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Hockeridge Wood - access for all
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New gates providing easier access for wheelchair and scooter users to the charms of a historic woodland that spans the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders have been officially opened.

Hockeridgeaccess Charlotteandnickbrown 0507 Creditjohnmorrisrfs

First through the gate! Charlotte Brown and husband Nick. Picture Credit John Morris

The new gates at the Royal Forestry Society’s (RFS) Hockeridge Woods near Ashley Green were installed after local residents and members of the Disabled Ramblers and Chesham Walkers are Welcome and Buckingham Local Access Forum got together.

They had been concerned that existing pedestrian gates were difficult to use for those in wheelchairs and scooters. They successfully applied for a grant from Chiltern District Council and the new gates were purchased under a scheme called 'Donate a Gate' run as a partnership between The Chiltern Society and Bucks County Council and installed by Chiltern Society volunteers with the agreement of the Royal Forestry Society.

The new gates, which are in addition to existing pedestrian gates, can be used by anyone with a RADAR key – the National Key Scheme supported by around 400 local authorities.

Andrew Clark, from Chesham Walkers are Welcome said: "I'm really delighted that this project has been completed as it will provide a true woodland adventure. Hockeridge Wood is a lovely place that should be appreciated by all."

Charlotte Brown, who lives within scooter distance in Berkhamsted says: “My experience of the new gates into Hockeridge woods has brought enormous pleasure into my restricted life albeit a muddy one at the moment!  The freedom of escaping the traffic to participate in the in the vitality of the abundant woodland with its birdsong and wildlife is a real treat.”

RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd says: “Woodland is increasingly recognised not just for the timber it can produce and the biodiversity it supports but for the health and wellness benefits it provides to all who spend time in them. Hockeridge and Pancake woods have always been well used by local people and we are delighted they are now more accessible to even more people.”

Mark Shaw, Buckinghamshire County Council Deputy Leader and Local Member for Ashley Green, said: "A great deal of laudable local voluntary work goes into managing Hockeridge Wood and preserving it as a lovely place to walk and enjoy. I'm delighted the Donate a Gate scheme has extended this enjoyment to those who rely on wheelchairs and mobility scooters."

Hockeridge and Pancake Woods are on the edge of the Chilterns AONB and hold several clues to a historic past including a centuries-old bank-and-ditch surrounding the woods and a double-bank mound near Hockeridge Bottom which marks the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire county borders.

The woodland was gifted to the RFS in 1986 by Mary Wellesley, great great-granddaughter to the Duke of Wellington. It includes 50 different tree species – including a Giant Redwood Avenue (Wellingtonia trees) planted by Mary Wellesley in memory of her great, great grandfather.

It is managed by the RFS to demonstrate sustainable woodland management. Access is available via public footbaths. More information on Hockeridge and Pancake Woods is available here.

Hockeridgeaccess Group 0507 Creditjohnmorris

Access for all at Hockeridge Woods, from left, local resident Charlotte Brown, RFS Chief Executive Simon Lloyd, Buckingham Local Access Forum members Gavin Caspersz and  Andrew Clark. Picture Credit John Morris