Paths in the Woods North of Danemead

At Danemead, we pride ourselves on being a perhaps old fashioned, backwoods site where young people from the Scouting Organisation and other youth groups can enjoy outside activities.

At Danemead, not only can you enjoy backwoods camping but there is access to a fantastic woodland area surrounding our site where young people can learn traditional map reading skills as they hike in the area.

However, if you carefully examine the 1:25000 scale map of the area, a number of the tracks are not marked as rights of way but just as tracks. For many years, to my knowledge, people have stayed at Danemead and used the surrounding tracks and paths without any problems. However, in the last two weeks, this has changed! In actual fact, some of the woodlands are privately owned and the owners have started being very heavy handed in warning people off from using the tracks …… tracks that have been used by people for a very long time.

The local British Horse Society is trying to do something about this! They are organising a meeting on Friday 12th June 2015 at 7.30pm at Brickendon Parish Hall to discuss the issue and get evidence of how people have been using the tracks. The flyer giving full details is here.

What they want to do is to get evidence of when people have used these tracks so they can make a case to have the tracks designated as rights of way.

The tracks have been split into four different sections, so if you have walked any of them, please fill them in and send them to Alison at the British Horse Society (her email is on the flyer).

The four sections are:

  1. Through Broxbourne Woods.
  2. Through Highfield Woods.
  3. Through Bramble’s Woods and Cowheath Woods.
  4. Through Cowheath Woods and Broxbourne Woods to Pembridge Lane.

If you love walking and feel it is important that our young people can access the outside to learn traditional Scouting skills, please fill in these forms if you have used any of them at any time. Thank you.

The completed froms should be sent to the following address:

Alison Balfour-Lynn
British Horse Society Regional Access & Bridleways Officer, Eastern Region
Dog Kennel Farm
Lilley Bottom
Lilley N. Herts

10 thoughts on “Paths in the Woods North of Danemead

  1. Thank you for this, I was in the woods near Danemead on Tuesday evening (2nd June), and saw a lot of destruction of saplings and trees, with branches placed across paths, that has obviously been done by the lease holders to try to prevent passage on the pathways. Its sickening that they would destroy trees in this way.
    Also, I do not believe the company leasing the land (Bushcraft), or the land owners (Marquess of Salisbury estates) have applied to the council (this comes under Brickendon parish) for any change of use of the land – ie to run a business from it.
    Please do complain to East Herts council about this too and ensure the planning enforcement team takes it seriously. I spoke to Shirley Downham who was arranging a visit by the enforcement team.

    1. You raise an interesting point about whether they have applied for a change of land use!
      Also, regarding cutting down trees …… I wonder if they applied for a felling licence?

      Of course, it may be that they operate under different rules.? At Danemead, we are an SSSI site and we have a management plan developed with Natural England to maintain our woodland as an old woodland. This involves coppicing trees on a cycle and we have to apply for a felling licence. I wonder if they do too?

  2. Hi . There are a number of mountain bike users of these woods that are very concerned about this access restriction(myself included). I have been riding in those woods for over 20 years and a number of friends have too.
    I cannot quite understand what the landowner and his lessee are aiming to achieve. Could it be the land owner is seeking to sell his land at a high price to some of the owners of the rest of the woods who value the public recreational benefit?
    It also seems they are restricting sometimes physically public rights of way.
    please see a recent post on a national mountain biking forum.

    1. Hi Tim,
      Thank you for the link. From the comments there, things do seem to be getting worse!
      I would think that if they are actually barring rights of way, the Rights of Way Officer (Yes …… there is one …… I think I would like that job :) ) at Herts Council would be the person to contact.
      I have no idea whether they are thinking of selling the land. I’m inclined to think that they’re not! However, if the company leasing it is Bushcraft who run wild camping activities for children, I guess they would say they are doing it for child protection reasons.
      In some way, we at Danemead have ‘potentially’ the same problem in that people could wander onto our site where leaders have the responsibility for young people’s welfare (even though there are no paths marked through our site) but it doesn’t need such heavy handed methods!
      I’m still insensed that men in 4 wheeled buggies diverted off groups of 12 year old Scouts who were doing a big hike in the area; the young people could have got very lost.
      Added to which, so many people have used those paths over so many years (many of whom are the people that have stayed at Danemead over many years) that it seems totally wrong.

    1. Hi Karen,
      Thank you for that idea. I’m sure that Alison from the British Horse Society has thought of it, but just in case, I’ve just emailed to suggest it to her.

  3. What is the current position on this. We would like to knwo if our scouts will be accosted.

    We have often used this area for night hikes and the like and are camping next week.

    Locals have been walking these woods and cycling the main tracks for over 50 years.
    In the last few years there have been problems with trail bikes and 4x4s, particularly destroying the habitat around Ermine Street but these seem to be being addressed.

    1. Hi,
      Your Scouts should be fine if they keep to the main Public Rights of Way as shown on the Ordnance Survey maps. The issue has been with the tracks that are in the woods immediately north of Danemead that are not Public Right of Way.

      Mind you, so you are aware, the area known as Hoddesdonpark Woods is owned by the Woodland Trust and there are several ‘tracks’ going through there and you’re allowed to go wherever you like!

      If you have any concerns at all, please phone me (the Booking Secretary) on 01992 630702 and I will be happy to advise.
      Best wishes

      1. Hi All,

        Hope you are all well and enjoying the autumn.

        The bushcraft company are working with a number of the surrounding neighbours, both Celtic Harmony camps, and we have offered the Scouts use of the woodlands. So long as the scout groups wear their woggles or something to distinguish themselves as scouts. This is only guaranteed during the lease time between April – October. Otherwise be careful of the tree contractors.

        Whilst the lease holders are in control of exclusive rights to the woodland- we are in the same position as many of those around us and want to give children an experience that they do not normally receive.
        Aiming to inspire and encourage the young of today to get out and enjoy nature.

        Along with this there are various projects that in the past had been overlooked by loggers, the preservation of the glow worm community is one that has been engaged.

        The right permits are in place, and have been awarded to the lease holders.
        Rights of way have never been blocked and a kind manner has been upheld to all those that are technically trespassing.
        There may have been some confusion in the first few weeks, however these have been dealt with and everyone on the ground is understanding of the situation.
        There is great sympathy towards the locals who’s free roaming has being dampened-
        The sole problem of the matter comes down to the schools individual councils- they cannot permit the school to come away if it is not private land and the public do not have access to it. If these regulations are not upheld then many of the schools would not be able to come.

        Some 3000 children this year got to experience something that they otherwise would not have, all thanks to this amazing woodland. The inspiration and wonder in the child’s eyes, and the long lasting memories that are built in such a poignant time in their lives have often been made in this woodland, quite often igniting that change in the children’s path in life.
        The children are taught to take nothing but memories in the woodlands, and to leave no trace of human presence on the land.

        There will be an open day at the start of next season where we hope everyone can come and enjoy the woodland together.

  4. North London Sea Cadets have been using this area for many years using Danemead Scout camp as a base. We have run D of e Expeditions and for the national Beal and Bel courses for senior cadets and adults for Night Navigation on some of these paths.
    All adults carry an ID Card, would it, therefor, be possible for the Sea Cadets to obtain the same permission granted to the Scouts to continue using these paths and tracks?
    Lt (SCC) Alan Lewis RNR
    Member of the London Area Expedition Training Team
    D of E Gold Exped Assessor

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