A Northamptonshire rider is dismayed that she can no longer visit Salcey Forest’s café with her horse.
Claire Paul has ridden in the forest for five years and also takes her nine-year-old step son, George, out on the trails.
Until recently, the pair had been using the forest’s café and toilet facilities in the main car park.
However, last month (15 November) Claire was approached by a Forestry Commission worker and told that horses were not allowed in this area.
“Riders make a special effort to go there for the six-mile track and it’s a shame that they can’t use the facilities,” Claire told H&H.
“George and I like to have a hot drink when we ride in the forest. I am aware the car park can get busy, but we go there early in the morning when there is hardly ever anyone about.
“We make sure we stand by the bins out of the way and there is a big fence around the children’s play area.”
The forest has a special car park designated for horseboxes and trailers, which is a few minutes from the main car park.
“We can’t just leave our horses while we go and get a drink,” added Claire.
“A friend of mine has ridden in the forest for the past 46 years. Years ago there were grassy tracks and access was open to all.”
A spokesman from the Forestry Commission said that the specific horsebox car park is a safer environment for riders and their horses.
“Our website page for the site clearly says that horses should stick to bridleways and our permissive horse routes,” he told H&H.
“We welcome responsible riders who use the specific areas and trails we have created and hope they would want to avoid putting their horses at risk in a busy car park. Ultimately we will always put the safety of our visitors and staff first and work so everyone can enjoy the forest.”