Let’s concrete over the downs! Concern about congested parking around the Rubbing House (which is exceptionally popular at weekends) led to a remarkable proposal: why not concrete over the downs below the access road to the Rubbing House? OK, so the idea was to put down a limited area of grasscrete for overflow parking, but it was salutary to see how the conservators (statutory duty: “to preserve the Downs so far as possible in their natural state of beauty”) lined up to support this proposal. Only some reservations on the part of the clerk kept them from rubberstamping it right away! And ‘overflow’ could mean every lunchtime and evening, 365 days a year! By the way, the land nominated for this ‘upgrade’ is a statutory hack area. And no-one even mentioned the words ‘planning permission’.
Mac track at bottom of Six Mile Hill: The trainers complained that some hack riders are regularly but covertly using the high quality gallop at the foot of Six Mile Hill, in preference to the sand track. We supported their plans to put barriers across the mac track out of training hours as a practical solution, but pointed out that continuing problems with maintaining the sand track might be a contributory factor.
Diversion of bridleway 65: This long-running saga is now likely to go ahead, meaning that the public bridleway which trails across the south-eastern corner of Six Mile Hill (towards the middle-left of the photo) will be diverted to the hardcore track around the south-eastern perimeter fence (which is where most people think it is now). Horse riders will still be able to use the old route, because it’s a statutory hack ride, and cannot be diverted.
Chalk Lane: Chalk Lane has been used as a rat-run for years, particularly since the gate at Durdans was removed (or stolen). It’s supposed to be closed to all motor traffic, except for ‘access’. The county council doesn’t really know what to do about it, and promises a feasibility study â€” but no new gate, apparently because it might be dangerous (now, we wouldn’t want motorists put at risk, would we?). A couple of steel bollards might do the trick, though… .
Dogs: The trainers raised the danger to their horses (and their riders) from dogs. Sometimes, owners are seen to encourage their dogs onto the training areas, putting at risk riders, horses â€” and dogs. Hack riders face the same problems all day long, and we agree with the trainers that the conservators need to address communication, and think about more direct signage and the availability of a code of rights and responsibilities in leaflets.