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Horse riders in Protest Parade at failure to complete the Pennine Bridleway at Glossop

image for illustration only - Event Rider Victoria Bax Using Golly Galoshes Out Hacking low res. Photo by Thoroughbred Sports Photographyimage for illustration only - Event Rider Victoria Bax Using Golly Galoshes Out Hacking low res. Photo by Thoroughbred Sports Photography

Horse riders in Protest Parade at failure to complete the Pennine Bridleway at Glossop

At noon on Saturday May 6th, horse riders, who will be joined by runners and cyclists, will meet at Hargate Hill Equestrian Centre near Glossop to ride along the dangerous roads they are expected to use because of the failure of Derbyshire County Council (DCC) and Natural England (NE) to complete the Pennine Bridleway. Local horse riders have identified a potentially much cheaper alternative route for the gap but DCC are failing to take the initiative and work with partners to consider this or other solutions which means that horse riders, cyclists and walkers continue to be put at risk.

Since the launch of the BHS’s Horse Accident web site in November 2010:

  • There has been 2,510 reported road incidents involving horses
  • 38 riders have died
  • 222 horses died at the scene, or were put to sleep as a result of their injuries

The Pennine Bridleway (PBW) is one of 15 long-distance National Trails in England and Wales only 2 of which are accessible to horse riders and cyclists. The PBW stretches from Ravenstone Dale in Cumbria to Middleton Top in Derbyshire. The National Trails website says that “The Pennine Bridleway offers horse riders, cyclists and walkers the opportunity to explore 205 miles of the Pennines’ ancient packhorse routes, drovers roads and newly created bridleways”.  Although it was officially opened in 2012, around Glossop and Charlesworth, horse riders, walkers and cyclists still have to take to dangerous roads for five to six miles. It also means that the Pennine Bridleway is not being used as much as it could be despite having cost taxpayers many millions of pounds since it was started almost 20 years ago in 1999.

Bureaucratic budget timing differences between NE and DCC have led to tens of thousands of pounds of money supposedly dedicated to the project going unspent. The terrain for the proposed route for bridging the gap is extremely difficult in places making it slow and expensive to progress.

Three local groups, supported by cyclists and runners, have teamed up to highlight the dangers riders are facing, Peak Horsepower, SPEED and Tameside riders.

SPEED was formed in 2012 following a tragic accident where a horse was killed and the rider seriously injured in Charlesworth. This was on one of the roads riders have to take because of the failure to finish the Pennine Bridleway around Glossop. Derbyshire County Council and Natural England have failed to react to the dangers faced daily by local riders” said Lorna Hawtin of SPEED.

“Many of our members are frightened to go out for a ride. Motorists are impatient, roads are narrow and vehicles go too fast. Sometimes drivers are even verbally abusive to horse riders.  Cyclists and pedestrians are facing the same dangers. We are protesting today because this situation can’t be allowed to continue” said Lesley Cheetham  of Tameside Riders.

“It’s shocking that the Pennine Bridleway that is meant to have horse riding at its heart still has 2% unfinished forcing horse riders onto dangerous roads. It means the investment already made is not being used fully and Derbyshire County Council and Natural England have really let us down” said Charlotte Gilbert, Chair of Peak Horsepower.

Cyclists who are members of the Peak District Mountain Bike Club are also supporting the campaign and sent a message: “Peak District MTB support the completion of a safe, traffic-free Pennine Bridleway and welcome the opportunity to be involved in the consultation process.”

The Protest Parade is being held during the BHS’s Ride Out UK month of May which is intended to celebrate off-road riding.

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