“If you want to open up your own toll route, first you need to work out the viability and approach the landowner with a plan,” advises rural planning expert and Toll Rides (Off-Road) Trust (TROT) trustee Judith Norris.
Make a formal agreement
“It is perfectly feasible to set up your own ride,but there are important considerations,”
“You should ensure there is a clear, formal agreement between all the parties [riders and landowners] that stipulates where you can ride, the restrictions on users, payment and notice in case the route needs to be closed.”
Official organisations such as TROT have their own public insurance, but members must have third-party liability cover.
“The same applies if you have set up your own toll ride and we advise that landowners have public liability cover,” says TROT’s Donna Sprott.
If you are setting up your own low-key ride, you do not have to submit accounts. But Peter Treadgold of Smith & Williamson accountants advises that if you are collecting money from different people and handing it over to a farmer, a record of transactions should be kept.
“If you are only paying a farmer a nominal amount to use his land for recreational purposes, it would not be deemed a business,” he exlains. “But even so it is prudent to appoint someone to keep a record of the money.”
Connecting up routes
TROT is the biggest operator of these rides in the UK.
It has 51 routes on private land, farmland or Forestry Commission in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Cheshire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Leicestershire.
Members pay an annual subscription, two-thirds of which goes to the landowner. The remainder is reinvested back into the TROT system.
“The idea is to connect up existing bridleways and open up circular routes,” explains Donna.
In other areas of the country, East Anglian Farm Rides (EAFR) offers 250 miles of off-road tracks to riders on more than 55 farms in Essex.
Other toll ride groups operate on a smaller scale nationwide, mainly overseen by bridleway organisations.
For more information visit:
British Horse Society (BHS) access and rights of way: www.bhs.org.uk
Toll Rides (Off-Road) Trust (TROT): www.tollrides.org.uk
East Anglian Farm Rides (EAFR): www.farmrides.com
Forestry Commission: www.forestry.gov.uk
UK Chasers: www.ukchasers.com
This article was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (29 August 2013)