Don't know where to ride? New to an area?
The first thing I suggest you do is to take a look at the maps listed below. This will give you an idea of the offical routes that you have a right by law to use. You can only ride on roads, bridleways, byways and restricted byways, NOT footpaths (unless the landowner gives you permission).
If there is a yard nearby call in and see if they know of any other places to ride, maybe even ask to ride out with them.
Buy an Ordnance Survey Explorer map of your area (orange cover), this will show bridleways as long green dashes and byways as green crosses. You can get these from a good newsagent or you can buy on line from http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/. You can even buy a map that is centred on your house. These maps are not however always 100% up to date as additions can take years to find their way onto the offical maps. If you want to see the very lastest rights of way you will need to take a look at the local definitive map of your area mentioned below.
Local Definitive maps
Your Parish Council and library should hold a printed copy of the detailed definitive maps of your area. These are very detailed large scale maps and they should have been kept up to date with all current changes. You can also now view the definitive map online at www.stratus.pbondemand.eu/connect/essexhighways/?mapcfg=PROW_10KMaps .This website take a while to load but gives you access to ECC on-line definitive map which shows you the very latest updates to the map and give path numbers. Left click on any route will generate a data box, in this, under the heading Central Assist I.D. there are 2 numbers, the second of these is the path or track number, eg - 18-33 is Bridleway 33.
These are rights of way that farmers have been paid under a special DEFRA scheme to provide. Don't get too excited as they are very few and far between and do not get very well advertised. To see if you have any in your area take a look at the DEFRA web site http://cwr.naturalengland.org.uk/Default.aspx?Menu=Menu&Module=CountryWalksFullSearch. These include walks as well as rides so be careful to check the legend to make sure it has the horse symbol. The routes are well marked on the ground and there is usually a map of where they link to other bridleways in the area. DEFRA are not renewing any agreements or creating any more so these permissive routes will gradually be phased out. Oh well it was good while it lasted.
Two possible rides start from Great Notley Discover Centre, Braintree, Essex CM77 7FS.
Ride 1 - The Flitch Way - a 13 mile there and back ride
This ride is on a total of about 13 miles of surfaced bridleway along part of an old disused railway line. This is a "there and back" ride with a possible refreshment stop at a pub half way. Please note that the route includes a long (safe) bridleway bridge over the A120. Some people find the surface a little hard but it is a good ride to do in the winter/autumn when everywhere else is knee deep in mud as the surface stays good all year round. Click here for map of route.
Ride 2 - White Notley - a 13 mile there and back ride with a loop
This ride starts off around the park and then out into the countryside of Great Notley. About 50% of the ride is on minor roads. The rest is on byways and bridleways. Click here for map of route.
Directions to start for both - Parking at Great Notley Discovery Centre car park. Best to avoid on busy summer days as the Flitch Way is well used by walkers and cyclists. Parking available only on week days and non school holidays. Approx £3 parking fee applies.
Click here for directions to start and more info
Middlewick Farm Ride, Southminster - Off - Road Riding, Pay as you go ride
Open from the first weekend in April until the end of October each year.
Day Tickets Available - £15 adults, £10 children
Off-road riding day tickets are available for the 12 miles of farm tracks with shorter options available, private roads, grass gallops, seawall and optional cross country schooling fences from 1'6" to 2'9". Very flat and open so not good on a windy day but great if you like long canters and jumps.
Horsebox parking, water and toilet facilities are available on site. A booking slot will be required and maps provided. Under 16's must be escorted by an adult.
For more details check their web site http://www.middlewicklivery.co.uk/ or phone Rebecca Lapwood 07950 671149
Directions – Middlewick Farm Livery Yard, Middlewick, The Marshes, Southminster, Essex CM0 7JQ.
Approaching Southminster on the B1018 drive straight through the town and out the other side heading towards Montsale. Follow this road for about 2.5 miles until you reach a sharp right hand bend in the road. Do not go around the bend but go straight ahead through the metal gates. Follow this track for about a mile, around a left hand bend until you reach Middlewick Farm.The metal gates are normally locked so you need to call for an appointment - do not just turn up.
Riding on Holkham beach Norfolk
This beach is one of the best beaches you can ever ride on; miles of flat golden sand with plenty of room for everyone. Riding on Holkham beach is permitted 365 days a year.
Click here for details.
Riding in Thetford Forest
Thetford Forest is a great place to ride as you can ride almost anywhere on lovely grassy strips between the trees. There are many separate parts of Thetford forest but the nearest part to Essex is Kings Forest.
Directions to public parking at Kings Forest:
From M11 - On the map the most straight forward route looks like you just go up M11, A11, then A14 past Newmarket, back on A11 towards Thetford, then about 5 miles past the Weather Heath War Memorial (looks like Nelsons Column) turn right at traffic lights onto the B1106. Follow for about 5 miles, go past fire road 201, the public car park on the left opposite fire road 203 is where you would be able to park (gets busy at weekends and in nice weather).
From A131 – to Sudbury, A134 towards Bury St. Edmunds, at Southgate Green take the 3rd exit on Rougham Road/A1302, go through 1 roundabout and then take 1st exit onto A14 ramp to Newmarket/Thetford/A134/Diss/A143. At junction 43 take the A143 exit to Bury St Edmunds, central/Thetford A134/Diss. At roundabout take 4th exit to A143, at next roundabout take 1st exit A134 again towards Thetford. Keep following the A134 and in the village of Ingham a few yards past the post office/village shop and red phone box turn left into Calford Road B1106. Follow for a few miles and then at the give way sign turn right and follow the B1106 through Wordwell, go past fire roads 206 & 204. The large public car park on the right opposite fire road 203 is where you would be able to park (gets busy at weekends and in nice weather).
As a private rider you do not need to purchase a licence or pay for parking.
You can access the forest directly via a path that leads out from the back of the car park.
You are allowed to ride everywhere except in archery area and where notices say conservation ride.
Click here for map of Kings Forest (only Fire roads are way marked)
Riding in Hatfield Forest - Annual and day passes
Annual Private Permit: £58 plus £15 new tabard charge
Day Permit: £10 plus £10 deposit
Ride your horse on Hatfield Forest and enjoy the tranquility and safety of this interesting and beautiful
1049 acre property. Follow in the hoofprints of the Norman gentry! For further details about an Annual
Permit, please call our Estate Office. Day Permits are sold at the shop during normal opening hours as published in the NT Members' Handbook or at the web address below. Terms and Conditions apply.
Estate Office: 01279 870678 / Shop: 01279 870327).