Surrey spring walks inspiration for National Walking Month
PUBLISHED: 13:14 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:07 18 May 2017
Surrey is blessed with one of the most extensive footpath networks in the country. Chairman of Surrey Hills Society, Christine Howard, picks 10 easy countryside walks to explore for National Walking Month this May
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2017
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1. Newlands Corner
THE LOW-DOWN: This Surrey beauty spot has stunning views over the Surrey Hills and a very special grove of ancient yew trees. It was made famous when crime writer Agatha Christie disappeared from here in 1926. It has a café, toilets, and a small visitor centre. There is an easy access short walk suitable for families, or you could just take in the view with an ice cream. The area is popular for kite flying too. The land is owned by the Duke of Northumberland and is open to the public via an access agreement with Surrey County Council. The car park and visitor centre is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.
START/FINISH: Newlands Corner Car Park, Drove Road, Albury GU4 8SE – parking charges start this month.
POST-WALK REFRESHER: Squirrel Hill Café, Dorking Road, Newlands Corner, Surrey GU4 8SE - a deli-style café with nice cakes and great views.
2. Devil’s Punch Bowl
THE LOW-DOWN: This large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot is the source of many stories of murder and highwaymen. A little more relaxingly though, there are good flat walks around the edge of the bowl and a nice little National Trust café with toilets for visitors these days. Not so long ago, the London to Portsmouth road (the A3) skirted the centre of the site before the long Hindhead Tunnel was built in 2011. The land here was among the first to come into the possession of the National Trust and the Victorians called it “Little Switzerland”.
START/FINISH: The Devil’s Punchbowl Car Park, London Road, Hindhead. Post code: GU26 6AB
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Devil’s Punchbowl Hotel, Hindhead, which is opposite the car park - the hotel was originally built as a country residence for the Hon Rollo Russell, whose father, Lord John Russell, was England’s first Liberal Prime Minister.
3. Frensham Great Ponds
THE LOW-DOWN: Head for the beach at this large area of common land and sandy ponds near Farnham. It’s a Green Flag award-winning site that is great for a summer picnic and paddle. Refreshments and toilets (including wheelchair accessible facilities) are also available. Frensham Pond Sailing Club is based here, so there is always lots to look at on the water as well as off it. The area is managed by Waverley Borough Council.
START/FINISH: The address for the main car park is Bacon Lane, Churt. The nearest postcode is GU10 2QB.
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Holly Bush, Shortfield Common Road, Frensham, Surrey GU10 3BJ – this is a traditional and relaxed English pub.
4. Farnham Park
THE LOW-DOWN: Farnham Park is a medieval deer park within walking distance of Farnham town centre. The park has a large adventure playground, a toddlers play area, a path suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists, café, toilets, a nine-hole golf course, cricket club and two football pitches. It’s a great place to enjoy a day out, and there’s free access to Farnham Castle Keep, where you can enjoy great views of the town. There are regular weekend music events in Gostrey Meadow, a short stroll away.
START/FINISH: The main car park is off Folly Hill (A 287), between Farnham and Upper Hale. Post code: GU9 OAU
POST–WALK REFRESHER: The Queen’s Head, 9 The Borough, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7NA.
5. Lightwater Country Park
THE LOW-DOWN: An important fragment of the once vast Bagshot Heath, Lightwater Country Park extends to 59 hectares and consists of a variety of habitats – it also includes a visitor centre, leisure centre, picnic areas, public toilets and good access for the disabled. Some of the paths can be steep, but you will be rewarded by great views of Guildford, Woking, Ascot, Bagshot Park and the London skyline.
START/FINISH: Located just off Junction 3 of the M3 motorway between the villages of Bagshot and Lightwater. From Guildford and Bracknell it is signed off the A322. Post code: GU18 5RG.
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Red Lion, 114 Guildford Road, Lightwater, Surrey GU18 5RP.
