Maple Lodge Reserve (Maple Lodge Conservation Society)
Reserve Name Maple Lodge Reserve
Managing Authority Maple Lodge Conservation Society
Maple Lodge Conservation Society
c/o 56 Long Lane
Herts WD3 8YF
Maple Lodge reserve is at Maple Cross which is a small place on the A412 between Denham and Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. The nearest access to the motorway system is junction 17 of the M25. If you take the exit off the motorway at junction 17 and take the road down to the A412 you come to a roundabout. (Rickmansworth is to your left) Turn right and almost immediately you are in Maple Cross.
After about 400 yards you come to some traffic lights. There is a pub called The Cross on the right but turn left at these traffic lights into Maple Lodge Close. Drive straight down and after 200 yards you come to a cricket ground on your left. This belongs to the Chiltern Sports & Social Club whose clubhouse and car park is on your right. Visitors to the reserve may use this car park and there is no charge.
Parking & Toilet Provision
The car park is not divided into bays but there is normally plenty of space. The surface is tarmac and it slopes very slightly down to the centre across which runs a gully to take away rainwater. This car park is by far the best place to use as a meeting place if you are coming in more that one vehicle.
Description of Habitat & Facilities
Maple Lodge Reserve is run by the Maple Lodge Conservation Society. The land belongs to Thames Water and much fuller particulars, including lists of birds etc, are available on the Society’s website. The reserve is accessible by members of the Society 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Visitors are very welcome but can only be admitted if they are the guests of, and accompanied by, a member of the Society.
There is no warden and no staff are ever present but, for guests, there is the equivalent – the host member of the Society, without whom there is no access. Effectively, therefore, any visitor who has any physical disability will find someone who knows what is where etc. The probability is that that person will be able-bodied and able to help with catches, door fastenings etc.
Because the reserve is just not for birds, there are some pretty rugged areas where access is prohibited; such areas may be devoted to butterflies and moths and the like – this assessment of the facilities of the reserve is solely for they might affect the disabled birder.
Your host, having opened the lock, will usher you into the clubhouse through a door 2′ 6″ wide. There is no sill at any of the doors in the clubhouse in which the floor is flat and smooth concrete. There is a hide behind one of the doors (also 2′ 6″ wide), which opens outwards. [These doors are not to disability standards and probably will not be accessible by occupied wheelchairs].
The clubhouse has a good view over one of the lakes and also of a feeding station at which food is provided in winter where many tits, finches etc. gorge themselves within about 8 feet of the observer.
The person named below (who surveyed the reserve for the DBA) is only too happy to do what he can to act as a guide and as he is now retired he is no longer restricted to weekend only visits to the reserve. Therefore please, if you think you’d like to make a visit to Maple Lodge, give him a call or an e-mail in lots of time so that he can work out exactly when will suit you both.
Description of Trails
After a walk of about 50 yards from the carpark, there are some large double gates across the road (as this is the entrance to Thames Water sewage works area and the reserve belong to them). (these details are important to potential users). To the side there is a pedestrian gate (width 2ft 9ins) which involves a very short deviation from tarmac to flat grass. This gate is locked and only those who know the combination to the lock can get through.
From these gates the reserve entrance is another 50 yards of roadway. You come to a gate in the chain link fence. This gate (width 3ft 10ins) is the start of a 4-yard concrete path to the front door of the reserve clubhouse. Access is also by knowing the combination for the lock on the door.
Very often the double gates referred to earlier are open in which case you can drive straight to the front door of the reserve clubhouse and park there or, unload your passengers and run your vehicle back to the car park.
There are no circular walks on the reserve; you have to re-trace your route, back to the Benchmark, and turn 90 degrees to the right and follow the track. The tracks from this point on have not been improved. Do not get diverted by side turnings into thickets and the like. The surface is a mixture of compressed hard core and grass which is overtaking the hard core. In very dry weather a wheelchair can make it all the way to the end of the track to Shell Hide (description below) but, off the hard track areas the reserve can get muddy. From the benchmark to the end of this walk is about half a mile. Leading off from this path are a number of turnings on the right hand side, all of which lead to hides.
Proceed down the main path and come to a T-junction. You can turn left or right here. We will come back and talk about the left hand fork a bit later so turn 90 degrees right and go straight on along with a high hedge on the right with open ground and farmland to the left. The path is virtually dead straight and you have a good clear view of an area good for Fox, Rabbit, Muntjak, Sika, Fallow and Roe Deer.
Back to the main path and onwards to the end of the walk to the last hide (Shell hide) on the reserve.
Return to the main path and make your way back to the T-Junction. If you take this fork you have a rather lengthy, convoluted walk including some quite severe obstacles to read a newish hide called Lynsters hide.
