By Jack Watt-Smyrk
You know the feeling when you turn up to the spot you’ve been poring your sweat and blood into every wet weekend for years only to find everything’s flat? You know, that “What am I gunna ride this summer?" “Maybe I should quit this BMX shit, I’m too old any way" feeling? It’s a shitter aint it? Then a few days later you’re in the pub drinking away your sorrows and all your talking about is how awesome it would be to have your own bit of land. Well after this happened to me for maybe the 5th or 6th time, I woke up after my drunken night of slating the council and decided I had had enough, I was gunna make it happen, I was gunna buy me a piece of land no matter what!
So roll on summer 08. I had a fair bit of cash in the bank and I was on the hunt for land. Now buying land is harder than you may think, consider how long it takes the average trail rider to find a spot that A. has good dirt, B. is either flat or slightly down hill and C. in a area that isn’t gunna have a load of kids come and wreck it. All of that alone is hard to find but try finding a spot that has all of that and is for sale and it’s near on impossible! Eventually I found a section of a field for sale a few miles outside of Aylesbury, £7800 for a ¼ acre. I would have preferred woodland but beggars cant be choosers you know?
Any way I went ahead and bought it and as soon as the land registry had been sorted I booked a digger for three days. Happy days! Well not quite, on the second day of digging an angry looking guy in a suit comes along, turns out he’s from planning enforcement. He tells me how there’s an ‘Article 4’ on the land which is a form of injunction, he starts going into the details saying how I’m not allowed to even put a fence up let alone have the 20ft roll in I’d built. The feeling of having your average unofficial trails ploughed felt like the best sex you’ve ever had compared to this, being told after spending nearly eight large that I had to knock them down was the single worst feeling I’ve ever had.
Luckily I managed to get the money back and within a few months id found another place, woods this time and only £3k for a ¼ acre, I did every possible check to make sure there wasn’t an injunction and the only thing I found was a tree preservation order, the dirt was amazing, it was in woods, there was a ditch for drainage and even a pond to collect water from, so I bought it, happy days once again!
I started off building by hand but it was getting towards the end of summer and I was desperate to ride so I bought in a digger once again…bad move, someone made a complaint. Apparently by having the digger in and digging holes for dirt id committed a cardinal sin in relation to the tree preservation order, apparently trees have these thing called roots under the ground- I know who would’ve thought right? Anyway I’d mashed a load of them up. Then I got the email telling me I had to fill in the holes and the only way to do that was to knock down the jumps. That was the final straw, I was gunna give up on trails, get my “trails not rails" tattoo covered up and ride Corby every week.
I got offered £4 k for my plot of the woods and I nearly sold it but I figured it couldn’t hurt to at least ask if there was a way round it, it turned out that I’d spilled on to someone else’s land and they had made the complaint so we reached a compromise, I’d knock everything down and start again without digging any holes and thank God, matey seemed happy with it, he didn’t have a problem with the jumps he just was a bit vexed at the carnage I’d caused.
So that’s where I’m at now, I’m rebuilding the jumps and getting earth by taking a spades depth off the whole plot and it seems to be ok so far. All in all I’d say the reality of owning woodland isn’t as amazing as it seems when your fucked in the pub, like anything you possess, with ownership comes responsibility and with responsibility comes stress. If your spot gets ploughed, look on the bright side, you haven’t lost any money and your not liable.
As a final note id like to say that if there’s anyone around Aylesbury that is interested and serious about helping out with this spot then le me know as its only me digging at the moment and its taking forever! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org