Filthy bridleway

Mykidsdad
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Joined: 1 Jun 2019, 11:04pm

Filthy bridleway

Post by Mykidsdad »

There's a bridleway that connects where I work (Chilworth Science Park, North of Southampton) with the sports center, (or more precisely; Coxford Road).
In summer it's sort of passable as it dries out, but in Winter and Spring it's a muddy, waterlogged claggy mess. I cycle it in my bike because I fitted it with MTB knobblies and it sort of works, but it makes a mess of my bike and my classy overtrousers. Lovely ride apart from that.
Does anyone know if there's a mechanism for getting improvements made to the muddy sections? It's surrounded by some lovely gravel tracks (and long diversions up and down hills) but this short bit is awful.
The science park are trying to encourage people not to drive and are out of ideas (despite charging drivers zero for parking and having a terrible bus service). Are there precedents for organisations like this match funding with local authorities to improve bridleways, or is it a fat waste of time to try to get an upgrade to the surface?
Any thoughts welcome, thank you.
rareposter
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by rareposter »

You'd have to find out who owns the land that it's on, technically it's the landowner's responsibility to maintain rights of way across their land but "maintain" is a tricky one to define, it can literally just mean "passable" and as long as it's not blocked, it could be deemed as "maintained".

Local council rights of way officer should be able to provide detail about who owns it, they should have all the relevant land deeds.

The local authority can't really do much - especially if they don't own the land - although they can enforce planning regulations on the landowner should the ROW be found to be blocked. It invariably takes a very long time; councils have been run to the bone in the last decade and stuff like ROW has always been at the bottom of the pile anyway in terms of priorities.
Nearholmer
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Nearholmer »

I’d say that step one is to find out who the landowner is, and ask nicely, ideally as a club/group rather than an individual, and ideally showing willingness to, for instance, do the work on a voluntary basis, or get your employer to offer money or physical help.

My instinct is that if it’s passable on a horse, the landowner could decline to improve it, and that it would be very difficult, impossible even, to use the law to get beyond that.

I honestly think a nicely-nicely approach has a higher probability of getting you forward than any attempt to enforce.

The ultimate might be to get the highway authority to adopt it as a cycle way or shared-use path, but if the landowner doesn’t want that for one reason or another, that again could get nowhere.

The deep mud on bridleways thing is, BTW, one of my reasons for scepticism about eMTB, and opposition to any increase in power limits for EAPC. A knobbly-tyred EAPC blasted along a soft bridle way at full 250W assist can do a heck of a lot of damage to the surface, wrecking it for everyone else. Horses and cattle can also do phenomenal damage, but they’ve got a lot of grandfather rights!
Bmblbzzz
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Bmblbzzz »

Nearholmer wrote: 8 Mar 2024, 2:11pm I’d say that step one is to find out who the landowner is, and ask nicely, ideally as a club/group rather than an individual, and ideally showing willingness to, for instance, do the work on a voluntary basis, or get your employer to offer money or physical help.
Maybe joining/starting a Science Park Cycle User Group?
Jdsk
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Jdsk »

Bmblbzzz wrote: 8 Mar 2024, 2:39pm
Nearholmer wrote: 8 Mar 2024, 2:11pm I’d say that step one is to find out who the landowner is, and ask nicely, ideally as a club/group rather than an individual, and ideally showing willingness to, for instance, do the work on a voluntary basis, or get your employer to offer money or physical help.
Maybe joining/starting a Science Park Cycle User Group?
Yes, try to work with a group, either existing or new.

And find a friendly local journalist.

Jonathan
Mykidsdad
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Joined: 1 Jun 2019, 11:04pm

Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Mykidsdad »

Ah that's some brilliant ideas, thank you. I hadn't realised that bridleways were on private land which is obvious when you think about it..!
Point taken over knobbly tyres too, best left alone while it's super muddy.
The users group might come to something, will see how I get on. The science park is keen to promote alternatives to cars so it may be a good starting point.
Thanks again all. Very helpful.
Nearholmer
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Nearholmer »

Landowners have widely ranging attitudes to bridleways, so it’s impossible to predict the response you might get for asking.

