Horses rescued from bridleway after becoming stuck in bogs

  • A council has put up warning signs on a bridleway after two horses had to be rescued from sinking bogs.

    Jane Hallam, from Lancashire, had intended to ride over Dunsop Fell in the Forest of Bowland to Whitendale and on to the Inn At Whitewell.

    Jane and her friend were dropped off on 30 May with their horses with the aim to to meet their husbands at the Inn at Whitewell for lunch and then drive home.

    But at the top of Dunsop Fell the horses became repeatedly stuck in various bogs along the bridleway.

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    The riders dismounted to check the going on foot before taking the horses across, but they soon became stuck again.

    Each time the horses lurched free they went down. It was becoming dangerous so we untacked them and put on headcollars, waiting for them to gain some energy back to pull themselves free,” Mrs Hallam told H&H.

    “One of us stayed with the horses while the other went off to find a safe route. Walkers stopped to help, but there was nothing they could do.”

    They left the horses on the fell for the night.

    The next day another attempt was made to get them down with the help of the local farmer and husbands.

    However, the weather had deteriorated so the Hallams rugged up the horses and left them with feed and haylage until conditions improved.

    “All week we visited our stranded horses but the farmer told us the bogs don’t even dry out in summer,” said Mrs Hallam.

    The local fire and rescue services were called for help and a representative from Bay Rescue came to see if they could get an all terrain vehicle up the fell but it wasn’t possible.

    “So we came up with our own plan,” said Mrs Hallam.

    The local caravan park offered them a temporary road surface comprising 20 boards, and 15 strong friends and family arrived with two quad bikes, trailers and a pickup to make a temporary rolling road.

    The rescue mission took five hours with Mrs Hallam’s horse having to be sedated to get him down.

    “It was a massive team effort but everyone was elated when the horses were down in the farm yard,” said Mrs Hallam.

    “We were sorry to hear of this incident and were alerted to what had happened by a local farmer,” said David Goode, Lancashire County Council public rights of way manager.

    We responded very quickly to put up signs at the bottom of Dunsop Fell to warn riders that the stone path is not continuous and that conditions on the top of the fell are more difficult.

    “Most riders who use the bridleway live locally and are likely to be aware of the potential conditions on Dunsop Fell, which are largely weather dependent. However, we’re aware of the potential for visitors to need more information to help them decide upon the best choice of route and are considering additional signage and other forms of information for our upland routes.”

    The British Horse Society said it was “glad the issue has been highlighted”.

    “The BHS recommends that riders and carriage drivers do as much research as possible before exploring new routes, especially when riding in remote hill and moorland areas as soft and boggy ground can often be a potential hazard to riders in these areas,” a spokesman told H&H.

    If in doubt, don’t go forward, and return the way you came. If you do come across problem areas, do inform the local authority and advise other riders of the problem. Local bridleways groups and social media are useful in helping to spread the word. We are pleased to hear that the local council rights of way team are being proactive to address this particular concern.”

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