Email Us


Home  ArchiveAnswers   |  Articles   | Chat Room  |  Diary  | Fun  | Gallery   |  Links   | Marketplace  |  Message Boards Riding Schools  | Our stable Sports  Search


Free Classifieds ads - horses for sale




Spinal Research


Access - B.O.A.T.s
(Byway Open to All Traffic)



-- Posted by sunflower on Feb. 9, 2002

My local woods used to have a Byway Open to All Traffic running through the middle.  This has remained unused for quite a long time (around 20 years I think but I'm not sure exactly).  The woods have since been closed off to all but riders, carriage drivers, cyclists and walkers, ie no vehicular access.  Recently a local 4x4 club has applied to Hampshire Council to have the BOAT reinstated properly so that they can use it.  

This wood is a really important local amenity as there are a lot of riders etc who use it and it is one of the few places where it is safe to ride.  I think these 4x4s would cause a real problem as they are not exactly known for sticking to the allotted tracks or their consideration for other road users.

So, my query is this.  Technically there has always been a BOAT there (I think) and as such they are legally allowed to use it (the council agreed with them and the matter has now gone to appeal - due end of next month)   Bearing in mind that there has been a HUGE local complaint about this and the impact it would have on riders etc, is there any chance that a BOAT can be downgraded to a bridleway?

I am so cross about this, there have already been countless letters, petitions etc but I have a horrible feeling that the 4x4 club will win, as the law is on their side.  What else can we do?

-- Posted by Sharon H on 1:01 pm on Feb. 10, 2002

If the BOAT is downgraded to a bridle way then carriage drivers won't be able to use it. I have to say that, in general, I'm not in favour of down grading, we have lost and are in the process of losing so many ROWs . RUPPs, BOATs Bridlepaths and Footpaths that keeping the ones that we do have open in their original state would be my concern. Not all 4x4 drivers create havoc. Our local group spent many months making a BOAT useable for everyone. You may find that if the club are successful, they will 'adopt' it and you might find it gets maintained a lot better. If it does get mis-used, you can apply for a Temporary restriction order on it.

-- Posted by sunflower on Feb. 10, 2002

Carriage drivers can already use the path as part of the forest which is managed by the Forestry Commission so it is really just finding a way to stop the cars getting in there.  There is already a problem in there with fly tipping and dumped cars so presumably opening up the gates would allow even more in.  (Carriage drivers can apply for a key)

Interesting point about applying for a temporary restriction if they prove to be a problem - how do you go about getting one of these should the matter arise?

-- Posted by les on Feb. 10, 2002

You could approach the BHS and one of their access officers or your nearest bridleways group for advice. I do know that in some instances there can be a prohibition order made - if for instance the track is part of one of the national trails. I too hate coming across off road vehicles in the middle of what should be green and pleasant - why don't they stick to the thousands of miles of tarmac they've got without messing our bits up.

-- Posted by Sharon H on Feb. 10, 2002

Carriage drivers may be allowed access by the current owners of the woodland but if the BOAT is re-classified then their 'right' to use it will have gone for ever. ROWs are a big issue with most user groups at the moment, the most militant group seems to be the Ramblers who always seem to give the impression that they would like every ROW made into a footpath only! Don't forget that for some disabled people, the only way they can get access to 'green and pleasant' bits of the countryside is by use of a 4x4. Personally, I would rather come across a 4x4 that I can hear coming than a mountain bike which I can't! The District council responsible for the area would be the people to contact regarding a TRO if the worst happens, but I think (and hope!) that you will find it doesn't turn out as bad as you are expecting. Fly tipping and abandoned cars are, unfortunately a fact of life and it is interesting to see that some councils are now re-considering their regulations and charges for dumping at the official tips. It seems that it is costing them a fortune to clear up after the illegal dumping. (Any fool could have told them that, in the first place) If the surface of the BOAT is good enough for people to abandon vehicles there, then it will be suitable for the vehicles to be cleared away.
I've got a foot in every camp regarding ROWs, I ride, drive, walk my dogs and have a Land Rover which I sometimes like to take off road, so I can see it from everyone's point of view, however these ROWs are our heritage and I feel very strongly that they should be kept open for as many different user groups as possible to enjoy them.

-- Posted by Cob Nut  on Feb. 12, 2002

Sorry, I'm not too strong on this area (although I fancy I should try to learn a bit more about it). The BHS access officers are probably the best peeps to be talking to.

For myself, though, I do think that we should be cautious about being seen to campaign for rights of way to be restricted to the level that best suits us - because then what moral right do we have to object to peeps in the walking fraternity campaigning for our much-needed bridleways to be limited to rights of way on foot?

The greatest need, since the passing of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, is to get the unclassified bridleways onto the maps. And we will not get any help from anywhere besides the horsey community. I had an interesting discussion on the "sting in the tail" of the CROW (i.e. the final loss of many bridleway rights; and the downgrading of some "green lanes" to mere bridleway status to the detriment of the driving community) with the editor of a leading outdoor activities magazine. His attitude was "Tough: we don't give a fig for their problems, because we've now got the right to roam on foot that we've always wanted." So much for co-operation on matters of mutual interest!

So, my (decidedly non-legal) advice is very much that I would be inclined to try to open a dialogue with the 4x4 brigade, and let them know of the equestrian users' concerns in the hope of being able to establish some agreed ground-rules for mutual co-operation in the responsible use of these lanes in such a way that BOTH communities can go about pursuing their interests, rather than getting into the situation where a group of people who are in practice, if they were so minded, able to make equestrian use of these lanes all but impossible think that the snooty horsey brigade are trying to deny them their legitimate rights to use these lanes.

-- Posted by rinzarider on 11:37 am on Feb. 12, 2002

You are right there Cobnut. No one but NO one is interested in the horse riders rights (or wrongs) except the horse riding fraternity itself.  We are fighting for our lives here-quite literally on some of our roads-just to keep what we've got.  Which isn't much.  I'm Ok-I can box to where I want to go-but not everyone is able to do that.  

-- Posted by Sue Jeggo on Feb. 17, 2002

I'm with Sharon and Cobnut on this; there are plenty of people out there who will try to deny rights of others and its usually the higher rights (carriage drivers etc) that loose the most.

I forget the figures but from memory about 80% of paths are footpaths so we have to share the remaining approx 20% (bridleways and byways) between us.

One possible solution may be the Kent Carriage Gap - further info here

"Making the Best of Byways" was published in 1998 and gives lots of advice and case studies. Can be ordered free from 0117 987 8879






If you can't find the answer and need help urgently, please e-mail:






Home  Answers   |  Archive  |  Articles   | Diary  |  Fun  |  Gallery  |  Links  |  Marketplace  | Message Boards Riding Schools  | Our Stable | Sports Search

Contents of this site are (c)