Tag Archives: Sunshine

Day 12 – Cami towards the end; Day 12 of 13

Cami-flage Day 12 Tuesday 22nd September 2020

Today is the penultimate day of our substitute walking holiday, where (sorry, this is like a Channel 4 programme after an ad break where they have to remind you what’s going on) we decided to recreate a pandemic-cancelled holiday walking round the outside of Menorca on the Cami de Cavalls by doing equivalent distances in England. Over the previous 11 days, we have walked over 102 miles in lovely late Summer/early Autumn English weather, instead of sweating our way up and down foreign hills in nasty 30-degree heat. Today would appear to be the last day for which this is true.

The outlook for our walk today is sunny, but clouding over (as opposed to the risk of rain in Menorca, nah, nah-ni, nah nah). However, our luck may run out tomorrow.

Anyway, today our walk takes us to the other end of the Surrey Hills from yesterday – Haslemere.

(We start at bottom left and walk the loop counter-clockwise.) Haslemere seems to sit at the junction between the Surrey Hills and the South Downs, if the sign outside the station is to be believed.

We decided to park the car by the station, despite the station car park’s very confusing signage about it being only appropriate for season ticket holders, or something like that.  Whatever, it didn’t look as if we would have trouble finding a space.

We walked along Lower Street, which was radically different from the previous time we saw it when we did this walk last, which was in July this year, not quite three months ago.  Today, it looked like this.

But when we came before, it was a radically different proposition for traffic and pedestrians alike.

Haslemere is a handsome town with some lovely buildings.  I think there must have been a tile factory nearby, or a really good tile salesman, since hanging tiles are a frequently chosen decorative option.  The High Street is a good example of its handsomeness.

The eponymous Church of St. Bartholomew

has a positively baronial vicarage!

We soon cleared the town into some open countryside

where a barn showed, once again, the approach of Autumn in the colours in the creepers across the roof.

We reckon that it won’t be long before the Russian Vine and Virginia Creeper play a degree of havoc with some of the wiring.

One thing that becomes very clear very quickly is that Haslemere backs on to some substantial hills.  Our path wound upwards quite abruptly, and rather steeply.

The path we followed is part of the Greensand Way, a long-distance path that covers Kent and Surrey.  The Long Distance Walkers’ Association (no relation) describe it as “challenging”

and, frankly, if you’d tried to get any kind of vehicle up that path, you’d certainly have faced some challenges.

Once up, there’s a short stretch of open country

before going down again. There are some very fine views to behold

before going, you guessed it, up again, on the final pull up to the Devil’s Punchbowl, where one finds the eponymous Hotel.

This is a fine building, which contains a pub, but we courageously walked past it and merely decided it would be a good backdrop for the first gin bottle shot of the day.

It’s right on the old A3, for those who, like me, remember the days before the Hindhead Tunnel. The Devil’s Punchbowl itself is a geological feature, a massive fold in the landscape with a visitor centre, walking trails and that. There’s a great view

(and a café, from which we gratefully purchased tea and cake).

Moving on took us past more lovely views; this is my attempt at an arty shot of hillsides receding into the haze.

There’s heathland

which gives opportunities for gin bottle shots

and we shortly arrived at the highest point of the walk, the top of Gibbet Hill, the second-highest point in Surrey (the highest being Leith Hill – but you knew that because you were paying attention to my earlier posts, weren’t you?) which provides more spectacular views

and opportunities for gin bottle shots.

There’s a Celtic Cross there

which was erected to attempt to dispel fears of the ghosts of the people who were hanged there on the gibbet which charmingly gave its name to the place.

Thence, the path goes, unsurprisingly, down

eventually passing the site of the Temple of the Four Winds, marked now by just its platform,

by which are some more great views

and a further gin bottle shot opportunity.  Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Continuing down, the path goes past a wonderful grove of beech trees with roots exposed

and thence to a place where there’s clearly been some pretty extreme forestry – really quite an extraordinary scene.

