Riders unhappy Wakefield mudslide route remains closed

A Bridleway in Wakefield closed for more than a year has meant local riders being forced to take to unsafe roads to exercise their horses.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 10:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 2:00 pm
Frustrated: Tina Bell,Sue Dickey and Jane Wilkinson are unhappy that the bridleway remains shut.

The path through Coxley Woods is designated for horses and their riders, but has been closed for the past 14 months due to the amount of rainfall and mudslides affecting the area.

The area was looked at by a geotechnical engineer nine months ago to assess what needed to be done, but the area has not been fixed or investigated further.

Wakefield rider, 78-year-old Tina Bell, used to ride her 13-year-old mare Ruby through the bridleway before it was closed.

Tina, who is a retired nurse has ridden on and off since she was 13, and she attends to Ruby every day as part of a large riding community in Midgley.

Tina said: “The bridleway through Coxley Valley is well established.

“We haven’t been able to use the path in over a year because it was fenced off after bad weather. All of us riders have been told that it will be looked at for months by the council, but they haven’t so far.

“Most of the horses are able to be walked on main roads but it is not 100 per cent safe.

“Some of the horses that aren’t that good around cars are having to be cooped up in their stables because they spook easily when out on the roads.

“The council have been good to us. They have fixed the path and a bridge through the valley before when we asked but we have been waiting a long time for the bridleway to be opened back up.”

The riders have been mostly unaffected by Coronavirus due to exercising horses being classed as essential.

The horses must also be more than two metres apart for safety and insurance purposes maintaining social distancing guidelines for the riders.

Gary Blenkinsop, service director for environment, streetscene and climate change at Wakefield Council, said: “This popular bridleway was affected by unprecedented levels of rain last February, causing a landslip.

“We know it’s a place that many residents enjoy using, but it has been necessary to temporarily close the path for safety reason so that we can thoroughly assess and understand the cause of the land slip, before starting repairs.”