Tag Archives: Chobham Common

Day 8 – Cami in, the water’s lovely!

Cami-flage Day 8 Friday 18th September 2020

Because today’s walk was along local paths, we had the luxury of a leisurely start; so different from our normal holidays, when it seems we have to be up early to be getting on with whatever has been set up for the day. So in our very comfortable and eerily familiar holiday hotel room, drinking the Right Sort Of Tea, we could think about the forthcoming walks and set about important planning activities, i.e. booking pub lunch spots. Just as well we did, as we discovered one pub wouldn’t be open on the day we passed it.

We were also able to check on the weather outlook, both for Surrey and Menorca. Today promised to be sunny in Surrey and cloudy in Menorca (though eight degrees warmer there) and generally speaking the prospects for our part of the UK are more conducive to enjoying the walks. We’ve been lucky so far; let’s hope our luck holds.

Plans laid, breakfast and coffee consumed, we set out on today’s walk. Because it’s close to my home, and close to my heart, this is a long post, but I hope you’ll bear with me for this one.

On this map, the village of Chobham is the cluster of habitations toppish leftish.

We have a pubic footpath going through our front yard (long story, blame the people who owned the place before us) and we really can start the walk from our front door. The path is basically fine, but gets a bit overgrown in places in the summer

and shorts are not a wise clothing choice for this nettle-strewn section. The path goes through a wholesale nursery called Daydawn

which I’m glad to say is recovering after really suffering during the pandemic lockdown. They now have areas with plants waiting to be delivered to other nurseries

but there are also remnants showing how bad it got during the lockdown, which was disastrously timed for the plant industry.

The path then goes through an area called Deep Pool. Here is the eponymous pool, which, despite stern warnings, is not at all deep, largely due to the dry weather we’ve had of late.

By comparison, here’s how it looked after Storm Dennis whistled through in February of this year.

Similarly, just along from the pool is a bridge over the local river Bourne, which looks idyllic on a quiet summer day.

But in the February rains, it was submerged at times. For a long time, the water level was very high, lapping at the bridge spars, as shown in this photo.

The path continues through to Horsell Common, which has borrowed some cattle to mow (moo…?) the lawn.

They can be found at various places in the wide open spaces of the common.

The common is popular among local horse riders

and is generally a nice place to walk, with attractive woodland paths.

This one goes past an example of the shelters which have cropped up on this and Chobham Commons. I don’t know what their provenance is; perhaps the local rangers are practising their forestry skills or something?

Along a bit further, our path took us by a café called Heather Farm, just by some wetlands that are run under the auspices of the Horsell Common Preservation Society. It’s a popular café, but any temptation we might have felt to pop in vanished as we saw the size of the pandemic-mandated queue. “Perhaps later”, we thought.

We crossed the common heading, on well-made paths, for Fairoaks Airport. There are bridges and streams, just made for doggy-paddling on such a lovely summer’s day.

Again, I thought it worth comparing the view from one of the bridges today

with how it looked last February.

As we approach Fairoaks, I’m always amused by a sign that one can just about pick out in the shrubbery

(here is it is, in more detail) .

To quote Michael Flanders, “there’s not much you can do about this. Maybe take your hat off?”

The path goes right by the airport and it’s not unusual to find a couple of plane spotters watching the action, as you are very close to light aircraft going in or out (depending on wind direction). We stopped for some moments to watch the fun as aircraft came in

and take a gin bottle shot.

The route took us onto the western end of the airport and Jane reminded me that there’s a café there. Given my strong feelings about not walking past an open café on a hike, we felt it absolutely essential to make the short detour for tea and cake. The facility is basic,

with commensurate pricing, but it’s a reasonable place to have a cuppa on a sunny day,

admire the view of the distant building work in Woking

and take another bottle shot.

We then crossed the road and headed towards Chobham Common, through an area called Stanyards, mainly because of Stanyards Farm

(which has an orchard with some lovely-looking apples ripening)

and Stanyards Cottage. Very handsome buildings they are, too.

