Routes News Archive – the following projects are shown on this page: Three Ashes; Ditcheat; Mill Lane; Watery Lane; Hunters Lodge; Stonedown; Burnt House Drove; Huckeymead and Hembridge and phase 1 of Kennel Lane.
In response to an MBBA member’s request, the committee duly walked this bridleway in the Autumn of 2009 together with Sheila Petherbridge, who was at that time, the Rights of Way Officer for Mendip District Council. As you will see from the photos, the route was in a pretty bad way and riders were not using it when wet. Large rocks were embedded in the ruts and the surface was very boggy and impassable in places. A considerable budget of over £3,000 and a detailed job spec were agreed with the MBBA contractor, Russell Bateman and after a very wet winter, work commenced in June 2010.
The improvements are obvious in the photos below and should result in a good all-weather surface for many years to come. The clean-stone topping will bed in and mud will be walked across the path enabling grass to grow in due course. Shortly, the gates are due to be re-hung and horse friendly latches will be added to enable riders to enjoy an unhindered ride through this pretty area.
Yuk – I’m not going through that!
Same place – Spot the difference. Job carried out by Russell Bateman.
The routes in this area have recently received an upgrade thanks to the negotiating skills of warden Eve Wynn working with local landowners. A new bridge has been installed, together with new waymarkers, gateways have been improved and the whole network of routes brought up to scratch. This now offers a super complex of routes running from Ditcheat through to Kilkenny, across the A37 and on to West Pennard and the network of bridleways beyond. Parking may be available for small boxes by prior arrangement with The Manor House pub in Ditcheat.
Mill Lane, West Compton, Spring 2010
Mill Lane, in West Compton has always been a popular route for local riders as there are very few bridleways open to horses in this area. However, in wet weather, it took on the character of a muddy river bed and was totally unusable; each year it deposited tons of mud, debris and water onto the adjoining road, blocked the drains and in turn then gushed down into the hamlet.
Finally in May of 2010, after many years of pressure from MBBA, Highways did a very good job of refurbishment on this ancient and pretty lane, digging out the ditches, diverting the stream and levelling the route, revealing a delightful track for all to enjoy. But not for long!!
Sadly, the next night, 4 x 4s used the track extensively and totally trashed a good deal of all the good work done by Highways. This is a tragic situation and one too often encountered by MBBA once a route has been improved. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of local farmers, the surface of the route has once again been made good and both riders and walkers are now enjoying this lane with dry feet.
If you ever encounter illegal vehicular access or evidence of it on a bridleway or restricted byway, please take the registration number of the vehicle, 4 x 4 or motorbike and a note of the time and date and report to MBBA. We will, if you wish, contact the police on your behalf.
Watery Lane, Norton St Phillip
About 5 years ago, local member Lynda le Ray drew our attention to Watery Lane which was proving hazardous for local riders. Lynda kindly ran a fun ride to raise funds to improve this route and after very long and drawn-out negotiations with Somerset County Council, the contractor has finally finished the job and comparison photos are below. This is a jointly funded project between MBBA and SCC and the long delay was partly due to the working conditions and the nature of the specification.
The problem arose because horses were finding it difficult to keep their footing on the large sloping rocks leading down from the bridleway gate at the field end of the route. The bridleway runs along the course of the old river bed and for the past three years it has been too wet for machinery to access the track. Thanks to an incredibly dry spell, the contractor was able to work there and the route is now greatly improved and should be a pleasure for riders and walkers to use.
Hunters Lodge UCR, Wanstrow
About five years ago, riders and walkers in Wanstrow were bewailing the fact that the lane past Hunters Lodge was completely overgrown and impassable.
Fortunately a friendly local farmer had allowed riders to use his driveway to access the network of bridleways in that area instead of using the UCR. However, Highways have a duty to keep clear all UCRs, (although it comes low on their list of priorities!) and so contact was made with the relevant officers and promises received. Endless delays were experienced due to poor weather, nesting birds, contractors going to the wrong site etc! And the clearance of Hunters Lodge was fast becoming one of MBBA’s longest projects!
Five years of phone calls, emails and meetings have finally resulted in this lane receiving a thorough clearance and it is now completely open to ride. The surface in places is still quite deep and while the lane is clear and wide enough for contractors’ vehicles, MBBA will hopefully be able to negotiate the necessary improvements.
Hunters Lodge in 2008
Hunters Lodge – job done! 2009 Thank you Highways.
Update on Hunters Lodge Route 2010
Improvements to the surface, which included considerable ditching and drainage and re surfacing, were funded by MBBA after Highways cleared the route. The bridleway gate at the end of the route has also been re located for ease of use. The stile on this route has now been replaced with a bridleway gate and the route is clear to ride through to Witham Friary.
