An equestrian access group has made a bridleway rideable in winter.
The Worplesdon and District Bridleways Association (WDBA) is celebrating a new permissive horse ride, which opened on 17 November.
The WDBA spent two years fundraising to raise the £8,000 needed to pay for a 100m track on the north west perimeter of Sheets Heath Common.
It runs from bridleway 413 alongside the stock fence to the equestrian gate and creates a vital link for riders to reach the commons and access the extended riding beyond. The bridleway had previously led into a quagmire that was impassable in winter.
“We held pleasure rides, dressage competitions and organised lecture demos from local saddlers and equestrian experts,” said WDBA member Joanna Haward.
The work was carried out by Poulsom Plant, the company that had restored bridleway 413 in December 2012. The £7,000 costs took four years for the WDBA to raise.
“There is very good riding either side of Sheets Heath Common but in the winter riders were landlocked and couldn’t get across the common and access the extending riding beyond,” said Ms Haward who managed the improvements.
“We had had huge support for doing this work and I would particularly like to thank the landowner Woking Borough Council, Natural England and Marcus Turley of the Surrey Heathland Project who have been such a help to us throughout this project.”
Woking Borough Council was gifted Sheets Heath Common for the benefit of public access including horse riding which is allowed under the common’s bylaws.
The WDBA was formed 22 years ago by local riders from Worplesdon and the surrounding areas and has 104 members.
Its aim is to protect and promote bridleways and permissive horse rides and to campaign for circular routes, avoiding highways wherever possible.
Other objectives are to maintain pressure on local authorities for more access and safer road crossings and establish good relationships with landowners, councils and the MoD for improved access to local ranges.