Volunteering, COVID-19 style

At the suggestions of a couple of members, we invite each of you to spend an hour or two doing regular jobs in the woods. Call Marcus on 07748 111444 of Susie 07876 581144 or email chairman@hodgemoor.org.uk or susie@hodgemoor.org.uk to say when you can come and what you’d like to work on. We will not only be socially distanced but also socially time-slotted, i.e. you will NOT work alongside and at the same time as other volunteers (unless you bring others in your family/bubble). Please do not break government health guidelines for Tier 4.

You can choose from
1) Cutting back growth a metre each side of the horse trails anywhere in Hodgemoor Woods (hand clippers or long-arm clippers). Go deeper with holly which is pernicious because its shade prevents winter sunlight drying the trail off; mud and erosion is exacerbated.
2) Cutting off overhanging branches anywhere in Hodgemoor Woods (lopping saw). The height of horse and rider can reach well over 3 metres, so please reach high.
3) Clearing branches cut by someone else and lying on the ground (gloves)
4) Digging out the drainage channels (called “grips”) each side of the trails (spade). Dig to a full spade depth and discard the earth as far as possible away from the trail.

Xmas Dressage at Waylands – Sunday 20 December 2020 – MEASURES

UPDATE 18h15 Saturday 19th December

By unanimous decision of the committee of the Hodgemoor Riding Association, the Christmas Dressage tomorrow is cancelled.
We regret very much the interruption to our festive and sportive pleasures, but the seriousness of the infection risk is too great. The event will be rescheduled in the future whenever we get to the new normal.
Happy Christmas to everyone despite the bad world news and the impositions of Tier 4 on your lives. Stay safe.
Marcus and Susie


UPDATE 17h40 Saturday 19th December.

Dressage: decision at 19h tonight.
At 17h30 on Saturday the Government’s official web page has not been updated. There is however the transcript of the PM’s speech (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-19-december-2020) which puts us into Tier 4 as of tomorrow. The relevant passage reads “Non-essential retail, indoor gyms and leisure facilities, and personal care services must close” i.e. outdoor sports can continue.
However, some of the organising team join us in thinking that the serious health risk of the “rapid spread … now being driven by the new variant of the virus” means an unwarranted risk for competitors and officials at the event tomorrow. It is also likely that some wouls think of a decision to continue with the event as contentious, i.e. flying in the face of the basics of the new Tier 4 advice, which is “stay at home”.
We expect to make a decision on cancellation at 19h today Saturday.
End of update
At the dressage event tomorrow, Covid-19 measures will be in force. A competitor may be asked not to compete if the measures cannot be respected.

Spectators are not permitted, apologies. Each competitor may bring just one other person as a helper or companion. Therefore, if you are not involved, please do not come.

Competitors: Susie has already emailed you, but do please make sure you have read the Covid-19 Measures, which we attach here in case you do not have them to hand. Most important:

  1.    Ensure the NHS Covid-19 app is loaded on your smart phone and that of your companion.
  2.    Check in with the Covid-19 marshal on arrival (Kay Miklausic till 10h45, then Geoff Gudgion, in the car park before mounting, armed with your smart phone and wearing a mask (not required when on horseback).
  3.    When mounted. do not leave the car park until called forward by a marshal (max 3 horses in the warm-up arena).

Covid-19 Measures_20dec2020

We also await (at 16h45 on Saturday) news of the imposition of Tier 4 in Buckinghamshire and what that means for the event.


Xmas dressage Sunday 20th December 2020 at Waylands

The British Equestrian Federation confirmed on 27 November that “ In all tiers, all equestrian facilities, yards and centres can open for lessons, hire and competitions. Horse owners and guardians can travel to care and exercise horses without restriction including travelling horses away from the yard for exercise, training/lessons, hire or competition”, we are going ahead with our Christmas Dressage on Sunday 20th December.

Please download schedule on dressage_waylands_20dec2020 … it is in MS-Word so you can fill it out and email it back to susie@hodgemoor.org.uk.

We are very grateful to Lana Craker for allowing us to use her indoor school. Please note the Covid-19 instructions on the schedule.

