Patchetts Green Bridleways Trust
 PG: OBJECTS: PROMOTION: H25 London Orbital Bridleroute  H25 
In the mid-1990s, the British Horse Society promoted a plan for a London Orbital Bridleroute. This later became part of the Ride-UK initiative. We are pleased to reproduce the webpage from the BHS East of England website from 2007, to enable the information to still be available. As an archived webpage, links may no longer work.


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The London Orbital Bridleroute (H25) - Plan and Support

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  • The British Horse Society is promoting a scheme for a long distance riding route around Greater London, to be known as ‘The London Orbital Bridleroute’, or ‘H25’ for short. Once complete, the H25 will take its place amongst the other long distance rides in England like The Ridgeway. As the H25 opens, there will be more scope for the development of circular horse and cycle rides leading from the main route. Sections of the route in Hertfordshire are opening now, providing greater opportunities for riders, walkers and cyclists. Work on the Essex section started in July 1998. This route is part of the National Bridleroute Network.


    The rights of way network in the Home Counties has become fragmented for riders because of post-War development. The London Orbital Bridleroute is a mechanism for rejoining the superb pockets of bridleways, making a long distance ride around the capital. Many people would benefit: walkers and cyclists as well as horse riders. The environment will benefit from reduced numbers of horse box journeys to bridleways, increased provision for cyclists (and hence less use of the motor car), landscape development potential (hedging and tree planting). Many of the district councils close to Greater London are enthusiastic, and Hertfordshire County Council has a supporting policy in its draft Structure Plan, to help the planners achieve the route. New paths which will form part of the route are now opening.


    The British Horse Society is promoting a scheme for a long distance riding route around Greater London, to be known as 'The London Orbital Bridleroute', or 'H25' for short. Once complete, the H25 will take its place amongst the other long distance rides in England like the Ridgeway. As the H25 opens, there will be more scope for the development of circular horse and cycle rides leading from the main route. The purpose of this paper is to provide those interested with background information on the scheme.


    Riding is a major outdoor recreation and continues to increase in popularity, providing opportunities for a wide spectrum of the public to participate at all levels of skill. It offers opportunities for informal enjoyment of the countryside very much in harmony with the natural surroundings. In the areas closest to Greater London, the countryside has been sliced into many small segments by massive post-War development including trunk roads, motorways, housing, and industrial and retail sites. The effect on the equestrian community has been to isolate the many riding centres and to destroy the coherence of the ancient rights of way network.

    The H25 will provide a safe off-road route to be enjoyed by riders and others. There are many clusters of bridleways which are delightful for those who live nearby, and the H25 will enable people to reach groups of paths that are currently out-of-reach, without the use of horse boxes.

    The majority of the H25 will be available for pedestrian and cycle use. Where new paths are provided for the H25, these may offer superb opportunities for shared paths that provide cycle links between settlements, and hence assist with the County and District policies of promoting sustainable means of transport.


    Consultations with the Countryside Agency, local authorities and users have resulted in many expressions of support.

    Countryside Agency
    The Countryside Agency said, "Responses we received to our 'Rights of Way in the 21st Century' Consultation paper made it clear that horse riders regard themselves relatively poorly served by the currently available network. In our recommendations to Government (CCP 550) we recognised that attention needed to turn to making improvements to the network through new creations. We therefore welcome, in principle, the development of H25 which will benefit long distance and local users as well as cyclists and walkers." (Oct 99).
    Hertfordshire County Council
    Hertfordshire County Council stated 'The County Council supports the establishment of the London Orbital Bridleroute and will look favourably on schemes which provide or enhance the route' as Policy 42 in the deposited Structure Plan (July 1996).
    Essex County Council
    Essex County Council stated says,"The County Council supports the establishment of both the H25 and the [Thames Chase] Forest Circle and will assist with the implementation of these routes as opportunities and resources permit." at para G.81 of the Essex Local Transport Plan (Jul 00).
    Council Logo
    Three Rivers District Council's local plan includes text as "The London Orbital Bridleroute ('H25') and part of the National Cycle Network cross this District. The Council supports these schemes as set out by the British Horse Society and Sustrans respectively. The anticipated route of the H25 is shown on Figure 8." Policy L.13 reads, "The Council will support and promote increased public access to the countryside, subject to protection of the environment. In particular, the Council will support the establishment of recreational facilities for walking, cycling and horse riding such as the London Orbital Bridleroute ('H25') and National Cycle Network, and will seek to provide local links to them. The Council will work with appropriate organisations to implement these routes as resources and opportunities permit."
    The Watford Borough Council said in the second deposit draft of the new Watford Local Plan, "The Council supports the H25 London Orbital Bridleroute." (June 2001)
    Council Logo
    The Hertsmere Borough Council made a statement of their support for the H25 in their local plan policy M12. "In association with the Watling Chase Community Forest project, the Countryside Management Service, Groundwork Hertfordshire, local user groups and land owners/managers, the Council will seek to increase the opportunities to walk, cycle or ride in the countryside. In particular the Council supports the following long distance path proposals: ... (iv) London Orbital Bridleroute (H25)."
    Council Logo
    St Albans City and District Council's Officers have said that as a connecting route to other parts of the region it has considerable merit, and that they would like to consider the H25 when they come to review their own District Plan. The Council has made an order adding a section of the H25 to the definitive map.
    Council Logo
    The Welwyn Hatfield District Council's local plan (adopted March 1998) includes the text, "The Council supports plans for the London Orbital Bridleroute, H25, which will run through part of the District. The Council will work with appropriate authorities to implement and promote the H25 as resources will permit."

