From: Janet Cochrane, Director, Ride Yorkshire.
MICHAEL Gove’s announcement of a post-Brexit emphasis on encouraging farmers to create more ‘public goods’ in return for subsidies is to be welcomed.
However, although enhancing biodiversity through the new policy has grabbed the headlines, there was also mention of creating better access to the countryside.
Let’s hope this will cover not just walkers but also horse-riders, currently constrained to using the limited number of bridleways for off-road recreational riding (even though many tracks designated as public footpaths are sufficiently robust to take horses). Much of the existing public rights-of-way network is not fit for purpose because so many bridleways lead to busy roads and are therefore unusable, and in many places even rural roads are too fast and dangerous for safe riding.
Riders are therefore constrained to using schooling arenas or small areas around the stable yards where their horses live.
What is needed are off-road circuits of five to 15 miles where riders can enjoy pleasant hacking from safe parking places.
Riders are happy to put money into the rural economy – but the infrastructure has to exist to make this possible.