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.
We are seeking anyone willing to give evidence that two bridleways have been used for riding. Somerset Council have now refused the applications on Thornhill Drove or Ash Drove near Ash, Martock (TA12). Any user evidence from the past ten years is welcome to keep these two bridleways of the map.
We will appeal this as evidence becomes available.
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.”
Our chair has been working closely with Highways England. There will be several events where you can see what the current plans for equestrians will be and have you say.
We’re hosting some themed webinars on Microsoft Teams with out project team, focusing on different topics and specialist areas. At these, one-hour-long, events our team will give a short presentation and then take questions from attendees. You can submit your questions using the chat function (which can be used anonymously).
Walking, cycling and horse-riding, including disabled users
The Planning Inspectorate have directed Somerset County council to get on with processing the following applications and it would be very helpful if anyone who has walked or ridden these routes would fill in user evidence forms (see below).
Huish Episcopi and Drayton – Huish Drove, Frog Lane, and Park Lane.
Chaffcombe/Chard – Paintmoor Lane
Merriott – Niddons Lane and Holdfast, Ham and Middlefield Lanes (these have been blocked for many years)
Charlton Mackrell – Withybed Lane (blocked at southern end)
A huge thank you to Somerset Council and our friend at Mendip Bridleways and Byways Association for organising the surface improvements of Westover lane (light green line on the map below) and Lydford Lane (dark green line). They are now looking great and accessible again for riders, cyclists and walkers. Bollards are due to be installed on the bridleway section of Lydford lane in Babcary to prevent new damage by 4×4 vehicles. Until the work can be done, part of the path will be blocked to protect the condition of the route. A suitable gap will be left to allow access for legal Rights of Way users.