Heartwood Horse Hop Construction

Permissive access improvement – horse hop construction

The construction of horse hops is an important aspect of land management for permissive path access. It is essential that public access to woodland and parkland is maintained and improved. To ensure public safety and security, it is important for landowners to invest in the installation of new gates and horse hops.

How gates and horse hops can improve public access

Gates provide a secure barrier between the public and the land, while horse hops can help to keep the public safe from any potential risks whilst prohibiting motor vehicle access. They can be used to section off areas of the land and can also be used to indicate where the public is not allowed to go.

In addition to providing security, gates and horse hops can also be used to improve public access where it has previously been restricted. By clearly marking out areas of the land that the public can access, visitors will be able to find their way around the land more easily. This will make the experience of visiting the land more pleasant and will also encourage more people to visit the area.

Horse Hop for the Woodland Trust in St Albans, Hertfordshire

Heartwood Forest, on the outskirts of Sandridge, near St Albans Hertfordshire, is an expansive new forest consisting of over half a million trees. There are pockets of ancient woodland along with wildflower meadows which offers the perfect environment for some incredible wildlife spotting. 

The objective for Sherriff was to upgrade the existing permissive access of a horse hop and gate structure at one of the entrances to Heartwood Forest. 

The horse hop’s current base had significantly eroded as a result of heavy rain, posing a risk to visitors. After an assessment, it was determined that both the structure's physical state and the pedestrian gate had been impacted by time and weather, so it was decided to replace the entire structure to create a suitable access for both horses and pedestrians. 

The horse hop and access gate were installed in accordance with Woodland Trust specifications, and wherever possible, green oak hardwood was utilised to increase the structure's lifespan and reduce the likelihood of timber degradation. 

To prevent recurrence of the same problems, the new horse hop was placed to the side and away from the natural channel that surface water takes, and the previous horse hop was fenced off to prevent further use.

The previous horse hop was installed in conjunction with the creation of the forest and permissive pathways. Overtime the pathway leading to it had become the natural way for surface water to flow which sped up the erosion. 

Once the main structure was installed, a new 0-6mm granite fine surface was installed to provide stability to the ground and increase the lifespan of the surface.


In conclusion, installing new gates and horse hops is an effective way of improving public permissive access. Not only will this help to keep the public safe, but it can also help to improve the aesthetics of the land and can provide visitors with a more pleasant experience. 

Therefore, it is important for landowners to invest in the installation of these structures, to ensure that public access is maintained and enhanced.

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