Day 9 – Cami Mill: Gunpowder Plot

Cami-flage Day 9Saturday 19th September 2020

Because it suits my nefarious purposes, I will share the weather comparison between Surrey and Menorca today

mainly through schadenfreude, as you can see. So, we had a great weather outlook for a walk starting near Albury in Surrey.  Today’s walk can be found on the Explore Surrey section of Alltrails, which is part of a collection set up by Surrey County Council.  And it’s a great walk as you’ll see if you read on.  Here’s its overview.

The conurbation, OK village, bottom left is Shalford and the route runs through Chilworth which is slightly to the right of it.  The timing of the day was actually determined by the Chilworth factor, as the one pub on the route, the Percy Arms in Chilworth, could only offer us a table at 2.30pm, so once again we found ourselves starting the walk shortly after midday and, like mad dogs, going out in the midday sun.

As you can see from the route profile, the first thing to do is to go up.  The landmark to visit is a church, St. Martha’s on the Hill, which is world famous in Surrey.  It normally operates only infrequently

but, sadly, we noted that it has been shut down because of the pandemic.  I’m actually amazed that, pandemic aside, enough people are prepared to clamber up to it on Sunday mornings, because the route up is pretty damn’ steep.

But the church is charming, and the view is stupendously good.

You can see Chilworth, our lunch destination,

and a gin bottle shot seemed the right thing to do.

After a few minutes at the church, we went down again, past wartime defences

on to a path which is one of my favourites of any of the walks we do in Surrey, through mainly beech woodland beside the Tillngbourne river.

At the end of the path, we passed Waterloo Pond

into an area of attractive buildings

which seemed a natural backdrop for another gin bottle shot.

The next part of the walk is one of the highlights of all the walks we do in these ‘ere parts – the Tillingbourne Gunpowder Mills Heritage Trail (giving us the excuse for the title of this post.  I realise I’m straining things a bit, but cut me some slack here, OK?)  I can’t put my finger on why I love this trail, but I do.  We had done this walk recently, and an important part of the trail was barred because of work being done.  We were delighted to see that the trail was fully open.

You pass the remains of several buildings where the gunpowder was manufactured

In the last of these pictures, which are of the buildings where the ingredients (saltpetre, charcoal and sulphur) were mixed, you can see bracing metalwork between the walls, which we guess is the work that was being done; I’m glad that this means the buildings are secured.  Further along the trail are examples of the huge millstones used to grind the powders

(seen here with gin bottle)

and you can also see, in the picture below, the round bedstone which was used as the base for grinding.

A stream runs alongside

and there are also ponds which make the whole place very attractive; and there are boards around which tell the story of the gunpowder mills, the use of which spanned from 1650 to 1920.  All in all, the Heritage Trail is a great place to visit.

The next stop was a short way along a path into Chilworth, where we lunched at the Percy Arms.

This is quite an operation, being pub, restaurant, B&B and butchers, with a takeaway service as well as eat-in.  The menu has a distinct South African slant to it (as does the wine list), which means that the portions are hearty; we had a very enjoyable lunch there.  As well as a lot of indoors, and a decking terrace, the place has a big garden which features a great canopy

which in Oman would be called a Majlis – a great idea to ensure that people can sit out even in weather less clement than today’s.

After lunch, our ongoing route took us through Chilworth, where you can just make out St. Martha’s in the distance

through some very horsey territory, including one horse who tried to persuade us he was a zebra

but we didn’t fall for it. The route goes through fields by a stream which is the basis for water cress beds in neighbouring fields.

up a track with some very spooky hazel trees

across a railway

(which gives opportunities for some fun)

past a bus shelter which doubles as a library

and some magnificent chimney work

before debouching into Albury Park.

One might be forgiven for thinking we were nearly done, but the path goes on a long way through the countryside near Albury

by some wonderful traditional hedging work done by the Surrey Hedgelaying Group

to one of the other unexpected pleasures of the route – Sherbourne Catholic Apostolic Church.

The path carries on, past the biggest log pile <Jeremy Clarkson voice ON> in the WORLD <Jeremy Clarkson voice OFF>

past some more lovely bucolic countryside

up a very steep path

and past some more countryside, at the top of which one can see Newlands Corner (my favourite hill to cycle up if I fancy a challenge)

before depositing us back at our car park, some 10.64 miles after we started.  That’s short of the Menorcan equivalent distance, but only by 0.15 miles, which is virtually a rounding error.  Our cumulative distance so far is 83.78 miles, nearly five miles further than we would have walked by this stage had we been in Menorca.  And (whisper it) we’ve had better weather for walking.

Tomorrow’s weather promises to be warmer than today’s so it’s probably just as well that the walk in prospect is shorter.  It has one or two unusual features in it, though, so I hope you feel minded to come back and find out about it.  Maybe see you then…..

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