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

Wickham Way badger and rabbit holes – planning

Here is our newsletter sent today to 314 members and stakeholders of the Hodgemoor Riding Association. If you would like to be included, membership is as low as £5 p.a. for walkers and cyclists and £20 for horse-riders (https://hodgemoor.org.uk/riders/)

Wickham Way badger and rabbit holes

Susie and Marcus had a useful meeting on Monday 5th July at the Wickham Way bridlepath approaching the Spring Link where badgers and rabbits have been tunnelling and creating critical danger for horse riders… well, of course, for the horses themselves.

The meeting was organised by Phill Fox, the Rights of Way Structures Inspector in the Rights of Way Operations of the Highways & Technical Services, Buckinghamshire Council, with the Buckinghamshire Badger Group (www.bucks-badgers.org.uk), Alison Wolfreys and Mike Collard. They were able to advise Phill, as they have done in the past, on the ways of keeping the badgers and rabbits from tunnelling under the bridleway there. The subsoil is delightful soft sand; the badger sett, discreetly hidden on the north side of the bridleway, is the biggest in Hodgemoor. Next step is for Phill to take the case to the Ecology experts of Buckinghamshire Council and to apply for the license from Natural England in accordance with statutory guidance given by the Secretary of State. (see https://www.gov.uk/…/2020-badger-control-licences… and elsewhere for further reading). It looked as if no active badger holes would be affected if Bucks Council could proceed with the works to protect passing horses. The preferred solution is a vertical two-metre-deep grid of wire along 90 metres of the north side of path, which will either deter tunnelling or make the badgers tunnel at such a depth that a horse stepping on the surface will fall through.

We were also pleased to have the presence and points of view of Ian Hawes, Seer Green resident and active with Tiggywinkles, the free wildlife hospital, the busiest and most advanced in the world, in Haddenham (www.sttiggywinkles.org.uk).

We first reported to the authorities the danger of this section of the bridlepath in November 2019 and the issues were discussed at our AGM at the end of 2020. You can find the report at www.hodgemoor.org.uk//wp-content/uploads/2020/11/agm2020.pdf . It reads “The meeting agreed   that the Association   should contribute to   the cost of   doing this if Bucks CC can’t meet full cost, as it was a top priority to make this much used bridleway and access to the woods safe.” The committee will be asked to approve a final figure. Covid-19 has been partly to do with the delay to the process but the energies in place make it possible that the works can be done this year before the embargo on badger control strarting November each year.

You can see videos of adorable badger cubs in this very sett taken by Harry Whiting of St Giles … https://hodgemoor.org.uk/walkers/nature-videos-and-photos/. Please do not visit the sett (but be informed that Alison and Mike might make a night-time census of the badger numbers in the near future). No badgers will be culled and it looks as if no active setts will be interfered with.

https://hodgemoor.org.uk/…/badgers_hodgemoor_2018_Harry.avi

https://hodgemoor.org.uk/…/badgers_hodgemoor_2018_2_Harry.avi

 

Volunteer Clearing – your woods need you

Help clipping back the edges of the trails or digging water run-offs where they have filled up. Come for an hour or two. You know how much Susie, Marcus and one or two committee members work in the woods on your behalf… now is the chance for you to say thank you and play your part, especially as the membership fee is so tiny! We are proposing a variety of dates so that you cannot be occupied elsewhere on every date!

  • This Sunday 18th July: The Seer Green loop starting near Widmer Equestrian.
  • Saturday 14th August 10h: Hodgemoor Woods car park
  • Sunday 29th August 10h: Hodgemoor Woods car park

 

Wickham Way grass cut

I have topped the grass on each side of the Wickham Way from Seer Green / St Giles to the east end of the wood (map https://hodgemoor.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/map-of-hodgemoor-wood_orig.pdf). Nice conditions there and in Hodgemoor.   I have also topped the wide verge in Narcot Lane and will give it another go soon. No charge to Hodgemoor. Mini XC jump field closed till the hay is cut.

 

Pip has been found

We are so pleased that Hodgemoor’s Facebook is such an active help to the local community. A lady from Chorleywood lost her miniature dachshund on 30th June. We helped, along with other Facebook pages like the Chalfont St Giles Selling and Information Group, to put out the word. Many volunteers went out into Hodgemoor even at night to look for Pip. By a miracle she was found 5 days later on the other side of the main road, safe and sound; just wandering around getting hungry. Harriet wrote “PIP HAS BEEN FOUND! The best news. The community has just been amazing. Thank you everyone for sharing and looking. I am blown away by the support “.

 

Redevelopment of Perkins Elmer site

Proposed redevelopment of Perkins Elmer site on main access route from Seer Green into Hodgemoor: please submit your views’ There is a proposal to replace the existing office building with 31 new homes on this site located right on the double bend on Chalfont Road and the turn-off into Rawlings Lane, the main access route for horse-riders into Hodgemoor Woods. To the eye, a well-designed development would probably be preferable to the existing office building, but the proposal does not appear to have taken into account that traffic will increase throughout the day, and although pedestrians and cyclists are mentioned for a possible new entrance, no consideration is given to horse-riders. We would be grateful if you could submit your views on www.landatchalfontroad.co.uk and make it clear that this dangerous double bend is in constant use by horse-riders and what do the developers plan to do to keep them safe.

 

Donations

It is heart-warming when we get an ex-gratia donation to your association; that means more in the kitty for creating and maintaining the wonderful all-weather trails in Hodgemoor. Today we thank a lady who would prefer to remain anonymous who gave £65 … she has ridden a few times in the area and has fallen in love with what we do. Thank you.

 

Dressage as an art form

“If the art were not so difficult we would have plenty of good riders and excellently ridden horses, but as it is the art requires, in addition to everything else, character traits that are not combined in everyone: inexhaustible patience, firm perseverance under stress, courage combined with quiet alertness. If the seed is present only a true, deep love for the horse can develop these character traits to the height that alone will lead to the goal.”

Gustav Steinbrech

Processionary Moth in Hodgemoor

Processionary Moth in Hodgemoor

Message from Forestry England…

“I wanted to let you know that Oak Processionary Moth has been found at Hodgemoor. This is a potentially hazardous species that can cause skin irritation and breathing difficulties. At present there is only one confirmed site on the edge of the woodland and the risk is very small to the public. Contractors will be making several site visits to treat the affected tree and conduct follow up visits.

“Can you please share the attached leaflet with your members; this provides greater detail on the moths and what to look out for.

processionary_moth.pdf

Regards, Rob

Rob Bell

Beat Forester – Chilterns

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