Bygone Byways to Hidden Hamlets - A Southwest Surrey Survey
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The only real climb on this walk will be a little one, and right at the start. The view will show us what awaits us: a pleasant if passed-over pattern of pastures and copses on sandy soils where western Surrey meets West Sussex. Led by a convenient combination of tarmac lanes and gravel tracks (plus also some sloppy paths), we'll walk between hamlets and villages of tiled, timbered and bargate stone-built cottages. We'll walk from hilly, woody Hambledon to two villages that surround large greens: Chiddingfold (almost urban and so typically Surrey) and Dunsfold (spacious and scattered like a Sussex village). In the latter we'll have a pub lunch for which I'll send out a menu two weeks before.
Hambledon: A pretty, piecemeal village. Hambledon Common is heathland, somewhat elevated. Heavy Victorian tile-hung houses all around, but Lower Vann is a mixture of C16, C17 and early C20 'all melted together with creeper to form a perfect prototype for Lutyens's Houses' (Ian Nairn) while Marepond Farm has weatherboarded barns.
Dunsfold: A spacious village, built around an enormous green. Mostly brick and tile-hanging. Near Dunsfold Aerodrome (which we won't see as there are no paths there and around it). The church is to itself and surrounded by sturdy Wealden farms, tiled and weatherboarded, the oldest being C15. St Mary and All Saints is a rarity: a complete village church of 1270 built by royal masons that may have worked on Westminter Abbey, hence the quality of the carving. The C13 pews are a highlight. For Simon Jenkins, one of England's thousand best churches. St Mary's Well is a spring with a carved wooden spring head. Healing properties were ascribed to the water (its chemistry is near-identical to the more famous well of St Mary, at Lourdes). (I may omit the church and spring due to time.)
Lagfold Copse: Mixed woodland with some Forestry Commission pine plantation beside the River Lox.
Chiddingfold: A large, pretty village with a loose array of attractive houses arranged around a triangular green. Rustic, timbered cottages are mixed with urbane, symmetrical Georgian houses and picturesque, tile-hung Victorian ones. The Crown Inn is big, half-timbered, C15, possibly earlier as there is a record of a house in the village being let as an inn in 1383. St Mary's Church is C13, but almost all character was swept away by a restoration of 1869. Plaque to Sir William Bragg who used to live nearby. He invented the iron lung (the Bragg-Paul pulsator) in 1933.
The route (please click the link in red to be taken to the route at the Ordnance Survey website. This will also show you the elevations and climbing):
We'll head east, cross the busy A283 and reach Hambledon where we'll climb the common. We'll then walk round one part of the village and continue east along Vann Lane to Upper Vann Lane where we'll cross arable land towards Loxhill where we'll meet Hookhouse Road. This will take us south to Dunsfold, and after a tiny detour to see the church and the well we'll reach Dunsfold proper for lunch. We'll then head southeast along Knightons Lane, then head southwest along Hurlands Lane to cross Plaistow Road. Crossing in a westerly direction Lagfold Copse, we'll reach High Street and then pick up White Beech Lane to find Vann Lane again and head west to Chiddingfold. Heading north through suburban Chiddingfold we'll come off the road and cross Yewen's Hanger to pick up the road to Wormley and Witley Station.
I love having dogs on my walks and this walk is suitable for them. It is of moderate length, but there will be fields with livestock and a number of stiles and roads to negotiate and lanes to walk along. A dog must be obedient if it is off the lead.
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(Images are: Sheep pasture from Lodge Place by Dave Spicer; Hambledon Heath by Humphrey Bolton; Farm buildings on Hookhouse Road by Shazz; The Holy Well Dunsfold by Dave Spicer; St Mary and All Saints Church, Dunsfold: churchyard (5) by Basher Eyre; Oak Tree Cottage by N Chadwick; Rainbow over Dunsfold by Ben Gamble; Dunsfold Common Road by Alan Hunt; Icy morning by Shazz; Footpath junction near Burningfold Manor; Vann Lane in the snow January 2010 by Nicola; Houses on Pockford Road near Chiddingfold by Shazz; Coxcombe lane passing Chiddingfold Pond by Dave Spicer; Chiddingfold, Crown Inn by Colin Smith; Bend in the road the A283 at Chiddingfold by Stefan Czapski; All photos are copyrighted but are above credited to their copyright holders and are licensed for further reuse under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).)
What to bring
Walking boots are essential to cope with some slippery paths. Wear clothing appropriate to the weather including warm kit in case of cold weather and waterproof kit in case of rain. Gaiters might be an option too if conditions are muddy. Much of the walk will be on tarmac lanes, but some off-road tracks will inevitably have mud.
Food & drink
We are booked to have a pub lunch at The Sun Inn in Dunsfold at 13.00. I will send out a menu two weeks before the walk for you to choose what you want to eat in order to create a pre-order. The menu is also among the pictures on here.
Informing me of of your choice does not commit you to attending the walk. The pub will be prepared for cancellations.
Bring a packed lunch if you'd rather have that instead of a pub lunch.
Bring drinks and snacks otherwise.