Rights of Way
Aims of the Cumbria Bridleways Society
- To encourage the recognition and preservation of bridleways, pack horse routes and other paths, such as byways, within the boundaries of Cumbria, to secure their use by the general public.
- To actively research and claim any lost rights of way in the county of Cumbria to ensure they are correctly recorded for use by the general public.
- The Society will work towards improvement of the existing network by suggesting upgrading of routes and the dedication of routes to enhance use by the public of the countryside. This will include the promotion of off road routes to benefit the safety of users.
- The Society will promote protection of the environment whist encouraging enjoyment of the rights of way network by the public and will offer advise to the public.
Cumbria is the second largest county in England after North Yorkshire and we have the highest total of bridleways in a county. There are however lots of anomalies and errors throughout the network.
The authorities work with a definitive map that is not the same as the OS maps we may have of an area. The definitive map is continually updated as routes are added or removed etc. When an authority is approached to change the status of a route they will consult us and other user groups whilst researching the route in the archives. This process can take several years and sometimes the matter will be debated at a public inquiry and the Inspector will look at all the evidence and reach a conclusion.
Over the last couple of years the Rights of Way Improvement Plan has been introduced and this has been an opportunity to ask for new routes and links between routes. As ever there is always a lack of funds to fully realise everyone's wish lists but we must keep asking.
As well as being consulted by the authorities we have had members sitting on a number of rights of way committees and working groups. Currently we have representation on the following:
Local Access Forums.
Established under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 Access Forums are advisory bodies of which there are over 80 in the country and we have two in Cumbria. One covering the National Park and the other covering the rest of Cumbria outside the Park.
They have appointed members and there is a wide range of representation of user groups, landowners and other interested people for example those representing disabilities all resulting in an important resource of expertise.
They provide independent advice on public access to land for open air recreation and other purposes.
Our member on the Lakes Access Forum is Carole Barr and our member for the Cumbria Local Access Forum is Lis Fell.
The forums meet regularly and the meetings are public. If you have an issue you would like to raise then you can find out more about the fourms work and how to raise a question by visiting the Cumbria County Council or National Park websites.
Cumbria Task Groups and the Motor Powered Vehicle Sub Group.
There is now a Cumbria Countryside Access Partnership encompassing the County Council, Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks. All working together to manage, develop and improve access. Part of this approach are the "task groups" and these involve a wider membership from interested stakeholders. The BHS and ourselves have representation in two of the groups. There is also a sub group providing a consistent management approach to motor vehicle access on which we also have a representative.
The Cumbria Bridleways Society is listed on the wider reference group so may be consulted by any of the task or wider working groups.
Gatescarth and Garburn Working Groups.
Cumbria Bridleways Society has been involved with both these working groups from the start. Both these routes are of a sensitive nature and the working groups have been managing their access particularly vehicle use.
The Garburn Pass was the first route in the National Park to have a horse stile installed to allow riders through but hopefully deter motorcyclists.
The Gatescarth Working Group initiated a permit system to control the number of days and the number of vehicles who can use this route. This resulted in the gates at either end being locked so horse riders also need a permit so they can open the locks (available from the National Park).
The society works hard on establishing and maintaining good relations with other users groups