As usual, we would be grateful for help on the day. As it may be cold, having helpers in shifts avoids anyone getting too cold! Because of Covid-19, we will need more help than usual for stewarding: checking each entrant and their companion as they arrive, noting on a list that they have made their Covid-19 declaration, making sure not more than 3 riders in the warm-up arena at a time, collecting score sheets from the judge and taking to the office and making certain each dressed up entrant has had their photo taken for the competition.  i.e. are there any good photographers out there? We would love it if you volunteered. And, of course, someone to add up the score sheets! Please contact susie@hodgemoor.org.uk if you can. We know that you are not quite as busy as usual before this Covid-19-influenced Christmas and could maybe spare the time.

BHS historic bridleways project – act now!

Historic Bridleways rights ending 2026. At the AGM of the Hodgemoor Riding Association on 12th November 2020, committee member Claire James made an excellent short slide presentation explaining simply what is a complicated issue.If we want unofficial bridelway protected they need to be registered by 2026.

Her slides have been uploaded to this web site and can be viewed in pdf by clicking on


Lucinda Starling said the cart track that had always been used down to the former Chalfont Equestrian was one route that could be formalised as a bridleway. Claire said the HS2 works made this even more complicated as the route might still be closed until after 2026. Francesca Jones said the Swerlings had never objected to horse-riders using that track but was certain they would if it was to become an official right of way. Shona agreed with Francesca that we had to be certain to gain rather than lose from the process. Susie it was tricky as to whether to maintain the status quo where horse-riding was allowed but not formalised, or go through the lengthy process for a right of way: with Stratton Chase, the owners immediately put up fierce opposition to it becoming a formal bridleway, but are quite happy to let horse-riders continue to use it as it is.

If any members know of routes that could be formalised, please let Claire James know by email at claireannejames at hotmail.com

The complete minutes for the 2020 AGM are at


Local artists 28 Sept – 4 Oct – Amersham and around

Cécile Gallina, Beverley Parkin, Jenny Thompson and Liz Grammenos of Simpatico and Candida Hackney, having missed Bucks Art Weeks due to the lock down, are now taking part in

Amersham Art Unlocked
28th September – 4th October
10am – 5pm Monday – Saturday, 1pm- 5pm Sunday
at St Michael and All Angels Parish Church, Sycamore Road, Amersham, HP6 5DR

Amersham Art Unlocked is supporting Mind – for better Mental Health – Buckinghamshire
(20% of all Picture Sales will be split between Mind and St. Michael’s Church)

More at http://www.simpaticart.com/

We have now taken the plunge and finally printed our Art Trails which give you details of opening times and location of all studios taking part in the event (image below). We are also offering you a chance to win a £25 voucher for ‘A Little Street Kitchen’ in Amersham. Simply collect as many stamps as you can from the Amersham Art Unlocked venues between Saturday 26th September and Sunday 4th October. If you have not received an Art Trail in your letterbox, you might find one in your local Library or in one of the venues; complete the form and hand it in to your last venue to enter the prize draw. The more stamps you collect the greater your chance of winning! One lucky winner will be chosen at random and notified by 12th October 2020.

Looking forward to welcoming you to the exhibitions in all safety.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance – donate and win

Announcing a fund raiser with some fun for two winning donations… be the guests of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance at their event in Thame on Friday 24th April from 14h-16h. Meet the crew and see the helicopter/critical car response vehicle. Two tickets are available to the two highest donations from Hodgemoor Riding Association members received by the end of March 2020. Donation bids are expected to be in the range of £50 to £250… what a good cause it is, especially if you have a fall sometime.

The background is… The Hodgemoor Riding Association decided in its AGM of November 2019 to donate £250 to Thames Valley Air Ambulance www.tvairambulance.org.uk and £250 to The Brooke Hospital for Animals https://www.thebrooke.org. Both have expressed their gratitude and the Air Ambulance people have extended the invitation to two people to represent us at their event. The idea to raise further donations for them and auction off the two tickets is our idea not theirs.

Place your bid by replying to our Facebook posting as a reply (if you are happy for it to be public) or by Facebook Messenger / email info@hodgemoor.org.uk. Winning donations will be payable in the first week of March, preferably with gift aid. If your bid is for two tickets then please say so, knowing that your competitive bid would be half the total.

Thank you for participating and for helping such a good cause

Trail repairs September 2019

Renovations to the cycling and horse trails in Hodgemoor commence Monday 30 September 2019 for one week. There will be earthmoving equipment in the woods. The car park on Bottrells Lane will be closed. Please don’t park anywhere close to entrances to the woods as the trucks will be in and out from several directions.