Stonedown UCR, Alham 2008
After three years of negotiations, the entire lane length has finally been resurfaced, ditched and hedged. There have been many glitches along the way and thanks go to member Yvonne Sommer for relentlessly pursuing Highways, which eventually did a splendid job on this route.
Complete Upgrade of Burnt House Drove, near Shepton Mallet
Burnt House Drove was claimed as a dedication several years ago by MCTT, however the surface of the route was not improved at that time in line with SCC guide lines and as such has been extremely boggy for many months of each year, thus rendering it unrideable in all but the driest conditions.
MBBA member Irene Minty was concerned by this situation and speaking on behalf of local riders asked MBBA for their help. After a number of site meetings, work commenced on the gateway area earlier this month and the results are shown below.
Having negotiated match funding with Mendip District Council, MBBA have allocated a further £2,000 (half the cost of the £4,000 bill) to be spent on this route in August in order to create a good riding surface.
For the whole project, the total bill for MBBA will be nearly two and a half thousand pounds – money well spent in order to bring the route up to standard and allow riders to use this pretty lane. The photos show the route as it is today; the ‘after’ shots will be available for comparison when work is completed!! Contractors are due to begin work in the latter half of August and while this resurfacing is in progress it is regretted that the route will be closed for a week.
|Burnt House Drove at the beginning of works|
Tanners Lane – A Successful Result
No objections were received by Somerset County Council regarding the outcome of the recent Public Inquiry into the lane’s status. The inspector ruled that the route should be reclassified as a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic) and changes will therefore be made to the definitive map to reflect this.
This route is now open to riders. The squeeze stile has been removed and the top half of the lane has been fenced to protect adjoining stock straying onto the route. The cost of clearance and fencing was funded jointly by the land owner and MBBA .
Although this route has been classified as a BOAT, you should not meet motorised traffic while riding this narrow lane as it exits onto Restricted Byways at the Northern end thus making it, in effect, a dead-end with no turning place for vehicles. Horse riders will now be able to access these Restricted Byways more safely without riding on the busy main road.
Huckeymeade and Hembridge Drove, East Pennard. 2007
Mendip Bridleways and Byways Association have recently improved the condition of these two Droves using money raised from the excellent Glastonbury Festival Fun Ride held in September 2007. Local landowner Bernard Kingston assisted by doing a superb job of cutting back hedges and digging out the ditches. Local contractors Tom Yeoman of Ditcheat and Roger Cox of East Pennard did a good job improving the surfaces.
For many years local horse riders from around East Pennard, Ditcheat, Parbrook and Lottisham had been asking for help to improve the surfaces of the Droves. Over the years lack of maintenance and neglect had resulted in the route becoming virtually impassable for horses because of thick clay bogs, brambles and fallen trees. There are very few safe off-road routes for horse riders to use in this area and therefore Hembridge and Huckeymeade are important as they allow riders to get off the narrow lanes and busy roads. Unfortunately because these two Droves were not on the Definitive map as either an unclassified county highway or bridlepath, Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council were unable to help so MBBA decided to use the money raised from the Fun Ride on the Festival ground to improve the route.
A total of £2,900 has been spent on Hembridge and Huckeymeade by MBBA, with both Droves being open to riders from November 2007. Again special thanks to Bernard who gave us so much help and support.
|Hembridge Lane before clearance||Hembridge Lane after clearance|
Kennel Lane, Restricted Byway, East Pennard. 2007
This restricted byway running through beautiful woods behind East Pennard church had become unusable by horse riders due to extensive overgrowth of vegetation and the fact that a stream with steep banks bisects the track. The crossing of the stream was only possible on foot using two planks of wood.
Kennel Lane was looked at in detail jointly by MBBA committee members and Shelia Petherbridge (Mendip District Council Rights of Way Officer) with a view to reopening it to horse riders. With Shelia overseeing the work, the route was cleared and an “equine” bridge was installed by MDC over the stream. The bridge is wonderful, by the way, so do get out there on your horse and use it!
This route was fully open by November 2007 with MBBA contributing £1,800 towards the costs. Our thanks go to Shelia for overseeing this successful joint venture between MBBA and MDC. The improved Kennel Lane is now enjoyed by local dog walkers and cyclists too, which is good news. If any local rider would like to become a member of MBBA or help at our Fun Rides please call 01749 831 276.
Further surface works have now been completed, funded by MBBA and Mendip District Council.
The equine bridge constructed over the stream at Kennel Lane bridlepath, East Pennard