The path carries on for some distance, crossing Gracious Pond Road

which is a reminder that we have reached Chobham Common (you’ll have been paying attention to last Sunday’s post, where we mention that Gracious Pond is a disused and now drained pond, won’t you?). And the far point of the walk is the delightful Fishpool, which you’ll also have admired in that post as well, of course you will.

It really is a delightful place, with young moorhens piping as they dabble about and, quite surprisingly, water lilies still open and thriving.

It is, of course, a good environment for another bottle shot.

and we left with one last look at the peaceful and lovely water (hence the title of this post).

The path carries on back towards Gracious Pond Road past another shelter, this one with real living material as part of it,

and a massive ants’ nest.

I really like the paths along this part of the common, which have a different character from the typical woodland paths hereabouts.

The route took us back (via a short, but nonetheless very unrewarding, stretch on a main road) towards Chobham, then branching off on a path

which all of a sudden brought us out into the middle of Fairoaks airfield.

I was hoping for some more aircraft action,

but no luck, so we carried on, past a very unusual sign,

to the next stage of the walk: through the parkland setting of the McLaren Technology Centre (McLaren the Formula 1 racing team and upmarket sports car manufacturer). The Centre is a stunning building, which seemed a good backdrop for a bottle shot.

As you can see, McLaren are big on privacy and one can’t get close enough to the main building for a really good photo. Here’s the best I could manage.

The park is quite nicely landscaped, with lakes and areas with picnic tables for people to, well, picnic at.

After McLaren Park, the route re-enters Horsell Common beside a couple of houses, one of which has, unusually, a totem pole outside it; this looks as though it is creative re-purposing of the remains of a tree…

We carried on to the main path that leads across this main part of Horsell Common. It’s a long, broad path

which is normally a-buzz with people, but which today was very quiet indeed. Perhaps people’s joy at schools going back means that they can’t be bothered to skive off on a Friday afternoon? Who knows? Anyway, the path is world-famous because it leads past a sand pit. Not just any old sand pit, you understand, but the very one where H. G. Wells’s Martians first landed when they made their bid for Planet Earth!

Off to the side of the long path are some steep drops which are a great attraction (on busier days than today) for kids on mountain bikes who love nothing more than to go plummeting off the edge.

Today, the common was very peaceful. We past a handsome stand of trees in lovely light

which gave me the idea to try an artistic shot with ICM (photographer’s jargon for Intentional Camera Movement). It only took a dozen or so attempts to get something that looked approximately how I wanted it to.

and then we headed off on the rest of our route which happened, goodness gracious, to lead us near to Heather Farm, where we were able to get ourselves a final tea-and-cake refuelling before heading the last mile or so home. Today’s mileage was 10.82, well in excess of the 8.11 of the corresponding Menorca outing. We’re now about 5 miles up on the overall required distance.

We feel very lucky to have such great walking countryside right by where we live; being able to reach it quickly for daily exercise certainly helped make lockdown bearable earlier in the year. As you’ll have noted from the other posts in this series, we’re near Windsor Great Park and the Surrey Hills, both lovely areas for walking in. Tomorrow’s walk is an interesting one in the Surrey Hills, involving gunpowder, so I hope you’ll come back to this blog to Read All About It then.

Day 3 – Cami by the back door – Chobham Common South

Cami-flage Day 3Sunday 13th September 2020

Real life of a sort intruded on our Menorcan recreation project, but in a good way: we needed to get over to see some friends for lunch and so it was part planning and part fortune that today’s route was a short one – some 6 miles – which meant we could leap out after breakfast, get the walk done and then lunch elsewhere, rather than making lunch or other refreshment part of the walk. So we had chosen a nice local walk over Chobham Common, just the other side of the village from us; the original plan had us stopping for a glass of something in the Red Lion in Chobham, but our subsequent lunch plan means that that will have to wait for another day.

First, the all-important weather comparison between here and Menorca.  I may not carry this meme along too much longer, as the story it tells is quite consistent – it’s hotter there than here

and actually, that’s fine – walking in 20-odd degree temperatures is much nicer than 30-odd degrees.  Whatever, it was a beautiful late Summer/early Autumn morn for our walk.