    The deposited local plan (Jan 01) now contains Policy RA 28, "The Council supports the improvement and extension of the bridleway network in the district, including the creation of a London Orbital Bridleway."

    Broxbourne Borough Council's Officers have indicated that the Borough Council is likely to prove supportive of the H25.
    The East Hertfordshire District Council made a statement of support at para 10.10.2 of the deposited local plan: "Structure Plan Policy 49 encourages the establishment of strategic footpaths, bridleways and leisure cycling routes. This includes the London Orbital Bridleroute, promoted by the British Horse Society, known as the H25. ... The District Council will encourage the provision of this route in East Hertfordshire." (28 Jun 01)
    Park Logo
    Lee Valley Regional Park Authority's Park Plan (Part 2) said, "A route across the Valley for the regional bridlepath, H25, to be identified, safeguarded and implemented." as part of the Authority's policies.
    Council Logo
    Harlow Borough Council's officers said that the H25 proposal would be supported in principle, particularly if there was to be direct access to the route from Harlow.
    Epping Forest District Council's officers said that in principle the H25 proposal would be supported. The Council's Countrycare Service's Operational Plan has been altered to show the H25 as a target for the next few years. (7 Oct 99)
    Brentwood Borough Council's officers said that they supported the principle of the H25 and would like to discuss it further.

    It is clear that there is support for the H25 from those who would have to help in its implementation, and from those whose members will use it. The British Horse Society has substantial support from horse riders and their representatives for the H25 scheme.


    H25 outline route A route for the H25 is fairly well defined in Hertfordshire and Essex. Unfortunately, some of the current route has to use minor roads, and the Society with its Partners in the H25 scheme will seek off-road alternatives for the on-road stretches, by negotiation with land owners and occupiers. The Society's local access and bridleways officers will negotiate with the appropriate local authorities, land owners and user groups to define the route more precisely. The route is shown in red on the regional map, left. As the route reaches its final location, gets fully waymarked and approved for use as the H25, it will be shown on future editions of the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps. The sheets concerned are Explorer 172: Chiltern Hills East, Explorer 173: London North - Harrow, Enfield and Explorer 174: Epping Forest & Lee Valley. The waymarks and signs that will be on the route are shown above.
    The Landranger series (1:50,000) maps covering the route are:

  • Landranger Map 176: West London, Rickmansworth & Staines
  • Landranger Map 177: East London, Billericay and Gravesend
  • Landranger Map 178: Thames Estuary, Rochester & Southend-on-Sea
  • Landranger Map 186: Aldershot & Guildford, Camberley & Haslemere
  • Landranger Map 187: Dorking, Reigate and Crawley Area
  • Landranger Map 188: Maidstone & the Weald, Royal Tunbridge Wells

    Notable Events

    Many pieces of bridleway have been opened specially for the London Orbital Bridleroute and other bridleways have been added to the definitive map to ensure the route is safeguarded. ENTRUST, the body responsible for approving projects for landfill tax eligibility, has approved the whole of the H25 in Hertfordshire as being suitable for funding. Read H25 news here.


    When complete, it is expected that the H25 will be some 140 miles in length. This compares with the 113 mile London Orbital Motorway (M25).

    © 2007 British Horse Society and Phil Wadey.