The new crew (from left): Nick Berry, Ilse Lambert, Steve Pickford, Manuela Beis, Chris Hurworth, Bill McIntyre & Chris Blomfield The new crew (from left): Nick Berry, Ilse Lambert, Steve Pickford, Manuela Beis, Chris Hurworth, Bill McIntyre & Chris Blomfield

All officers were unanimously elected. Please support your group officers who are giving their time as volunteers. We look forward to another good year of trail riding and continued growth of our group. Thank you to all those who have organised and helped with rides in 2015.

Oxford TRF AGM - Our New Group Officers!

We currently have 144 members. 31 of them attended the AGM last month with no additional email or proxy votes received. Two email proposal and seconds as additional ROW officers for Ilse Lambert and Nick Berry were emailed; proposed by Manuela Beis and seconded by Steve Pickford.

Positions of group reps and Equestrian are currently not active as they are not required currently and the previous officers had already indicated they were stepping down.
A big THANK YOU to the Group reps Adrian Allen, Martin Smith & Patrick Robinson and our Equestrian Ian Clarke for all their time and efforts spent during the last years! 

Our new Officers are:

  • Bill McIntyre - Chairman
  • Chris Blomfield - Vice Chairman
  • Steve Pickford - Treasurer
  • Bill McIntyre - Membership Secretary
  • Chris Hurworth - ROW Officer
  • Chris Blomfield - Rights of Way Officer
  • Ilse Lambert - ROW Officer
  • Nick Berry - ROW Officer
  • Manuela Beis - Newsletter Editor

Bill McIntyre & Manuela Beis



Oxford TRF Christmas Do - 17 December 2015

Our December meeting is our traditional Christmas Do - we have booked the large room at the Gladiators and food is organised: a curry with all the trimmings.

As last year, the cost will be £10 per person, £5 goes to the Gladiator’s and £5 to the club funds.

There will be a pub- style quiz with prizes; this year the quiz-master will be Bill McIntyre, so Steve and Ela can join in the competition. Get your teams of 4 and names sorted!

Upon payment each person will be given a raffle ticket and we will be having a prize draw from more or less useful items donated by our members. Any item not chosen by a winner will have to be taken home but we will make as many draws as we have prizes.

By now you should have told Bill if you are coming, but if anything changes please let him know.

The Definitive Map and what has affected it

The Definitive Map, what is it, and how did it mesomorph?

Firstly the name is pronounced 'deefinitive' not 'deffinittive' as a barrister repeatedly referred to it at a public inquiry that I attended. Secondly, it is legal document recording the status of all Rights of Way (ROW).

My first dealing with the Definitive map takes me back to 1992 when I first became involved in ROW. I'd heard many people referring to this thing so I decided to go to the ROW department at County Hall to find out what it was about. Naively I thought that it was something like a big OS map and I presented myself at the ROW office (no signing in, just wander through the floors until you found the department that you wanted), where I saw a ROW officer and asked to see the Definitive Map. I was asked which section did I want to see? Quickly thinking on my feet so as to not show my lack of knowledge I asked to see my local parishes. The maps which are drawn on a scale 6'' to the mile, (1 in 10,560), were accompanied by a statement which described the various routes stating, widths, where gates and styles are situated. It was an eye opener for me to say the least.

How did the comprehensive map of all ROW come about? Well, just after WW2 in 1945 the government at the time decided that the servicemen would return to a land fit for heroes' and have time for leisure time in the countryside. A committee (one of those things that takes minutes but spends hours procrastinating), was formed and from that the "1949 National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act was passed. (NAPACA1949). These things cannot be hurried, after all there are tea breaks to fit in with the work. The act decreed that every county council should record all ROW and their respective status. They had to record Footpaths, Bridle Paths, and Roads Used As Public Paths, (RUPPs).

In lieu of images appropriately depicting the definitive map and because it’s Christmas soon, Chris submitted some more cheerful photos he took in Tring High Street.

In lieu of images appropriately depicting the definitive map and because it’s Christmas soon, Chris submitted some more cheerful photos he took in Tring High Street.

