A West Devon meeting this Friday (April 26, 2019) is an attempt to pull together horse riders, cyclists, walkers and other countryside users, to make sure old rights of way are recorded and claimed for the common good before it is too late.

Under pressure from landowners and builders, highways authorities and planning departments, the government some time ago set a deadline of 2026 for the mapping of all paths for which common rights are or might be claimed, on the grounds of old maps and custom and practice. After that, it will be too late to reclaim routes on the basis of gone history.

The British Horse Society has been attempting to build a definitive map of bridle paths and its correspondents have staked a claim on more than 2,000 in Cornwall.

Here in Devon, there has been less voluntary effort but Devon County Council has been more helpful than most authorities and has an officer working her way around the parishes to compile a list of bridle paths, footpaths and Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) and summarise the evidence.

A lobby group called South West Riders is attempting to take the work in both counties forward and its first step is to get democratically organised to improve its legal clout. Its first annual general meeting will be held this Friday night at Bridestowe Village Hall, off the Okehampton Road at EX20 4EW, gathering 6.30 pm for a 7 pm start. The election of officers will be followed by a debate on how to make sure the county maps being prepared for 2026 are as comprehensive as possible.

The riders have invited representatives of other interests, including the ramblers, cyclists and even off-road motorbikers, and the Horrabridge Times has put anglers’ concerns about river access on their agenda. Devon Council’s rights-of-way officer, Caroline Gatrell, and other experts on the procedure for registering claims will be there to answer questions.

SW Riders spokesman Richard Leonard, who lives near Okehampton, said: “Many footpaths and bridleways that should have been placed onto parish council definitive maps have not been. Also, many rights of way have been recorded as footpaths when historically they were used by carts and people on horseback. There is a grave risk of old rights being lost. But we have made good progress in some directions and we are now in a position to give some guidance to others. We are all after the same thing in the end.”

For now, the local representative in South West Riders is the current chairwoman, retired county councillor Gretta Madigan, formerly of Bere Alston, lately living at Brentor. For other contacts see

Or email with your interest and we’ll forward it. Next week’s Horrabridge Times will report on this week’s meeting.

The British Horse Society map so far, with not much logged around here, can be drilled down into at

using the password 2026.


The Shed, where the Horrabridge Times is put together, is sorry to be a little late learning of the passing of the writer Jessica Berens, a classy act who interviewed for Tatler magazine and once performed in a Puff Daddy video, but spent most of the past several years in Tavistock.

                                                                                      Jessica Berens (pic borrowed from Telegraph)

She did some local journalism, including a nice sketch for The Spectator about going to see The Stranglers at Tavistock Wharf – find it HERE

But mainly, she worked at Princetown Prison, and then wrote a campaigning book about what she learned there.

She died, aged 59, at the end of March, less than three years after publishing Short Sentences, an amusing but sometimes angry account of being banged up for long days along with proper prisoners and trying to get the Home Office to listen to either of them about what it was like.

Her obituary in the Daily Telegraph recalled her story about Colin, who was in for GBH, wanting to know if she was a lesbian …

“Not as far as I know.”

“So why can’t we get married then?”

“For reasons far too numerous to list.”

She also recalled hesitating when she needed to walk down a dark corridor with a lifer in for sex offences …

She said: “Why aren’t the lights on?”

He said: “Don’t worry Jess, I feel very safe with you.”


Horrabridge Community Association, the team that keeps the school hall open for community use, has a set of officers coming to the end of their commitments and needs new blood at its annual meeting, in the hall on May 8.

Find the agenda HERE

The hall is used more or less every evening, for activities including bowls, exercise classes, badminton, table tennis and martial arts, and for sports camps and so on at weekends and in holidays. The community association organises the bookings and collects the money to keep the venue going. C Can you give a few hours to help? Be there for 7 pm on Wednesday May 8.


Wild Rose, the well-reviewed story of a Glasgow girl who wants to be a Nashville star, opens at the Wharf at 2 pm this Friday (April 26) and returns next week, on Weds May 1 and Thurs May 2. Bohemian Rhapsody on at Buckfastleigh, Saturday April 27.

Foot-stomping folk from Sheelanagig at Calstock Arts, also Friday April 26 … sample at

Porthleven Festival, mainly about food but with buskers and so on, is on all this weekend.(starting Fri April 26).

Saturday is Dartmoor Auctions day in Chagford.

Saturday night, Fallen Cedars and other musicians with a Horrabridge connection have the stage at The Wharf.

Various classical music events included in Tavistock Festival, running all week.

Tuesday April 30, The Garden House at Buckland has a half-day class in planting a shaded area – bookings necessary, £35-£40.

Wednesday onwards, the gardens at Delamore House, near Cornwood, become an open-air art gallery for the summer.

For more events information, see

The Horrabridge Times Postboard, including posters, Cartoon Of The Week, and call for pictures for a 2020 calendar of Horrabridge scenes … HERE

The Horrabridge Times What’s On Calendar, running as far ahead as we can see is HERE

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.