance teams are reactive rather than proactive. Thus it is essential to ‘report a fault’ if we want it cleared. Usually a newly reported fault will be cleared within a matter of days. They do have a regular schedule of cutting surface growth on some routes, but, unless they are alerted to a problem  they do not check routes at any other time. The ROAM website has a ‘report a fault’ page which is easy to use.  This is checked daily by the area wardens which initiates the clearance of obstructions.

Where a route is shown on the definitive map, it sufficient evidence that the route carries the rights shown, but this is without prejudice to higher rights.  Thus, where the historical evidence of higher rights (ie bridleway or restricted byway) has been found, the SSBA has submitted applications for some definitive footpaths to be upgraded to bridleways.