New map of Hodgemoor

Thanks to our friends Bob Beresford and Mark  Thompson in the Thames Valley Orienteering Club, we are proud to make available to riders, cyclists, walkers and all users of Hodgemoor Woods a new detailed map (thumbnail on the right).

The bridle-paths are shown in red and the permissive horse trails (where cyclists may also ride) are shown in blue. Neither cycling nor horse-riding is permitted on the footpaths (in black) or elsewhere in the woods (Forestry England bye-laws). Roads are in light brown.

You can download an A4 copy at 830kb at https://hodgemoor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/hodgemoor_map.jpg

This map has a QR code which is used on display posters in the woods and in horse livery yards for users to access on their smart phones. Point you smartphone camera at the QR code, then click on the yellow link which appears towards the bottom of your screen.

We also have a high definition copy at 2.16mb which you can get from us by email; request at chairman@hodgemoor.org.uk

Water run-offs and dry trails

Here are the photos of Frank Everest at work and the water run-offs afterwards. Success. The trails have negliible standing water on them. More text below the images.

This started off as a little posting to thank Frank for digging out the water run-offs last Friday. It is turned into a much wider celebration of everything that is good in people. It’s easy to post a rant, isn’t it, and unfortunately NextDoor.com is full of them. So when something is good in life, we owe it to ourselves to post that as well. Susie and I find it such a privilege to be part of a very positive group of people, the horse riders, who have found a way over the years to coexist beautifully with walkers and cyclists (in all but a very few cases). There has been peace in the woods for many years, and we all relish the idea that so many people can benefit, both in physically and mentally, from it as an amenity for all of us. It has been very difficult to get more than three or four people at a time out for the volunteer sessions when we chip away with our little spades or clip away with secateurs. So when there is major work to be done we normally have to recourse to spending tens of thousands of pounds of club money (your money, not tax payers’) to get the contractors in. By the way, the next phase of trail renovation will probably be in summer 2024.

One task which does not require a huge contract is digging out the water run-offs, or ‘grips’ as Forestry England call them. These are needed so that water does not accumulate on the path but runs off into small metre-long man-made ponds off the side. Water pooling on the trails means the horses hooves turn it to mud and that little stream of water eventually destroy the surface of the trail. Remember, building the trails costs about £110 per metre; and that’s your money, members’ contributions, and some fundraising.

Imagine our delight, then, when Lana Craker of Waylands Equestrian, long-term supporter of the Hodgemoor Riding Association, called us to say that her partner Frank Everest was willing to deploy one of his diggers and his own services for a day. Having got the permission of Forestry England (thank you Rob and Simon) and completed the Health and Safety paperwork requirements we managed to get out in the woods on Friday. I had marked most of the sites and accompanied him throughout. Frank’s skill both in the dig and in the beautifying enabled us to complete two days’ work in four hours between nine and one, including the really big culverts on Susie’s Loop east side and the Mount (top and bottom). I am extremely grateful to Frank and appreciative of his fine work.

But you can see why I choose to write about the bigger picture. When we work together it can be harmonious and satisfying. That is a life many of us like to lead.

Post-script 3 days later. Success. I have been looking in the last couple of days at the results of digging out the water run-offs by Frank Everest and the results are excellent. In every case, the trail is free of water, even after these heavy rains, and the run-off shows signs of water having been collected, and then absorbed. we feel confident that the life of the paths are greatly extended by this work. A stitch in time saves nine. Comments always gratefully received. Marcus

Clearing the water run-offs on the trails in Hodgemoor Woods

On Friday 13th October 2023 our friend Frank Everest will be using one of his mini-diggers under Forestry England supervision to clear the silt and debris from about 50 grips along the trails in Hodgemoor Woods. Thank you Frank

    1. A grip is what Forestry England call a water run-off, that is a hollow in the earth next to the trail into which rainwater can flow. Why are they important? If water lies on the trail then the passage of cyclists and especially horses turns the surface into mud and breaks up the hardcore hoggin if which the surface is made. Such degradation massively shortens the life of the trails on which the Hodgemoor Riding Association has spent over £250,000. You can see the detail of these sums on our web site at HodgemoorRidingAssociation_21year_income_deployed
    2. With the passage of time silt and debrtis runs off the trails and fills up the grips, rendering them useless. See the four images at the bottom of this page. Regular emptying of the grips is therefore essential. We will be giving attention to those on the steep parts of the trail, notably at the Mount, where diagonal channels lead rushing rainwater away from the path. The places where work is needed have been indcated with yellow marker on 10 October (right).
    3. We can remind members that at the request of Forestry England cyclists have been permitted to use the horse trails, without contributing money, since 2017. Cyclists are not allowed anywhere else in Hodgemoor, neither on the footpaths nor free-riding.
    4. The minutes of our last AGM recorded “370 metres of trail repairs were done in October 2019 at a total cost was for £29,800 to which the Association contributed £15,300, about half. Forestry England agreed to pay half this time because of new regs imposing on us a contractor which was more expensive than our regular one. You can see a map at https://hodgemoor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/hodgemoor_trail_works_2019_map.pdf · With income of about 5,000 p.a., the Association would by 2024 have about £28 ,000 available with which we could rebuild 350 metres if the rate is still £80/metre (if FE do not contribute). Forestry England would prefer to wait till 2024 and do more metrage as the last works were disruptive. With that in mind, the the Chairman and Secretary proposed next works in 2024, for economies of scale. The meeting agreed.”
    5. How are we doing with trail repairs? We request members (and walkers and cyclists) to let us know where you think work is needed. Susie and Marcus are compiling a list which will be submitted to Forestry ENgland shortly after the AGM of Monday 20th November. Speak now! Your help is much appreciated (and of course useless if after Nvember!). If a member would like to suggest expenditure of club funds ouside Hodgemoor then please do so. We do have reserves, as published on https://hodgemoor.org.uk/downloads/, Treasurer’s Reports
Health & Safety and Safeguarding

Health & Safety and Safeguarding

The Hodgemoor Riding Association takes its reponsibilities seriously, especially when your health and your safety is concerned (safety in the woods, safety on the roads, cyclists, motor-bikes and quads etc). We are not a registered charity (which would impose onerous cost, tax and regulatory issues); we are a Charitable Unincorporated Association under the United Kingdom’s 2011 Charities Act. Nonetheless, as part of our self-imposed corporate governance, we voluntarily publish our annual accounts, AGM minutes, agreement with Forestry England etc., which you can see at https://hodgemoor.org.uk/downloads/.

Our committee member resonsible for Health & Safety and Safeguarding, Dawn Fleming, has completed four policy statements and we publish them here, links below, and on the documents page of this web site. If you are involved in helping at our events, the documents are obligatory reading.

hodgemoor_health_and_safety_policy

hodgemoor_safeguarding

hodgemoor_event_risk_assessment

hodgemoor_covid19_risk_assessment

Risk Assessments have been done for the Hodgemoor Winter Dressage events currently running, tailored to each event, and Dawn has prepared the generic ones for publication here.

We thank Dawn warmly for this work.

Marcus Bicknell, Chairman, Hodgemoor Riding Association.
16 December 2021 updated 31 January 2022