‘Unsafe’ bridleway restored to provide crucial link to off-road riding

The £21,0000 restoration of an ‘unsafe’ bridleway that provided a crucial off-road route for riders, walkers and cyclists demonstrates the importance of access work, the British Horse Society (BHS) believes.

The bridleway in Horton, Dorset, was overgrown with unusable boggy sections. It was the only off-road access from Horton Tower to links with a mass of tracks in Queens Copse, Ferndown Forest, Holt Forest and beyond.

Work included cutting back trees and scrub to form a 4m-wide area and creating a new drainage system with locally sourced Mendip stone to stop the route becoming waterlogged.

The bridleway before

“The partnerships formed here in Horton to restore this unsafe route highlight the importance of our access efforts and how the work benefits many users in the local community,” said Tracy Casstles, director of fundraising at the BHS. “We’re delighted that this work will allow user groups such as equestrians, cyclists and walkers access to safe off-road access opportunities and we very much look forward to working on similar projects across the UK.”

The Veoila Environmental Trust put £15,000 towards the project, through the Landfill Communities Fund. The remaining £6,000 was secured through funding from the BHS paths for communities fund, Knowlton Parish Council, Dorset Council, the Knowlton Parish Community Benefit Fund and the East Dorset Rambles Association, with the support of the Forestry Commission and residents.

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Parish council chairman Cllr Jerry Laker said: “Knowlton Parish Council is delighted to have been a part of this project to improve the accessibility to the extensive forest area and our landmark tower at Horton.”

The restoration is an example of the work taking place under the BHS’s project jigsaw campaign, which aims to provide all equestrians with access to a safe network of off-road tracks.

The project is made up of four areas: government lobbying, ride out UK, paths for communities and mapping the historic routes by 1 January 2026 to prevent them being lost for ever. The Horton restoration came under the paths for communities fund, a fundraising initiative working with landowners to create new routes and ensure existing routes are kept open and maintained.

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