Two equine schemes are going head to head in a bid to win public votes and claim some of a £50million Lottery “living landmarks” handout.

The projects are Bridge the Gap, a plan to bring an old military railway bridge near Catterick Racecourse back into use as part of a bridleway, and Sherwood: The Living Legend, a scheme to make the famous forest a traffic-free Mecca for riders, with 95km of new routes.

Both projects have drawn up a shortlist of six from which a final selection will be made to go before a public vote on ITV in December. The Sherwood plan is a stand-alone project, bidding for the full £50million, whereas Bridging the Gap is a small part of a 79-project bid from the charity Sustrans, and needs £50,000.

The bridge would be used to give local riders a safer crossing of the River Swale

In Catterick, a bridge would be used to give local riders a safer crossing of the River Swale.
Brompton on Swale parish councillor Frank Broughton said: “Catterick Bridge has heavy traffic, and a blind bend. You’d have to be brave to attempt it on horseback.

“We are developing a network of bridleways on both sides of the Swale, so the new bridge would be the link between the two.”

The Sherwood project would include a new carbon neutral visitor centre, more trees and new bridleways

If Nottinghamshire County Council’s Sherwood project gets the go-ahead, there would be a new carbon neutral visitor centre, more trees and new bridleways.

“The project will expand the ancient oak forest with 300 hectares of planting and create one of the largest walking, cycling and horse riding networks in Europe,” said publicity officer Nikki Phillips.

The Living Landmarks committee of experts meets in October to make the final decision on which projects make it to the public vote.

All six projects or a reduced number may go forward.

Sir Clive Booth, chairman of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “The final say lies in the hands of the public, whose votes will play a key part in bringing a major multi-million pound UK project to life.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (27 October, ’07)