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 Union Jack South Cambs bridleway info




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page edited on 4th June 2010
by Vicki - ©2005-2010

Bridleways and riding routes
in South Cambridgeshire and local area

Thanks for visiting this page!

The contents of this page were originally compiled in 2005 when I lived and rode in South Cambs. Five years later, I'm living in California and so much of this page may be outdated or incorrect. Please email me to alert me of any broken weblinks, new or changed riding routes and any other relevant information, so that I can continue to update this page and keep it as accurate as possible. Thanks! 

I still maintain the website for the Shelford & District Bridleways Group - please visit their site to support local equestrian access! Members of the group can enjoy access to many more permissive routes in the area than listed here and elsewhere on the internet.


Gren and Oz in Hildersham ford

Gren and Oz in Hildersham ford

Where can I legally ride?

Here is a list of Public Rights of Way, many of which horses can use. Also have a look at the Cambridgeshire County Council web page for more information.

  • Public Footpath - walkers only
  • Public Bridleway - walkers, horseriders and pedal cyclists
  • Byway open to all traffic (BOAT) - walkers, cyclists, horseriders including horse-drawn vehicles, and users of vehicles of any type
  • Restricted byway - this is a former Road used as a public path (RUPP) (was due to be re-classified by the government in early 2004) which will have access rights for walkers, cyclists, horseriders and horse-drawn vehicles, even though the routes may not have had equestrian rights when designated as RUPPS. For more information, see the Defra Bridleways web page

Other access:

  • Permissive routes - walks, rides and areas of open access have been provided under the Countryside Stewardship and Environmentally Sensitive Areas Schemes. Some of these also have bridleway access (visit the Defra Walks & Rides web page). Local permissive routes in the area have also been set up. The Shelford & District Bridleways Group can help you out, and there are also some listed below that were active in 2005. 
 Gren and Oz in Hildersham

Gren and Oz on the road from Hildersham heading towards the Roman Road

Bridleways and Riding Routes in South Cambs and area

Bridleways and byways

There are several bridleways and byways in the area, including along the Icknield Way and The Roman Road, around the Fens and in the forests near Thetford. Once you've mapped out your route, it's always a good idea to try it out by bicycle first to check that the route is safe and accessible.

Apart from trawling through your OS maps for these rights of way, you can look at the interactive maps from Cambridgeshire County Council which also detail some of the permissive routes in the area. Contact your local bridleways groups to find out about other unmarked routes in the area, as well as new rights of way and upgrades of footpaths to bridleway status.

Image of front cover of bookI bought a fantastic book called Cambridgeshire on Horseback from the BHS bookshop which details 19 riding routes in the area.

The following five routes are the closest to us in Sawston:

  • Route 2: The Roman Road. A 9.5 mile linear route between Horseheath and the Gog Magog hills. (This is a well known and trodden path of Sawstonites).
  • Route 15: The Brewers Loop. A 10 mile circular route around Steeple Mordon and Ashwell. Gordon and I have cycled the whole route, and it's quite nice, with alternating road work and off-road tracks, and some good galloping spots! 
  • Route 16: Longstowe. A 13 mile circular route between Hayley Wood, Kingston and the Hatleys.
  • Route 17: Kingston. This is a 12 mile circular route around Wimpole Hall. Wimpole Hall (a National Trust property) have permissive riding tracks in their grounds and you can apply for riding permits to use them.
  • Route 19: Hatley and Gransdens. A 12 mile circular route.

The Icknield Way

The Icknield Way is an ancient road that runs from the Chilterns to East Anglia for more than 120 miles. Leaflets describing the Icknield Way Riders Route are available from the tourist office, and there is also a book A Guide to the Icknield Way written by Elizabeth Barrett (Wimpole Books, Pip's Peace, Kenton, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 6JS). Part of this long-distance route runs from Balsham - Linton - past Hadstock - to Great Chesterford. The route also crosses the Roman Road, and joins up with other bridleways and the Abingdon permissive 'hatband' ride. See your OS map for details.

The Roman Road

The Roman Road runs east-west for about 9.5 miles from Horseheath towards Cherry Hinton. This public byway is open to horses but not motorised vehicles - see your OS map for details. Together with some other bridlepaths that lead off the byway, and the Icknield Way which bisects the Roman Road north-south and some quiet-ish lanes, you can tag some circular routes onto this otherwise linear route. Please do not trespass onto adjacent fields - you will get shouted at by the landowners!

Abington Countryside Riding Club 'Hatband' ride

This is a permitted rides scheme which has been organised locally. There are two circular routes which join with a section of the Icknield Way: one ride is about 1 hour, the other about 2 to 2.5 hours. Membership to the scheme costs £6 (as of May 2005) which then permits you to use the routes from April to September.
Email for details of joining the scheme.

Permissive routes with bridleway access in the Sawston area:

See the list at the Defra walks and rides webpages. In addition, there are other permissive tracks in the area - see below and contact your local Bridleways Group for more information.

Permissive tracks from the Shelfords

In addition, you can get written permission from Anthony Pemberton (Trumpington Farm Co., Church Farm, Trumpington, Cambridge, CB2 2LG) to ride all his tracks from Rectory Farm, Great Shelford through to Hauxton Mill. The gate (new and horse friendly) is opposite Kingsmill Lane, Great Shelford, near the church. It gives many miles of off-road riding.

riders in Thetford forest

Thud, Bailey and Missy on a ride in Kings Forest, Thetford (organised by East Anglian Trails, now Camino Riders)

Thetford Forest

Horse riders can enjoy free access in the recreational areas of Thetford Forest. Carriage driving is permitted in all Forestry Commission Areas open to the public but permits are required (Tel 01842 810271). Have a look at the Forestry Commission webpages.

Beach riding

Holkham Bay (Norfolk)

Holkham Bay, between Kings Lynn and Wells-next-the-Sea (grid reference TF888448), lies along the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast path and is part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve. Horses are permitted on this stretch of beach all year round with no day or time restrictions; this is where the Household Cavalry visit when they are at Bodney camp. The bay stretches for miles and is very wide and sandy with shallow sea. Horsebox parking is available down Lady Ann's Drive and is currently charged at £7.50 per day.

The Site Manager, Hill Farm Office, Main Road, Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk NR23 1AB
Tel: (01328) 711183

Holme (Norfolk) 

While horse riding is allowed on most of the beach, the sand dunes are protected.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust
Telephone 01603 625540

More information

The British Horse Society have a good online article about riding on beaches.

Riding in Norfolk

For details and maps of the following and other routes see the Norfolk Bridle and Cycle routes webpage:

  • Harling Drove
  • The Fens (SW Norfolk)
  • Hockwold-cum-Wilton Bridle route - a 10 mile circular route.
  • Swaffham Bridle route - a 21 mile circular route.

  • Thetford Forest
  • The Peddars Way national trail links with the Icknield Way

Links to Bridleway organisations

Local bridleways groups:

National Bridleways organisations:

  • The Byways and Bridleways Trust is a charitable trust set up in 1979 to protect Britain's ancient minor highways, otherwise known as byways and bridleways.
  • The Toll Rides (Off Road) Trust (TROT) is an organisation that works with local landowners and forestry agencies to provide a network of off-road riding routes in the South East and other counties. Riders pay a small fee for their permit which allows them to use the routes. Unfortunately, there are not yet any routes in East Anglia.

Other related links: and it's authors do not accept any responsibility for the content of webpages that we have linked to from this website, or for any mistakes or inaccuracies in the content of this site. Please inform us of any mistakes by emailing the link above.