An application was considered in February 2013 by Dorset County Council's Highways Committee for the conversion of the Ridgeway track above Sutton Poyntz and Osmington to what is known as a BOAT - a Byway Open to All Traffic. If the application had been successful, any traffic would have been able to go along the track legally, including in particular motor bikes and 4x4's. This application was one of a large number that were submitted a few years ago, that have been trickling through the system slowly.

The County Council Officers produced an extremely thorough report, including a lot of interesting history. On the basis of this, it was concluded that the track had indeed been used historically as a road, but before the advent of mechanised transport. On this basis, the track received "Restricted Byway" status, which allows the passage of horse-drawn traffic but not of mechanised vehicles. A very satisfactory outcome!

 The map below shows the three tracks that were considered at the Highways Committee meeting:

  • T411 - the Ridgeway track above Sutton Poyntz, the White Horse, and Osmington, extending to near Poxwell;
  • T412 - the track up from Osmington to the White Horse;
  • T413 - the track between Bincombe and Came Down.


A meeting was held in the village on 16th January, to discuss our response to this. It was unanimously agreed that we should do whatever we can as a village to provide good evidence to the Highways Committee, to show that the tracks above Sutton Poyntz and Osmington had not been used to any significant extent by motor bikes or any other motor traffic. The meeting called on as many people who use the tracks to submit representations showing how rarely motor traffic of any sort is encountered.

The following guidance was issued by the Society at the meeting:

Guidance for objectors

The three bridleways being considered are marked on the map above, as T411, T412 and T413. The track from Chalky Road as far as the gate just beyond Margaret’s Seat is not part of this application.

Representations should be sent, by 1st February, to:

The Rights of Way Officer, Countryside Access, County Hall, Colliton Park, Dorchester DT1 1XJ.

By law, representations will only be considered if they contain information on the use or non-use of the bridleways by motorised vehicles. The only period relevant is 1985 to 2005. Issues the County Council cannot consider under the law include Safety, Surface Damage, Noise, Pollution, Suitability, Impact on local people or Environmental impact.

Remember that your representation will be made public.

Information to include in your representation

Your name and address

Reference: T411, or T412 or T413 as appropriate (see map)

Say how long you have been a resident locally, how frequently you have used the bridleways, which part(s) of the bridleway (for example A to D), whether as a walker, rider, runner, agricultural worker etc?

Say what experience you have had of meeting motor vehicles e.g. you have never seen them, or very rarely seen them. Give rough dates if possible. Give any examples you can of motorists being challenged.

State any knowledge of locked gates, barriers, and whether narrower gates were provided for horses.

Say what you have observed the main use of the bridleway to have been.

Complete the statement with a certification that it is true to the best of your knowledge. Sign the statement.


The Sutton Poyntz Society worked closely with the Osmington Society on this matter. We thank the Osmington Society for the excellent information they have provided.  For further information go to the Osmington Society web site.