Now let me remind you that it was just after WW2 and qualified surveyors were probably in short supply, and the survey was also sent to parish councils to help out. They had to complete slips of paper recording the ROW as a FP, BW, or RUPP and return them to sleepy hollow, I mean County Hall. As you can imagine the chairman or clerk to local parish council might well be a landowner/local squire or employed by them and having a ROW over your land could be a bloody inconvenience and even devalue it. Also due to WW2 some grassy roads escaped the tarmac process, were overgrown and fell into disuse. Hence inaccuracies crept in, such as the lower status being recorded or in some cases missed off altogether. In Buckinghamshire the county surveyor at the time sent out a memo stating that he was not in favour of recording RUPPs and to record Footpaths or Bridleways instead, which incidentally I have used in Public Inquiries (case law Brand vs Lunde). Therefore you can see how vehicular ROW were lost and misrecorded.

The Definitive Map is continually being updated and the County Councils have a duty to keep the map up to date even today.

In 1968 another act was passed by Parliament, the 1968 Countryside Act (CA1968), where all RUPPs had to be re-classified as Byways Open To all traffic (BOATS) or as Bridleways (BWs). Now there was a suitability test where it was deemed as to whether or not a RUPP was suitable for motor vehicles. It was alleged at the time that some councils used a mini as a chosen vehicle to see if the ROW would become a BOAT or not. So you can see that we lost more of our network! Also in this act a change was made to allow bicycles on Bridleways, this in ROW terms is important because it meant that researchers could use old maps prior to 1968 that showed cycle routes being vehicular (bicycles classed as a vehicle).

Next came 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (WCA1981), which in simple terms is an update on previous acts, and finally in 2005 the Natural Environment and Rural Affairs Act (NERC), where the TRF was stuffed by lying politicians (what's new?), by saying that we had nothing to worry about. However, the legislation ruled that RUPPs would become Restricted Byways (RBs), restricted to non mechanical vehicles, hence another great chunk of our network was taken away from vehicles having a right to use it. This is just a fairly brief and simplified look at what has happened to the ROW network and there are many technicalities that could be expanded upon. However, the work of a ROW officer is never done and they have to be ever vigilant that sneaky changes that could affect us in our riding routes are not implemented by councils.

Chris Hurworth Oxford TRF Rights of Way Officer




A note from Godfrey

After my recent incident on the 15th November, resulting in a two and a half week stay in the JR hospital, I would just like to say THANK YOU to everyone in the Oxford TRF.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of messages, cards and visitors. It was all very much appreciated.

Back home now popping pills and sticking needles into myself hoping for a full recovery...

Photos: Justin Heavens & Manuela Beis

Photos: Justin Heavens & Manuela Beis

Godfrey Bennett



Imber Village

Christmas is coming and that means the roads to Imber will soon be open again. If you fancy having a look at this abandoned village (or just want to check out the trails in and out), this is your chance. For a few days a year, the MoD allows ordinary mortals to have a look at their urban combat playground.

Admittedly, the deserted village itself is a sorry sight, but the Church of Saint Giles is well worth a visit. The climb up to this 13th century church has some no-table 15th century murals, yes, but much more importantly, it offers tea and cakes to weary travellers. The perfect stop on a hard day out on the trails.

Imber Village: About 2.5 miles West of the A360 between Tilshead and West Lavington Coordinates: 51.2340° N, 2.0510° W - ST965485

Opening times Imber roads and village: from 18:00 hrs on Friday 11th December 2015 till 08:00 hrs on Monday 4th January 2016

Imber Church

Imber Church

Opening times Church of Saint Giles: from 11.00 till 16:00 hrs on the following days:  Saturday 12th December  Sunday 13th December  Sunday 20th December  Sunday 27th December 2015 through to Sunday 3rd January 2016 inclusive.

Please note that the published access dates and times can be revised or withdrawn by the MoD at short notice for operational reasons.

Kids Bike Wanted

An OSET or kids trials bike suitable for an 8-year old. Maybe a PW80. Must be reliable and of good provenance. Please contact Mike Fredriksen via the Yahoo group email.



