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Partners earn their spurs for bridleway scheme

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Horse riders

A team effort which resulted in horse riders being able to enjoy a better and safer day in the saddle in Gateshead has won national recognition.

The British Horse Society (BHS) has awarded a prestigious Route Creation Award for a project to build a one kilometre bridleway linking Blackhall Mill with Chopwell Woodland Park.

The scheme saw the Forestry Commission work with Chopwell Wood Horse Riding Association, Gateshead Council and Fiona Armstrong who owns Armondside Farm.

Carving its way through the scenic 340 hectare (900 acre) wood, the all-weather bridleway continues over grass pasture through the farm.

The result has been a massive improvement to access for local riders who previously had to use busy public roads to reach the popular woodland. 

Wendy Suddes, Regional Co-ordinator for the BHS said:

"With traffic becoming heavier, schemes like this are desperately needed.  It’s pretty unique in my experience for so many organisation to work together to achieve such a great outcome. They all deserve a massive pat on the back and richly deserve the award."

Chopwell Wood Horse Riding Association - which has 140 members - pushed for the link for many years.  Chairman John Thompson added:

"Chopwell is very popular and we get riders coming from as far afield as Sunderland.  The new bridleway is a fantastic addition and makes life better and safer for our members."

Gateshead Council contributed funding and also built the Armondside Farm section of the route.  The entire bridleway has now been designated as a legal right of way.

Alex MacLennan Recreation, Communities & Tourism Manager with the Forestry Commission, said:

"Everyone chipped in and did their bit  on this project which was a challenge to deliver and the award from the BHS is the icing on the cake.  We are keen to welcome horse riders to explore our woods."


Notes to Editor

  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.  For more information go to

    Other links:
    Chopwell Wood Riding Association
    British Horse Society
    Gateshead Council

  2. Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038