You can download a map of the woods showing the trails needing work (about £40,000 worth!) and a tabular list of the detail:



The Forestry Commission (Wendover is our regional office, Rob Bell responsible) and Neil’s Plant apologise in advance for any disruption this might cause. Susie and I were out with them this morning 23 Sept for a site inspection.

Repairs on the trails have been done 5 times since 2000, phase by phase, in coordination with the Hodgemoor Riding Association whose funds go towards the works and who represent cyclists, riders and walkers here.

Please get in touch for further info. Marcus Bicknell, volunteer Forest Warden 07748 111444 marcus@bicknell or by Facebook Messenger. Thank you for you understanding.

The Hodgemoor Wildlife Junior Photography Award

NEW AT THE CHALFONT ST GILES SHOW THIS YEAR: The Hodgemoor Wildlife Junior Photography Award.   The Hodgemoor Riding Association and its 300 members are sponsoring an annual cup and a cash prize in the Junior Photography Section for the first time this year. Since 1999 the Association has raised over £110,000 for the renovation and maintenance of the 6km of horse-riding trails in the woods, improving this popular amenity for all users, whether walkers, cyclists or horse-riders.  Southbank Photography in St Giles is offering framing of the winning entry or a £20 voucher.  

The winner each year keeps this engraved one-pint glass tankard

Blue Close Wood – great little hack from Hodgemoor

Susie and Marcus try to update our list of longer hacks; we all love riding in Hodgemoor but isn’t it nice on a bright day to make a change and go somewhere else, or in addition. Here’s one which Marcus wrote up in January 2019. Happy riding.

The map and this text in pdf form can be downloading by clicking on http://hodgemoor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/blue-close-wood-loop.pdf

A longer list of hacks is at http://hodgemoor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/hodgemoor-longer-hacks.pdf


8. The Widmer to Blue Close Wood Loop

Distance 3km Time 40 minutes

A pleasant ride with the roadwork on almost traffic-free single track. The loop through Blue Close Wood is a joy and horses who enjoy cantering (on the flat and uphill) are in for a treat – but do wear a helmet and beware of overhanging branches and thorny hedges. The short length of time taken makes this loop an ideal addition to a hack round Hodgemoor.

(1) Starting at (1) Widmer Corner (the southwest exit of Hodgemoor Woods with a green metal barrier and space for two cars), go south along the single track road.

(2) Where a bridle path goes off to the right, continue straight on.

(3) After a kilometre there are Seer Green houses on the left. At the junction with a larger road (3), now just in a built-up area, go straight on right for 20 metres and turn right into an opening in the hedge, marked footpath and bridle path. In the field turn immediately left onto the bridle path which goes diagonally west toward the gentle brow, fields either side. You can have a trot or a quiet canter up this path if there are no walkers.

After 200 metres, at the white gates at the brow, slow down because the upcoming downhill path is quiet steep and there is a fence on your left.

(4) At the bottom, marked (4) on the map, turn right onto a nice bridle path suitable for a canter. Welcome to Blue Close Wood. You are now heading north. After 250m there’s a slight zigzag under trees, leading to a gate which is left open. With a tall hedge on your left and a fence to a field on your right, there is another 250m of canter if it has been cut back, but often you might choose to walk or trot.

Now you’re in Bottom Wood still heading north. The trail here looks inviting but there are flints embedded in the path; don’t canter unless your horses is well shod and fit. The grass verge on the left is a bit softer. After 250m you’re at point (5) on our map (first photo, right) and in Starveacre Wood and you meet the bridle path from the A355 crossing at White’s Hill (see “The Coles Hill Loop” on our complete list of longer hacks).

(5) Turn right, eastwards, and prepare for a dash up the narrow flinty path (second photo, right) which many fit horses love to canter up. The hedges in the open air at the top tend to get overgrown in the summer but remain passable, especially if you and some friends were to go there on foot with clippers and give the worst bits a trim. Bucks County Council are meant to clear this bridle path but to our knowledge do not do so. The farmer on either side reaches over when the hedges are being done, so the bridle path hedges get some attention (third photo, right).

(2) Now you’re back at point (2) on the map. Turn left on the single track road and return to Widmer Corner (1)

No liability is assumed by the Hodgemoor Riding Association, its management or members for any eventuality arising from the use of these riding route suggestions. Any risk taken is the rider’s own.