Three Legged Cross to Burley
We started this journey having to negotiate the River Exe and the city of Exeter and to finish we have to do the same with the River Avon and the town of Ringwood. It all took a lot of planning and here are Elizabeth and I at the final briefing …
We started out along a long bridleway through Ashley Heath and very kindly the Forestry Commission had marked out a permissive route down to join the Castleman Trail; well done to Jean Heaton for negotiating the inclusion of horses as well as walkers and cyclists along the trail.
Scylla had a scary moment whilst negotiating the underpass of the A31 but she was sufficiently shielded by Chuck for her not to be stopped completely by an approaching lorry, its sound amplifying under the concrete bridge.
It was sad that the next length of the Castleman Trail, despite having very wide railway bridges over the river plain, is only designated as a footpath, although used by all. This stretch of riding was only possible with the help of local knowledge. Walkers don’t have to spend time and energy finding out in advance from locals where they can go but the true status of a route is too often not correctly recorded for riders which is most unfair and makes life very difficult to go further afield. We are fortunate in having a means of contacting locals but most riders would have no way of contacting local riders. It is so important for many reasons that routes are correctly recorded and even if a right does not exist, then at the least permissive routes should be appropriately shown on teh Ordnance Survey maps, including riders so a permissive bridleway rather than the increasingly common ‘traffic free cycle route’ which has taken over and gives the impression that riders are excluded.
At Crow we were met by Suzanne Kempe and Sally-Anne Pierson both riding foresters, to be shown the best way across the forest to Burley.
Suzanne is the current chairman of the New Forest Pony Society, so we felt highly honoured, and interested to hear about the ponies running on the forest. We had no idea that there were 4,500 head of equines running out on the forest and that the chosen stallions are only out for a month.
We enjoyed the scenic route along the Smugglers Road and north road Burley Street and hence on into Burley, where we were met by the BHS as well as other supporters and finally dismounted after over 250 miles of traversing some of the best riding in the country.
We have met some wonderful people and seen some amazing countryside and will write a summary in due course.
Many thanks to the New Forest Society for the rosettes; that was a lovely surprise, and to the BHS flowers and the carrots. Thank you to all for your support and making the finale such a celebration.