Within an hour bike ride of where I am, there is one landed estate where they make it very apparent that they hate having plebeian oils on their land, and that they’d rather shut all the RoW, and another landed estate where they put up bridleway maps, create permissive bridleways with waymarking, and do all sorts of other super-friendly stuff. Most of the ordinary farmers round here fall in the middle, doing a good job of keeping RoW passable, and working with highways to put in good-quality boundary gates.

But, in a wet winter, there is mud, and plenty of it in particular spots, creating one of two sections that are virtually impassable on a bike, where horses, and especially cattle, create a deeply-puddled mess.
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gaz
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by gaz »

Get guidance from the Local Access Forum.

No legal obligation to maintain a bridleway in a suitable condition for people to cycle, which is why I despair when National Highways want to deliver new routes with a bridleway designation.
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Richard Fairhurst »

Local Access Forum is a very good shout. Also your local authority's rights of way officer (who will be on, and probably coordinate, the Local Access Forum).

Sometimes you can get funding for surface upgrades from nearby developments through Section 106/Community Infrastructure Levy funds - our local council (Oxfordshire) is pretty good at this.
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Pete Owens
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Pete Owens »

It is a bridleway - ie a public right of way for horse traffic. The only obligation on the Landowner is not to obstruct the passage of horses (and if a horse can pass so can a bicycle). There is no positive requirement to provide a surfaced path or indeed a path of any sort - just that any fences and walls crossing the route need to be provided with gates rather than stiles (which would be the case for a public footpath).

Taker a look at an OS map of the lake district and you will see that most of the high mountain passes have designated bridleways over them
Mykidsdad
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Joined: 1 Jun 2019, 11:04pm

Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Mykidsdad »

I read that Tarmac UK have a community improvement fund that can grant materials for this sort of improvement but as noted, it would require buy-in from the landowner.
Maybe I should get a horse.
Will investigate...
AndyK
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Location: Mid Hampshire

Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by AndyK »

You're talking about Lordswood Lane, yes? Running south-north across Chilworth Common and over the motorway? It's a bit out of my area but I think there's a history behind that piece of bridleway. (It's actually a restricted byway, by the way.) There may well be plans - probably unfunded at the moment - to do something with it. Worth contacting Cycling UK CAN local rep Jim Probert - I'm fairly sure he'll know more.. Contact link on the map halfway down this page: https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-campaig ... cy-network
Nearholmer
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Nearholmer »

If it’s actually a Restricted Byway, things change quite significantly, it’s legislatively more like a road, simply one not open to all traffic, and the highway authority has a role.

We’ve got several locally, spread about across the edges of three or four counties, and the different HAs treat the various ones differently, but they do at least take some part in their care; one of the byways gets a surprising amount of care and repair.
Pete Owens
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Pete Owens »

The only difference between a restricted byway and a bridleway is that the right of way extends to horse drawn vehicles. Again the only obligation on the landowner is that they cannot prohibit or obstruct such access. There is no positive duty to facilitate access.

Go another step up to byway open to all traffic (BOAT). This means you are legally permitted to drive a motor vehicle, but don't assume that the routes is suitable for anything other than a serious all-terrain vehicle.
Nearholmer
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Re: Filthy bridleway

Post by Nearholmer »

I’ve tried to understand this before, and got lost in a heap of bits of legislation, so lack certainty, but I thought that in the case of a byway, the HA responsibility extended to maintaining it fit for use by whatever vehicles are permitted to use it, so horse drawn ones for restricted byways, and motor vehicles for unrestricted byways.

Certainly one quite long one near where I live is actively maintained by the council - they may be the landowner, I suppose, or maybe they somehow get supported by Sustrans, because it is part of NCN.

Maybe in most cases the HA only has to ensure that the landowner keeps it fit.

Some byways have restriction orders on them, banning vehicles during the winter to protect the surface - Cambridgeshire seems to have several like that.
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