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Archive for March 13th, 2017

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.

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