We’ve lived in these ‘ere parts for nigh on 30 years, and for the first incurious twenty or so we would occasionally treat ourselves to “a walk on the Common”, which we struggled to make longer than five miles before running out of Common to roam across. It gradually became clear that we’d been limiting ourselves to just one part of the common – the part north of the M3 (between Lightwater and the M25 junction). It was only recently that we sought out a route which enabled us to explore the south side of the common, and then it became clear how much larger and more delightful it is than we had realised.

Here’s an outline of today’s walk, 6 and a half miles around the periphery of the south side of the common. The M3 runs across the top in this picture.


As yesterday, the fact that it was a weekend bore heavily on the popularity of the car park.

This is despite the efforts of the local council, who have made the entrance quite a tricky thing to negotiate in anything larger than a go-kart.

(The blocks were originally set there to close the car park during early lockdown, but I wish they’d moved them a little further apart once this had eased.)

Anyway, once on to the walk, the early parts have scenery similar to the north side which is so familiar to us

but this soon changes to a different kind of terrain.

One of the things that marks this walk out is its variety.  Where the north side is largely open heathland, the south side (as you will see if you can bear to keep reading) has a huge variation in surroundings.

A bit further on, the trail heads down and one begins to get some kind of idea how big the south side actually is.

(It’s actually quite difficult to convey in a single photo – but the common stretches from left to right horizons and suddenly seems quite imposing.)  In the distance you can see the latest building efforts going on to drag Woking into the modern age.

And every so often you can see evidence of the fires the regularly sweep the common in summer.  Here you can see that regrowth is under way.

(Fires on the common are regular occurrences, but the north side was badly hit by a huge fire in summer 2020

and here you can see the demarcation line where the fire services stopped it in its tracks.)

Sorry, back to the mainstream of today’s symposium.  The trail leads by the fringes of Gracious Pond, once (up to the 1800s) a 50-acre pond, but now drained and a closed sanctuary and nature reserve

and the terrain changes again, into woodland.

with mystery objects such as this moss-laden “fairy ring”

and occasional shelters – we’re not quite sure of the provenance of these; are they official or have schoolkids been out on a field trip or something?

and occasional groups of horse riders might be glimpsed through the trees.

The track then continues on to a secret delight of the common

Fishpool – a really lovely body of water – we will return for a more detailed (I hesitate to say in-depth) look later in the Cami-flage endeavour.  This seemed like a perfect scene to show our gin bottle.

The roads hereabouts play host to some lovely houses, like this one

and it becomes clear that Chobham is home to some serious horsey business.

Much of this is based around Chobham Park Farm

where they have many fields and horses, and also something of an issue with Himalayan Balsam, which they need to sort out pronto, before it gets even more established.

The track carries on through woodland, past some truly wonderful properties

and eventually debouches on the northern fringes of Chobham village, where you can find a village green and the Four Horseshoes, a decent gastropub.

The buildings in these parts of the village are very attractive.  Just beside the pub is a (posh) restaurant called Stovells,

and there are some really attractive cottages further up the road towards Sunningdale.

At this point, it’s entirely possible to miss the trail, unless you know about the footpath, which leaves the road just beyond this fence

and leads into another little world of tracks and heathland

The track then crosses Staple Hill road and goes up the rather oddly-named Chickabiddy Hill

and back into the more familiar open healthland

before heading back to the car park where we started.

This is a lovely walk, showing off the range and variety of Chobham Common.  On a day like today, sunny and warm, it’s a delight to walk around.  We covered 6.34 miles today, thus exceeding the Menorca equivalent, which was 5.94.  So we are, as it were, ahead of ourselves on the overall distance travelled (so far, over 28.5 miles).

Tomorrow sees a walk that is little longer but somewhat more challenging, up Holmbury and Pitch Hills.  So please join us as we pant our way up and down parts of the Surrey Hills.  See you there!