Be glad for what you’ve got!
I refer to Messrs Peter Carr, Trevor Allison, Anne Suffolk, and Bob Coalbran’s letter in the Shropshire Star “The bridleway issue tackled”.
Be glad you ramblers that you can walk – the only way I will see the bluebell woods and the orchids in Limekiln Woods will be on a horse. Are ramblers so selfish or just arrogant? Horse riders always stick to the path in woods for their own safety. It is more likely the orchids are trodden on by deer or dogs, or a gang of people.
The ramblers fought for the National Parks and Access to Countryside Act 1949, but were mainly interested in footpaths, wanting them set in stone. Unfortunately for others they made a bad job of it. Paths had four categories: footpath, bridleway, and carriage/byway.
Walkers could use all categories – 100 per cent of the market! Horses and cyclists can use only 25 per cent of the rest of the categories put together. How fair is that? The survey was done by each parish, resulting in different rights stopping at the boundary: footpath one side, bridleway/carriage way the other; whatever the surveyor thought they might be, or if he even saw any horses, not many were around after the war, only farmers could afford them, rationing was still on, and many had been eaten.
This is why there are so many anomalies on the Ordnance Survey and Definitive Maps and why we do not have many bridleways.
David Cameron squeezed in a Deregulation Act in 2006 just before he resigned. In the middle of this was a section on closing all our paths by 2026. They will stay in the mess that they are in now unless changed by then.
For hundreds of years all roads, tracks and paths were used as appropriate. Pack horses were the only transport, and the paths they used were called “carriage roads” long before carts came into fashion. Since then thousands of these old paths have been downgraded to footpaths. “Once a highway always a highway” still stands in law but we have to now “prove” them by collecting evidence of use or searching through old maps and documents. All by 2026!
It does not help that Telford & Wrekin Council are well behind with their rights of way upgrades. This does cause confusion to the status of paths and they need to put their money where it is needed as it is a statutory duty to look after Rights of Way.
Jan Mees-Robinson, Telford Bridleways Association, Arleston Hill