BHS Lancashire Area Article March 2010

The following article was published in the March edition of the BHS Lancashire Area Magazine

Rochdale & Bury Bridleway Association

About Us

Rochdale & Bury Bridleways Association meets on the last Monday night of every month (except Bank Holidays when we meet a week earlier) at The Pack Horse Inn in Birtle, Bury.  We currently have approximately 80 members and have lots of guest speakers covering all kinds of equine issues and pastimes.  We give all new members a hi-viz vest which identifies them as a Bridleways Association member.  Our members also benefit from a 10% discount  at all the local tack shops.

Our main aim is to improve and maintain the off road riding routes in our area which has included getting paths upgraded to bridleway status which in one instance took approximately 10 years as, anyone who has gone through this process will know, nothing happens very quickly.

We have negotiated a concessionary route with United Utilities through Greenbooth Reservoir above Norden which links in with the Mary Townley loop and offers riders the opportunity to ride where they couldn’t normally get.  All members have the opportunity to buy a key to access the ride which is well worth the money to get off the road and into some spectacular scenery.

We also had another concessionary route through Ashworth Reservoir (opposite Owd Betts pub on Edenfield Road) which took us from Norden through to Buckhurst and Birtle and again this was a very good route.  Unfortunately the river crossing got washed away about three year’s ago and we are still waiting for a gate to be installed elsewhere on the path to get it opened up again.  Hopefully this is one for 2010.

We raise money by running a 50/50 members draw.  Last year the prize was £92.50 and the same went into bridleways funds.  We are just about to start a new draw for this year.  We also raised lots of money last year with raffles and two “Grand Draws”.

Challenges we have faced

We started 2009 with a public enquiry in January.  This was regarding  a 30 metre length of footpath which is in the middle of two bridleways and which was blocked by the landowner in 1980.  We had gathered evidence covering more than 20 years’ usage and had successfully got it upgraded by the Council in June 2008.  The landowner objected and so the public enquiry took place.  The Inspector who held the enquiry made the decision that it should be upgraded, however, because the Council had reported incorrect map references on the Definitive Map there is now about 10 metres  still in dispute.  We are now awaiting the Inspector’s final decision on this.  If it gets passed, this will remove the need for horse riders to go up a busy main road and get them into the countryside where they belong.

We successfully managed to get funding to get some horse rider warning signs put on a main road near to where a bridleway meets it and where there are a couple of livery yards where the riders have no option but to ride down the road.  The signs are standard size and yet again we have landed in trouble.  One of the people who live near one of them has complained that it is spoiling her view so we have had to go so several forum meetings to defend them and get the support of the community in general.  Luckily this is one we have won and the signs are staying where they are.