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Fortunately incidents like the one recounted below are not a regular occurrence, but still do happen too often. The Hurtwood is becoming increasingly popular, and must be shared by many different users. Our role is to try and maintain that balance, which I feel we do very well, but it does partly also rely on the goodwill of the users. Please keep the Hurtwood a safe environment for every one.

On Saturday my husband and I went for a 10 K walk over Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hilll. We started in Holmbury St Mary, walked up over Holbury Hill then down the escarpment and around to the south of Ewhurst place. Thus we approached Pitch Hill from the South. The OS map shows a footpath this way. At the bottom of the hill it became obvious that much of the hillside is used for cycle tracks, but we found a steep zig-zag path that looked more like a footpath and followed it up. Just below the top it joined a very steep sided path from the top. It was obvious that this is well used by cyclists, but there was no other viable way for us to proceed.

The path has been worn away such that there is no room to step to either side. My husband reached the top without incident and so I felt safe to proceed up towards the final narrowest section where there would be no possible chance of avoiding a cyclist descending at any speed. Fortunately, I was still just below this final gully when I heard a warning shout from my husband above.

A mountain biker, riding from the direction of the trig point, had ignored my husband standing on the path and indicating another walker below, and ridden around him to speed down the gully. When he saw me the biker shouted but it was too late for him to do anything. I literally threw myself onto the side of the path and hoped that he would miss my legs. Fortunately he did, and no lasting damage was done to either of us. My 63 year old bones have suffered worse!

I have read your website, in particular your notes on the ‘right to roam’ nature of the Hurtwood estate and your advice to cyclists. Unfortunately, both the mountain biker and I felt that we had a right to be on that particular path at the same time.

I hope this is helpful to you and the ranger in maintaining a wonderful area that is open and safe for everyone to enjoy.

I was going to call this the “Highlights of 2016”, but I’m not sure all the fly tip pictures could be considered highlights, just unfortunately frequent! So, just going through some pics on my phone, this is some of what we got up to in 2016……

January seems to have been open season on fly tipping.Equine Photographer

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The tractor is a big help, but a larger trailer will soon be needed.

Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerWorking on the bridleway that runs from the top pond on Holmbury Hill nr No.1 car park. It had become very overgrown through lack of use, partly due to the large gulley that had formed in the track, making it quite dangerous for horses. The we are not responsible for the surfaces, Surrey Rights of Way are, we decided as we had the digger nearby to just crack on with it and get it done.Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine Photographer

After we finished…Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerI’m really not sure what the story was with this abandoned car, but still costs time and money to get removed.Equine Photographer

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A seat with a view

Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerLots of trees came down in a windy spell in March, that had to be cleared.Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerEquine PhotographerTne Friends of the Hurtwood AGM in April.Equine Photographer

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Before

Tree clearance on Winterfold, just to open up the view a little more. Before and after.

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After

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Still more trees across paths.

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Always a fridge somewhere!

I May the early stages of designing the new seats on the Disabled Access track on Holmbury Hill, in the end it was decided that just three benches would work better.Equine PhotographerEquine PhotographerThe new stone was laid and the area for the benches made bigger to accommodate them, and soon Matthew Burt arrived to do the installationEquine Photographer

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Clearing the frees to improve the view for another of the “Inspiring Views” project

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The seat in place

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A new path was laid leading up to the view point on Reynards Hill in readiness for another of the “Inspiring Views project” benches.

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The new seat on Reynards Hill.

 

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Bags of garden waste, dumped in the car park

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We attended Peaslake village fete

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The Hurtleberry 2016

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Just a bit mor rubbish

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Admittedly a neat pile of rubbish

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A not so neat pile of rubbish

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Clearing the heather triangle on Pitch Hill

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Now looking a lot better

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We had to take some action on bike trails that had been built with the inclusion of dangerous jumps.

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We have now had a good cut back around the Hammonds ponds on Holmbury Hill, to let a little more light in.

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Just in car you hadn’t had enough, heres bit more fly tip!

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December 2016 has been very foggy at times especially on Winterfold.

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A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL AND BEST WISHES FOR 2017

Update December 2015

Ok early new years resolution….update the blog more regularly…..watch this space!

So to start off, a quick update on the land sales, I can confirm that the first lot (top of Pitch Hill) has been completed, and has been sold to a local resident. Once all the lots have been sold and completed, probably in the next couple of months, we will update everyone of any changes to access, though we all hope it remains as things are.

Meanwhile we’ve been busy on Holmbury Hill at car park No.1, giving it a bit of a haircut as the view was becoming a bit overgrown. I know a lot of our less mobile visitors, like to park on the top part of the car park and look at the view from their cars or the benches in front. Speaking of benches, we will be replacing the one that has been vandalised as soon as I come across a nice lump of hardwood to replce the seat.

