The bridleway at High Gill above Horsehouse. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

The bridleway at High Gill above Horsehouse. Photo: Karl and Ali CC-BY-SA-2.0

An off-road motorcyclist was given an on-the-spot fine after a police officer gave chase to a group illegally riding on a bridleway.

The man was caught on a Yorkshire Dales route reserved for walkers, pedal-cyclists and horse riders, though seven others escaped the officer.

The incident happened in Coverdale, above the village of Horsehouse, on the bridleway leading up High Gill towards Fleensop.

The group was spotted by Sergeant Stuart Grainger of North Yorkshire Police’s Leyburn and Dales team.

“There is a clear sign showing a motorbike crossed out as you turn off the main road and another attached to the gate they had to open to proceed up the bridleway, so there was a clear prompt even if they claimed they didn’t know the law concerning bridleways and footpaths,” he said.

“I got between some of them and stopped the last two going up. The others looked back and shot off up the bridleway.

“I ran after one of them and grabbed hold of his backpack but he kept pulling away and I chose to let go of him rather than him falling off the bike.

“However, another one got stuck further up the track so I brought him back down and issued him with a £30 ticket for riding on a bridleway. The rider I stopped was from the Richmond area, so they may all have been local.

“Luckily there were no walkers using this narrow bridleway at the time, because had there been, they would have been put in danger by this group, or, at the very least, they would have found it intimidating and disruptive.

“I will be contacting local trail-riding groups to ask them to remind members that bridleway and footpath use is illegal and damaging.”

Nigel Metcalfe, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s area ranger for Lower Wensleydale, said: “The majority of trail riders and 4×4 users who come into the national park to ride on green lanes are responsible people who help to protect this fragile landscape by obeying the signs and going only where they are allowed.

“But there are always a few who think they are above the law and can go where they want, irrespective of the damage they may cause to the land and its wildlife.

“We work closely with the police to patrol bridleways and footpaths that are being used illegally and we would urge members of the public to help by reporting any incidents.”

The park authority pointed out it is illegal to drive a car or ride a motorbike on any public footpath or bridleway, so trail riders and 4×4 users are urged to make sure they know where they can legally drive away from the metalled road.

More information is available on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority website and from organisations such as the Trail Riders Fellowship.