Surrey walk around the Devil’s Punch Bowl
PUBLISHED: 16:44 05 June 2014 | UPDATED: 15:53 02 July 2018
Steeped in local folklore, this beautiful walk will also take you to the second highest point in the county
Start: The Devil’s Punch Bowl National Trust car park. Take an NT card or up-to-date windscreen sticker for free parking. Non-members pay £3.50 for parking.
Grid reference: SU 891 357
Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 133
Length of walk: Five miles
Food/drink: Try the National Trust’s Punch Bowl Café or the Devil’s Punchbowl Hotel.
While you’re there: After pottering around Hindhead (and possibly heading over to Grayshott Pottery, makers of English stoneware since 1956), why not visit Haslemere – a bustling shopping town that maintains a friendly village atmosphere.
Recommended by: Farnham Ramblers Group. Visit farnhamramblers.org.uk.
1 From the car park, facing the café, go right past the Surrey Hills pole to the viewpoint over the Punch Bowl. Facing the view, take the wide level path to the left, which goes along the west rim of the Punch Bowl. Follow this and you will come to a junction of paths just after a radio mast.
2 Here, take a right fork through a wooden gate and past a noticeboard. After 100m, the path forks just after a seat. Either path is fine, but the one on the right has better views then rejoins the main path. Shortly after, take the right path of three to a viewpoint at the Robertson memorial. Keep on and this path rejoins the main one.
3 After 400m, take a sharp right at a waymark post in a wood. This will take you down into the Punch Bowl. At a waymark post by a farm gate, follow the path round to the left ignoring the path going straight on. You will pass the entrance to a farmhouse on the right and then descend to a wooden bridge across the stream. Next, carry on uphill along a sunken path.
4 At the top, go through a wooden gate and immediately afterwards take the left path. You now start rising gradually out of the Punch Bowl. The path goes straight and, after a while, loops round to the right and then runs alongside a fence with the slope down to the Punch Bowl on your right. Just after the fence ends, go straight over a junction up a sandy track past a log/bench. There are now views to the right of the west rim that you walked along earlier, with a path to a viewpoint near a clump of pine trees.
5 After this viewpoint, follow the path as it twists and then bear left past the corner of a fence then left again and onto a wide path going uphill, ignoring the path to the left by a fence.
6 When you get to a one-bar metal barrier, turn right onto a stony track. Keep on this path, which takes you down the east rim of the Punch Bowl. Fork right at the end of a row of short, wooden posts along a narrower path passing a sign saying ‘pedestrian path’. Take this up to a high spot with views in all directions. Keep going in the same direction, taking you downhill. Then bear left and go right through a wooden gate next to a cattle grid and down to a surfaced track. Cross this (the old Portsmouth Road) to an uphill track diagonally opposite, which runs parallel to a surfaced drive.
7 After a while, the track becomes surfaced. Follow it, going gradually uphill, with the stretch of the A3 trunk road made redundant by the tunnel to your right, between you and the Punch Bowl. You will reach another one-bar green metal barrier at a junction on your left. Take the left-hand path here to go 300m downhill to a viewing point of the Hindhead Tunnel, then retrace your steps to the barrier.
8 From the original route, fork left on a path past the barrier, passing two concrete blocks. Very soon, fork right by a waymark post to ascend to Gibbet Hill, where you will see the Celtic Cross, a triangulation pillar and a great view. Turn right at the triangulation pillar, along a broad path, so that you are going directly away from the view. Keep straight on passing another of the green metal barriers.
9 Go straight over a junction to go through a gate beside a cattle grid, keeping straight ahead. Shortly, fork right at a waymark post along a bridleway. Keep straight on until you reach a junction with a seat. Go right on the wide sandy track and follow this to the starting car park.
• Be sure to spend time enjoying the views inwards over the Devil’s Punch Bowl and out over Haslemere and the South Downs. Local legend says that the punch bowl got its name because the Devil used to live at the ‘Devil’s Jumps’ and battled with the God of Thunder who lived at nearby Thor’s Lie (Thursley).
• At Gibbet Hill, you’ll find the rather gruesome tale of where three murderers of a sailor were hanged and left to rot on the gibbet. It also happens to be the second highest point in Surrey and has views across the Weald.
• Along this walk, there are three generations of the London to Portsmouth road (two of which are no longer used): the Old Portsmouth road, the A3 trunk road and a view down to the entrance to the new A3 tunnel.