I do not recommend this area for wheel chair users. It is really one of the parts of the reserve which has been left as wild as possible for native vegetation and insects to live without human intervention and the provision of this hide was very much of an afterthought.
Now, instead, start back to the benchmark bench, where a turn of 90 degrees to the right takes you back to the clubhouse where you can only gain entry, even from the inside of the reserve, if you know the combination to the lock. You will see that the trick will be to know someone who is a member and who can take you round and be on hand to help.
The reserve is generally flat; there being no more than 6 feet in height difference between the highest and lowest points. Therefore all the various paths can be assumed to be on the level or at worst the gentlest of slopes and normally at least 3 feet wide.
Egress from the clubhouse is through another 2ft 6inch wide door. The path is made of compacted hard core and is a very flat, all-weather surface and minimum 5ins wide. After about 100 yards you come to a bench. Remember the bench – it is a benchmark! Straight on via the 5-inch wide path. From the bench to the end is about 200 yards.
Number of Hides
Description of Hides [By name or number]
The clubhouse hide has more than one viewing position, it has a shelf, has chairs or benches that are not fixed and are easy to shift out of the way and the catches that hold the shutters down are easily reached and operated from a sitting position. This hide is not typical – most are much less comfortable and convenient but they basically all have those facilities once you are inside them.
Not all the permutations for Wheelchair users have been measured but each hide affords comfortable reach for the catches, flaps etc. Each of the other hides is described in terms of access routes and entry problems. You can assume adequate viewing facilities unless stated to the contrary. The lavatory in the clubhouse is fully fitted for wheelchair users and has the wheelchair symbol on the door.
There are 3 hides along this stretch; all three are quite new and have doors 2ft 6ins wide. The first hide (Mike Foulkes Hide) appears to have the purpose access area but the door is not as wide as it appears (because of internal obstructions) and has a rather high sill. It is worth not trying this hide as its very reason is its second floor to which the access is by extremely steep stairs and even the most able-bodied need to hang on for dear life! More important, the second hide (called the Sanctuary Hide) has one step of about 8ins up and a small sill and virtually the same view as the first hides lower level. The step and sill will be dealt with by the provision of ramps. After that there is a further stretch of wide path to where the third hide is. It (Rotunda Hide) has a gentle ramp with railings to it and the only obstacle is a minuscule sill of less than half an inch. It is perfectly easily accessible.
Teal Hide – which is actually two small hides – among the least accessible for people with disabilities and may be impossible for wheelchair users. The distance from the main path to the hides is about 30 yards along a boardwalk/bridge which has no hand rails and no side uprights along the edges of the walk\’s surface. The planks are laid lengthways and have wire netting on their surface. Gaps between planks vary but not more than half an inch. This section is slightly uphill but then the gradient rises to about 20Ã‚Â° for about 6 feet and then flattens out but the surface here is earth and can get very sticky. The first hide has a door which is 1ft 10ins wide and two small steps (5ins in total) and the second hide a door of only 1ft 7ins width and two awkward steps of 11 inches (3ins and 8ins respectively).
Further along the main path is the turning to Kingfisher Hide, which, again, is two small structures, and, like Teal Hide, they are not easy to access and certainly not Wheelchair friendly. The path to them has a better surface than the main path but after a few yards inclines upwards at maximum 15 degree for about 9 feet and then there is a flat area but earthen surface in front of the two hides. To the left is a small structure with a wooden pallet area in front of the door, which is only 1ft 8ins wide and then a sill of 5ins. Straight-ahead, after the first Kingfisher hide, the access is hindered by two large tree roots that have broken the surface of the earth. Assuming that you get over them then the pallet and sill arrangement is of a similar nature and height but the door is 2ft 3ins wide.
Long Hedge hide, which is a very different affair from the others! From the path to the door of the hide is about 10 yards and you go onto a wooden bridge which is 4 feet wide. There is a slight incline but there are stout wooden handrails on both sides of the bridge with lengthways rails at both 2ft and 3ft 2ins height. The surface of the bridge is covered with wire netting. There is a slight sill.
Shell hide access is not quite as good as at Long Hedge. The bridge is of pierced steel plate, painted over. The perforations in the plate are sufficiently small not to discomfort anyone. The bridge is 2ft 9ins wide and has for the first flat section only, a handrail on the left with the actual rail being at 3 feet above the level of the surface. Then there is a concrete ramp (estimated to be about 8 feet long and 20 degree incline) but this section has also a rail (metal) on the right with rails at 1ft 1in and 2ft 5ins height. There is a small step up in the concrete of about 1 & a half inc and then a sill of 1 inch.
Lynsters Hide is constructed to look over a neighbouring farmers land and another lake (great views of Hobbies there in 2005).
Contributor Michael Watkins
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