Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Holmbury Iron Age hill fort – a timely reminder of responsibilities

Posted by Matt | May 12, 2009 | 3 comments so far

Iron Age Hill Fort, Holmbury Hill (aka Yoghurt Pots)
The Surrey Hills is an incredibly popular location for mountain biking, attracting people from all across London and the South East. With good reason too, there are miles and miles of top quality trails across Leith, Pitch and Holmbury Hills.

Many of these developed as animal tracks which have gradually come to serve the purposes of mountain bikers in recent years but many have also been lovingly hand built by local riders from Nirvana Cycles in Westcott and the Redlands Trails organisation.

Most of us haven’t given this a moments thought, coming to see the Surrey Hills as our playground and the star trails such as Barry Knows Best, Yoghurt Pots/Park Life, Telegraph Road and many other oddly named trails as permanent features of the landscape. But they’re not.

Firstly, many non-bikers use the hills for their own reasons, including families, walkers and horse riders. With such popularity comes responsibilities on the part of the organisations that run the place, such as Hurtwood Control and the Forestry Commission – responsibilities to the land users but also to the landscape itself.

These organisations are legally required to protect users (from themselves and others) and to protect key features that make the area unique in South East England. One of these is the Iron Age Hill Fort on Holmbury. The what? you may well ask. That’s right, an Iron Age Hill Fort, part of the summit area of the hill. Obviously its in a fragile state after all these years but you can still see the main parts of it if you look closely.

The problem is, it has until a year or so ago been used as part of Park Life, that lovely (oh so lovely), massive sweeping roller-coaster run-in to Yoghurt Pots. Great fun but the problem is English Heritage have made it very clear to Hurtwood Control that it needs to be protected from damage – and damage we mountain bikers were most certainly causing.

Which is a round about way of explaining why a new route has been created to take riders off the roller-coaster, along with attempts to block the entrance to that part of the trail entirely. The new route is a pretty good effort and is now the only sanctioned route down Yoghurt Pots.

As you can see from Ben’s recent post on the Redlands site, it looks as though riders are still cutting through via the old route. This is a big problem since if riders can’t be prevented from riding it and causing damage English Heritage will take steps not only to stop it themselves but also prevent riding in the immediate area, full stop.

As a regular rider on Holmbury, this is a simple heads up to support both Redlands and Hurtwood Control‘s polite requests for riders to ‘play the game’ and stop abusing the privileges they have riding the Surrey Hills. At the same time, it’s a grateful acknowledgement of the work they put in on a continuing basis to keep our Surrey trails at the top of the pack.

Thanks for reading!

Filed under 2009, News in May 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 3 comments on ‘Holmbury Iron Age hill fort – a timely reminder of responsibilities’

We love to get comments from our readers - if you've spent a few moments to comment, thank-you.

  1. Mike61 says:


    Well put.

    Why don’t folks just read the signs and use the new trail – they will b****r it up for everyone.


  2. Philip and Linda says:

    My wife and I walked Pitch Hill last Saturday and on a trail marked ‘Public Footpath” were confronted with five bikies descending toward us. I am all for cycling but it is a shame that a few mess it up for the rest. We stopped and waited for them to pass in the narrow very muddy channel. They were polite and said Thankyou. May be the bikies could all get together and fit new signs and squeeze rails across footpaths. Talk to Hurtwood Control and have a whip round for them to fit the signs up other wise you will spoil it for yourselves.

  3. Dave says:

    Hi Philip and Linda,

    Your experience is, I’m sure, shared by many other walkers and obviously not representative of all bikers.

    The problem with your suggestion, as I see it, is that it’s all well and good dealing with the start and finish of a footpath but often we drop onto a trail in the middle and in an area like Pitch Hill it is easy to get disorientated. Having said all that though there are plenty of bike trails in that area for it not to be a problem really.

    Anyway, I’m glad you at least experienced bikers with manners and thanks for looking at our site.

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