Further over the hill at the junction known as ‘Fiveways’, a not very imaginative name for a junction of five ways, we’ve been clearing the sightlines. It’s a fairly major junction, and I’d noticed that poor visibility was starting to become an issue. My main concern was mountain bikers travelling at speed coming into contact with other users. On the whole, I think its now fair to say that the vast majority of bikers who are familiar with the Hurtwood, know that they can come across other users at any time, and tend to ride accordingly. However there’s still a few that think riding as fast as they can, at all times, is the norm. As a couple of bike trails start and finish near to the junction, it can get quite busy, so to give everyone as much sight as possible, it did need a bit of a cut back. This is nothing new and something we do on lots of other trails, to increase lines of sight as much as we can. Hopefully this picture explains it a little.

Holmbury Hill

Logging on Winterfold is nearly finished and we are hoping to have the carpark open again by the second week of January, that’s assuming it doesn’t need re-surfacing first.

Some of you may have seen or heard the news about Shere Manor Estate having to sell part of The Hurtwood. As you can imagine something like this often raises many questions and rumours, and as I’ve already had to answer quite a few of those questions and heard quite a few of the rumours, I thought it wise to try and give you as much information as I can.

As you many of you already know, The Hurtwood is all privately owned by four landowners, with Shere Manor Estate owning the majority and who now need to raise a substantial amount of money. The areas that are for sale are, all of Pitch Hill, Bentley Copse, the eastern part of Winterfold, Shere Heath and part of Holmbury Hill between the Ewhurst road and Radnor Road, (where the bike trail BKB is), in total around 800 acres.

Currently, you all enjoy access on foot, horse and bike on nearly all of the area, this is because of the original Deed of Dedication of 1926, but now if the land changes ownership, the new landowner is not obliged to honour that original deed. However, the land will then come under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW). This Act allows access on foot to remain exactly as it is now, though any new landowner would not be obliged to maintain any of the non-statutory paths, only the actual Rights of way as seen on a Ordnance survey map, for instance, but technically you could still walk all over the area.

The CROW Act does not provide access for horse riders and bikers, this would purely be down to the discretion of the new land owner. Bikes and Horses would however still be allowed on the statuary network of Bridleways.

Currently it’s business as usual, and we’ll just have to wait and see who the new landowner is and hopefully they will carry on allowing us to maintain the access agreements as they are and no-one will notice the change, (as has happened recently on Winterfold Heath and the western part of Winterfold). I’ll update this blog as and when we know any more.

Article from The Dorking Advertiser

Update

We’ve now completed the scheduled works to repair the worst of the problems in the car parks. This work has been funded by a Forestry Commission grant designed to enable and increase public access to woodlands. We will be doing some further work to Walking Bottom car park as soon as the weather starts to warm up. Previous experience has shown that if we lay the surface and before it has a chance to settle then freezes, it tends to break up very quickly. Whilst we were there with the large Digger, Martin Nicholson did a bit of drainage work too, clearing out some ditches around the edges to aid the water run off.

If you’ve noticed the small Noble Fir saplings that were planted in the middle of the disabled access track on Holmbury Hill, these are in memory of Derek Barnet the woodman for Shere Manor Estate who had worked on the Hurtwood for over thirty years.

After finding a nice bit of Oak that came down in the storms of December 2013, after cutting to approximate size it’s been drying out nicely in the old tractor shed in Holmbury. Now its become the replacement bench beside the pond at Walking Bottom after the old Ash bench unfortunately became unstable after being damaged by the forestry contractors. If I say so myself, I think it looks pretty good, enjoy!

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Noble Fir sapling

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Car park 1

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Walking Bottom Car park

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Pitch Hill car park

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Water run off ditch Pitch Hill

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Car park 4

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Walking Bottom car park, completed

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Walking Bottom Entrance

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Drainage ditches Pitch Hill car park

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Oak Bench, Walking Bottom, Peaslake

 

Car parks

Over the summer. we’ve been having a bit of revamp in the carparks on the Hurtwood. Hopefully if you visit you’ll have noticed the new entrance signs, made for us Norbury Park Sawmill, as well as a few new notice boards to replace damaged old ones. The main new change is our lovely new maps. The previous maps were designed over 20 years ago, and quite out of date. As part of ongoing maintenance we’ve also had work done on the car park surfaces to reduce the number of pot holes. It’s always going to be an ongoing battle when the carpaks have to deal with such a large quantity of water run off from the hills, as well as traffic, and I don’t think covering them in tarmac is ever going to be an option!

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Unfortunately, as ever, fly tip continues to be problem, almost occurring on a weekly basis, this latest lot dumped blocking a bridleway on Farley Heath

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The view from the the Lord Justice James’ seat on Winterfold had become increasingly over grown over the last few years, which in part was deliberate. With the increasing amount of mountain bikes leaping off the edge, it was starting to erode quite badly, signs unfortunately don’t work and in my experience the only option is to create a physical barrier, and this is why the tees were left to grow so big. The plan was to have the view cleared at the beginning of the year, but due to the amount of storm damage we’ve had to clear, it got postponed with the intention of doing t this autumn. However as its been a very good year so far for all regrowth, it had got to a point where the view was totally obliterated, and after receiving more than a few requests to have it cleared, I brought forward the work. So here are few before and after pics, we’ve laid all the cut tress across the paths that had been causing the erosion and hope people will respect this and not remove them and help stop further damage of the view point. IMG_0448 IMG_0452 IMG_0458 IMG_0459