I’m a Nerd and I’m proud!

If you are already importing and exporting .gpx files between your computer and a GPS device or you are already confidently using your computer for accessing forums, browsing off-road /adventure biking websites for news and information, or using social media such as… dare I say it... Facebook! then you do not need to continue reading this article.

If you lament the passing of the quill pen or simply hate computers and stubbornly have no desire to use them then, you are beyond help, so you too can skip to the next article.

If you are still reading, then I’m going to try to convince you that computers and the internet can “improve" the life of a trail rider and specifically a TRF member.

I retired a couple of years ago after nearly 50 years of working in the computer industry. A year later I had started a one-man business: MW Home Computing “Providing Computer Support to Homes in Amersham, Chesham and surrounding areas”. Why did I start working again? Well it’s not like work really, I actually enjoy playing with computers and I’m continually fascinated by brilliant new software and gadgets. So, yes, I’m a techie, a nerd, a gadget freak, a techno junky. But I can earn a few pennies whilst I do something I enjoy like speeding up a customer’s old computer which has been attacked by something unpleasant or showing them how to Skype their friends and family in Australia.

Justin's new Ipad

Justin's new Ipad

Many of my customers are quite elderly and some are simply technophobic but they all have one thing in common - they all realise that if they can get over the learning curve and become reasonably competent in using a computer then their lives could become easier.

So, what’s my point? Why am I writing this article? We all agree the internet has shrunk the world and many of us are becoming increasingly more dependent on computers and the internet. This increasing dependency already applies to TRF members. How many GPS devices were fitted on bikes two years ago? (My answer: not many). How many do you see now? (My answer: many). I suspect in two more years not only will the majority of riders be using them but most will be uploading approved/legal routes from TRF websites and then editing and maintaining a “portfolio” of their favourite routes on their home computer.

How about knowing who is riding and where? The Oxford TRF’s Yahoo email group is already working well and keeping us informed of rides but, again, in two years’ time I suspect we will be using something different, I don’t know what, but it will be better. (That’s what happens with technology - it is always changing, generally improving and generally getting cheaper). The obvious choice at the moment for people to share information is Facebook... There, I said it again! Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it, I’m a Facebook user! What’s more, I think it is very good for keeping in touch with common interest groups. Some TRF groups are currently using Facebook at its simplest level and others are taking a more advanced/structured approach using sub-groups such as “events” (also available with Yahoo) to inform members of everything going on and “closed/restricted” groups such as “Rights Of Way” where ROW officers can discuss issues and junior officers can get advice from more experienced officers.

If you do not already have a Facebook account I do not suggest you simply create one without thinking about it first. You may want to create an account under a fictitious name otherwise people who know you only remotely will want to be a “friend” and then inundate you with a load of dross such as photos of their cat etc. Be selective in the groups you join such as trail, enduro, adventure riding and other biking groups. You will still get a load of dross but over time you can develop “dross filtering” skills.

So, what if you think “I don’t understand computers, I’m no good at using them”. Well, there are many people who feel the same and there’s no shame in it. One of my customers is an eminent professor and I have seen emails sit-ting in his inbox (not read them) from members of HM Government. It is hard to imagine a more educated person, but when it comes to computers the guy is an idiot! Some people simply need more help and encouragement than others and that’s perfectly OK.

I see that Lodden Vale are having their AGM this week and on the agenda is a motion to elect a group website / IT officer plus a motion to buy a group laptop! I’m not putting myself forward as the Oxford Group’s techie expert as there are many guys in the group who are more skilled than me at using the various applications that are available. For example, I am very comfortable using Garmin’s Basecamp software to create my routes but I believe there may be better software available so I would like to discuss what other applications people are us-ing. Perhaps we should have a regular agenda item for the monthly meetings to discuss nerdy stuff? Or maybe something less formal like chats in the bar after the meetings; it may bring back memories of my old after-school computer club! I’m happy to discuss ideas of how Oxford TRF want to approach the 21st century.

Martin Welch