Five of us were sitting around in the tack room drinking tea, watching the rain and putting the world to rights, as you do. We were moaning that ‘they’ should do something about the traffic and the lack of off road riding. Then the thought hit us; if all we could do for ourselves was moan, why should anyone do it for us? That’s when North Cheshire Riders was born.
There are more than five of us now and we are affiliated to the BHS so that we have public liability insurance, but we’re an access group not just a bridleways group. We work to improve our own riding in the area between Knutsford and Wilmslow north to the M56 motorway and south to Peover.
However we want to share our experience with other riders. When we get something improved we organise a ride to ensure local riders know about it. There’s no point in getting the work done if no one uses it.
Some of us are lucky enough to have our own transport for our horses and take then out to areas with better riding. We take them on holiday too, which means that we can give you information on rides in other places too.
There’s no point in having the most fantastic bridleways if you can’t get to them without riding on busy main roads. It’s not just about clearing scrub!
First of all, we had to have the ear of the authorities which have the power to carry out major work. We began with a detailed submission to Cheshire County Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan and the Local Transport Plan. A key part of that was a survey of the numbers of horses kept in the area and an estimate of the value of that to local businesses.
As far as we know this is still the only area of the country this has been done. As numbers are much higher than the official estimate, we have ensured that our local needs will have a priority. When Cheshire County Council’s Rights of Way wanted to bid for funds for drainage work on a bridleway they came to us for information horse numbers. There were a staggering 700 horses kept within the six surrounding square kilometres.
All the key improvements in our submission to Cheshire County Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan have now been completed and we have submitted an update to it in spring 2010. Details are in the action log.
At first Cheshire Highways said there were no accidents recorded for a ‘rat run’ road that we have to use every time we leave the yard. We monitored accidents for six weeks. We now have ‘Beware Ridden Horses’ signs at three black spots, and an extension of the 30mph zone. White lines have also been repainted and road signs cleared of vegetation and work carried out at a bad bend.
We have submitted a ‘lost ways’ claim in the centre of the area linking Noah’s Ark Lane and Warford Lane and are helping Border Bridleways to claim several well used tracks on Lindow Moss. Some are complete and approved and another will go to public enquiry 2010.
Some riders keep their horses in areas where there are no bridleways and no lost ways to claim. That is why we set up the first Toll Ride in the
A Toll Ride aims to give riders at least four miles of paid riding linking their stable yard to safe roads and other off road riding. The fee is usually about £2.30 a week, paid annually. Although there is less than 4 miles in this early stage of development, riders in Ashley are very keen. There is a horse box park too.
The route has been carefully chosen to be rideable year round and close to the ‘stable doors’ of as many riders as possible.
In order to get the ride open we need to clear scrub, put in gates and a few bridges. We have been sponsored by local businesses and most generously by ‘visit
Ashley was chosen as the first in the