A walk around Hatchlands Park, one of the largest country estates in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 17:37 25 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:00 26 May 2015
One of the largest country estates in Surrey, Hatchlands Park is found just outside Guildford. This circular walk follows woodland and open parkland, with spectacular views of the historic National Trust house, as well as vibrant bluebells in the spring
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2015
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1 Start at the National Trust car park at Hatchlands Park. Walk from the car park, passing through the visitor reception, and turn right, following the yellow arrows for the Long Walk. Catch a glimpse of the house and garden through the hedges on your left. Continue up a gentle slope, which was once the route of the old A246, and then head on into the first section of woodland.
2 As the woodland opens out, continue along the path, passing the centenary picnic area on your way to the gate at the end of this long, straight path.
3 Turn left through the kissing gate as the woodland gives way to open parkland. Look left and you’ll spot Rookery Pond shaded by trees; to your right is Wix Hill Lodge. Continue to the crest of the hill to reach a viewpoint with a bench and then down the other side to Little Wix Wood.
4 Follow the path part-way down the hill until you have the option to turn through the gate on your right into Little Wix Wood. Spectacular in bluebell season, this woodland loop re-joins the main path at the picnic area. Alternatively, continue along the path until you reach the bottom of the hill.
5 Once at the bottom of the hill, by the exit from Little Wix Wood, you’ll find another picnic area by the timber-framed barn. A little further on, look right to see the splendid gates and lodge cottages in the distance. Take the left gate to continue the walk, re-entering woodland paths lined with a mix of ash, oak, robinia and wild service trees.
6 Follow the path as it turns sharp left back to the south. The paths here are lined with cherry blossoms.
7 Continue on and take the second gate on your left taking you back out into parkland. Then bear right, past Sheepwash Pond, keeping an eye open for the resident bird life. Finally, head across the park and back into the car park.
Carpets of bluebells
In April and May, Little Wix Wood breaks out into a riot of colour with a carpet of bluebells that stretches from entrance to exit and a shady canopy that allows for dappled sunshine. Remember to keep to the paths though, as walking on the bluebells can deplete them forever.
The historic house
Hatchlands Park is an intimate Georgian country house and estate, and you can take a tour of the house and see the superb collection of paintings. It’s also home to tenant Alec Cobbe and his family, whose famous Cobbe Collection includes keyboard instruments that inspired some of the world’s greatest composers such as JC Bach, Elgar and Chopin.
Views of London
For the best views on the whole estate, head to the top of Wix Hill knoll. Looking north across beautiful Surrey countryside towards London, on a clear day you can see the dominant arch above Wembley Stadium.
Surrounded by trees and reeds, this small, peaceful pond is a great picnic spot. Also a haven for wildlife, you can regularly see Canada geese, Egyptian geese, grey herons, terns and kingfishers.
Start: Hatchlands Park car park, East Clandon, Guildford GU4 7RT
Map: Explorer 145
Length of walk: At 2.8 miles, the walk should take around one hour, 30 minutes. The route has some moderate gradients but is mainly flat, along paths and across open parkland, which can be very muddy at times. Dogs are welcome.
Food/drink: The café at Hatchlands Park is open for light lunches, tea, coffee and a wonderful selection of cakes and scones. Outside of the estate, the popular King William IV is just down the road in West Horsley.
While you’re there: Well, it would be rude not to pop in to the house and see the instruments of the Cobbe Collection, right? Make sure to clean your boots first though…
Recommended by: The National Trust – find out more online at: nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park