Welcome to the website of the Byways and Bridleways Trust.

The Byways and Bridleways Trust is a charitable trust formed in 1979 to protect Britain’s network of ancient minor highways, more usually known as byways and bridleways. The Trustees were radical in their approach: for the first time an organisation would seek to protect for the public the old roads themselves, rather than fight for the special rights of any group of users. While ‘user organisations’ like the British Horse Society, Trail Riders Fellowship and Ramblers Association approach rights of way from the perspective of the horse rider, trail rider, or walker, the Byways and Bridleways Trust deals with access law, policy and practice, and seeks to keep minor highways open for all reasonable users.

If the RA, BHS, TRF, CTC, etc., can be likened to narrow boat users’ clubs, then the Byways and Bridleways Trust is a canal preservation society.

Nobody can ‘join’ the Trust, or become a ‘member’ in the way of joining a conventional membership organisation. This was a decision taken by the original Trustees as a way of establishing and maintaining the Trust’s purpose and independence; no ‘faction’ is able to influence Trust policy, or stage a take-over. Because of this the Trust does not claim to represent rights of way users’ interests in any mandated or democratic way, but this independence allows the Trust the ability to observe and participate in the minor highway management processes with a detached and objective view. The Trust’s only ‘party line’ is that byways and bridleways are a very good thing, and they should be cherished through sufficient and sensitive use and repair, for this generation and those to follow.

The Trustees’ original method of operation was threefold: publication of the Trust’s house journal Byway and Bridleway; hosting training events; and participating in policy forums at national level. Byway and Bridleway continued as the mainstay of the Trust’s operation, published first on paper, and later as a PDF file, until it ceased at the end of 2012 due to the adverse economics of small-scale publishing. The Trust’s website has stepped in to deliver the type of information that was previously in Byway and Bridleway.

In over three decades of publication, Byway and Bridleway has become a valuable reference resource on rights of way law and practice. There is now a comprehensive index of all the case reports and similar matters, amounting to many hundreds of entries. To make this archive more easily available, together with old seminar papers and miscellaneous reports, the Trust has now made all these materials available via this website.