6. Titsey Place
THE LOW-DOWN: This impressive manor house is set in the stunning countryside of the North Downs. A visit could include a guided tour of the house, which dates back to the 16th century. There are stunning gardens, including the walled kitchen gardens, landscaped lakes, and parkland, bordered by broadleaf woodland to walk through. Completing the idyllic English scene, is the ‘Titsey Herd’ of pedigree Sussex cattle and the tea rooms, which are open on Wednesdays and weekends throughout the summer.
START/FINISH: Titsey Place and Gardens, between Tatsfield and Limpsfield. Nearest post code: RH8 OSA
POST-WALK REFRESHER: Botley Hill Farmhouse, Limpsfield Road, Warlingham, Surrey CR6 9QH.
7. Queen’s Park and Colley Hill
THE LOW-DOWN: Enjoy this easy access walk along the North Downs Way with spectacular views towards the South Downs. The walk takes in Colley Hill, Reigate Hill and the interesting attractions of Reigate Fort and the Inglis Memorial. Reigate Fort was one of 13 ‘mobilisation centres’ built along the North Downs in the 1890s to protect London from invasion by the French. This area is owned by the National Trust and Reigate and Banstead Borough Council.
START/FINISH: National Trust car park at Margery Wood, just a three-minute drive from Junction 8 of the M25. Approximate post code: KT20 7BD.
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Sportsman, Mogador Road, Lower Kingswood, Surrey KT20 7ES – this is a cosy, dog-friendly pub in a former 16th-century royal hunting lodge offering comfort food. It also boasts a large garden.
8. Virginia Water Lake
THE LOW-DOWN: Take a stroll at Virginia Water Lake and you’ll discover the folly ruins of Leptis Magna. The real historical Leptis Magna is in Libya, but the stones you can see on this walk were brought to Britain as a present for the Prince Regent – they were originally moved to the British Museum and then re-assembled in Surrey, not necessarily correctly, by Sir Jeffery Wyatville. The 10m-high Cascade was originally built in the 1750s, together with a cave and grotto. It was all swept away by a storm a few years later and then rebuilt in this lower position by the architect Thomas Sandby in the 1780s. The park is owned and managed by the Crown Estate.
START/FINISH: There is a free parking area in Wick Road or use the official Wick Road car park. Post code: TW20 0HN
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Bailiwick on Wick Road, Englefield Green, Surrey TW20 0HN – it’s a pub and dining pub in a former Victorian shop.
9. Shere Millennium Trail
THE LOW-DOWN: This is a challenging 15km walk for the more experienced walker but well worth the effort. It passes through some of the most delightful countryside and quaint villages in England, including the famous village of Shere, which has appeared in numerous movies including The Holiday, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Wedding Date. The land here is privately owned but more than 90 years ago, Reginald Bray, Lord of the Manor of Shere, granted the public a ‘right to roam’ with ‘open access for air and exercise’ on the Hurtwood – one of the first estates in England to do so.
START/FINISH: Peaslake village, Peaslake Lane, Peaslake GU5 9RL. Follow the special millennium markers – you can download the full 15km walk from Shere Parish Council website.
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Hurtwood Inn, Peaslake, Surrey GU5 9RR – this pub used to be a bakery but has been a hotel and pub since l920.
10. Box Hill
THE LOW-DOWN: There can’t be many more famous picnics than the one written about Box Hill in Jane Austen’s Emma! Enjoy the stunning views from this popular site, which is owned and managed by the National Trust. It includes a visitor centre, shop, topograph memorial, café, toilets and also a Napoleonic Hill Fort to explore. There are easy to access walks around the top of the hill, or you could take the challenge of walking down to the valley below, where you can cross over the River Mole on the ancient stepping stones.
START/FINISH: Box Hill Car Park, one mile north of Dorking. Post code: KT20 7LB
POST-WALK REFRESHER: The Stepping Stones, Westhumble Street, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6BS – this is a quaint village pub with gastropub menu and real ales.
We’re launching a Surrey Hills inspired photography competition in June’s Surrey Life magazine and would love to see your favourite photography from your Surrey walks. Share your pics with us at surreylife.co.uk/photos and on social media.