Horseriders fight for right of way
HORSE-RIDERS are fighting for an official right of way through the countryside between Upware and Wicken. But some boat owners, villagers and East Cambridgeshire Ramblers Association have objected to plans to create a new bridleway, fearing their enjoyme
HORSE-RIDERS are fighting for an official right of way through the countryside between Upware and Wicken.
But some boat owners, villagers and East Cambridgeshire Ramblers' Association have objected to plans to create a new bridleway, fearing their enjoyment of the river will be spoilt by horse dung and other mess in the countryside creating a health risk.
Now the final decision rests with a Government inspector who heard both sides of the argument at a public inquiry this week.
The bridleway would start at Reach Lode Lock running along the bank, over the Cock-up Bridge, turning along Wicken Lode bank and along Harrison's Drove towards Burwell.
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Part of the route along the Lode banks is already a public footpath but the stretch along Harrison's Drove, although used by villagers and National Trust visitors, has not been recorded as a public right of way.
Cambridgeshire County Council has put forward a plan to create a new bridleway which could be used by walkers and cyclists as well as horse-riders.
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Supporter Joy Fuller, of Westmere Farm, Upware, who has used the route for the last 50 years regularly riding her horse and walking her dog through the countryside, said: "Horse-riders are a vulnerable road user group and this route is a super off road way.
"We want it protected forever for everyone to use."
The new bridleway is also supported by Wicken, Burwell and Swaffham Prior Parish Councils, The Fenland Bridleways Association and many local landowners.
But East Cambridgeshire Ramblers' Association has written to the county council to object, fearing that, if the area is allowed to be used by horses, "they will completely ruin and foul the whole area, leaving the usual mess."
In their letter members say: "Schoolchildren from the Upware Centre are frequently taken on educational walks along these paths. Horses and cycles will create danger.
"This generally soft area around Wicken Fen is unique for bird watchers, walkers, the boat owners, etc. and should not be changed in any way."
The public inquiry began in November and concluded on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: "There is certainly a need in the area for a bridleway but we understand the concerns of the objectors and we will wait to see what the inspector decides.