After an eight-year campaign by local riders, bridleway groups and riding clubs, a new underpass opened on the A11 last Friday (12 December).

The underpass links rights of way to the north and south of the dual carriageway enabling riders to reach Thetford forest.

Bryan Freemantle, a former British Horse Society county access and bridleways officer, fought hard to get the Highways Agency to accept the underpass was necessary.

He organised a peaceful protest to draw attention to the need of a safe crossing at the A11. At the time there were an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day using the A11, making it dangerous, if not impossible for riders or walkers to cross the road.

The resulting press coverage led local MP Richard Spring to ask the Highways Agency to include the underpass in the A11 improvement scheme.

They eventually agreed to fund the underpass together with Suffolk County council. The Elveden Estate gave land on the northern end of the underpass to enable it to join an existing bridleway.

“This underpass sets a standard for the whole country,” said Elizabeth Barrett, chairman of the Suffolk Federation of Byway and Bridleway groups who helped with the campaign.

It is high enough for a horse to stand up in on its hind legs and has a surface which makes it very quiet.

“When you are down there you can’t hear any traffic. It’s also very welcoming for horses as you can see a lot of daylight on the other side,” Mrs Barrett told H&H.

“We now have the ability for a 50 mile circular ride which will help equestrian tourism in the area,” she added.