After that, we passed Halcyon House, which, I guess, is in Kingfisher colours (today I learned that Halcyon is the genus of the Kingfisher)

and which has a lovely garden with a duckpond. But we didn’t see any kingfishers.

We greeted the lady of the house cheerily as we walked by, but she rather grumpily ignored us, presumably fed up with Bloody Tourists; but, then again, why buy a place like that with a path going through it, eh? Eh? Answer me that, then.

Continuing down took us by some newish-but-nicely-done cottages

into Grayswood, a very pleasant village on the fringes of Haslemere.  It has a handsome church,

village green,

eccentrically-decorated tree

and some lovely villagey houses, including this arty one.

The route we took, which is part of the Explore Surrey section on Alltrails.com, then takes another final loop out into the country.  We passed a Hammer Pond, so-called because it’s so deep that if you drop a hammer into it, you’ll never get it back.

(Actually, I made that bit up; a hammer pond is merely a body of water that was used to drive a waterwheel which powered a furnace hammer.) In the case of this pond, the furnace was at Imbham Farm, which we walked past.  As we did so, we noted (a) the nice rolling countryside and (b) the incoming clouds, telling us that the long streak of wonderful weather we’d been fortunate to experience for these walks was coming to an end.

The route goes by and through the fields of Swan Barn Farm. a National Trust location, where long-term volunteers live in a specially designed eco-house built with locally sourced, sustainable wood from the Black Down Estate. It also features the Hunter Basecamp, where people on working holidays (in the days when these are available) stay while helping with the work.  The streams between the fields are crossed by some charming paths and bridges

and the farm has a tractor

which in and of itself is hardly an item worthy of mention; but the facial expression of this one is striking.

I think it reminds me of The Hound in Fahrenheit 451, or some such sci-fi film.

We exited the lane by Swan Barn Farm back into the middle of Haslemere, and, screwing our courage to the sticking point, decided to go home rather than have a pizza.  It was a nice walk, quite strenuous in places – a total ascent of over 1200 feet – and 10.71 miles in length. The comparison with Menorca is complicated, so pay attention, now.

We have swapped the two final UK walks over, so today’s UK walk should be compared with tomorrow’s Menorca walk and vice versa.  The reason for this is to do with Lunch.  Originally, we had the Denbies walk (tomorrow’s, keep up) set for today, and today’s set for tomorrow.  But today’s walk, although being of an appropriate length compared to the Menorca schedule, offered nowhere for a Nice Lunch, so if we’d done it tomorrow, we would have had nowhere, on our last day, to celebrate our achievement. This would be a shame.  However, the Denbies walk, originally planned for today but now happening tomorrow (are you still with me?) offers the prospect of a Nice Lunch at the Wine Estate’s Gallery Restaurant. So we decided to do it tomorrow, so we could seal the while Menorca Walk deal in an appropriate way. That’s why we swapped the two over.

So, today’s walk was about a quarter of a mile shorter than tomorrow’s Menorca equivalent.  Tomorrow, we expect to walk about half a mile further than today’s Menorca equivalent.

OK? Clear?

We’ve now walked over 113 miles in total and have just one more day to do to complete our virtual walk round the outside of Menorca. Tomorrow, as I say, we wind up the endeavour with the Denbies walk in the Surrey Hills. With luck, we may complete it without being rained on, but you’ll have to come back and Read All About It to find out, won’t you?

Day 11 – Cami again? A second Leith Hill Dose

Cami-flage Day 11 Monday 21st September 2020

After yesterday’s mournful maunderings about aches and pains, we both felt reasonably chipper today and keen to get on with the day’s walk; buoyed, perhaps by the continuing schadenfreude generated by the weather comparison between Surrey and Menorca, which featured both a nicer walking temperature and agreeably less chance of rain.

Our destination today was, for the second time (hence the title), Leith Hill, the highest point in Surrey, but this time approached from a different direction.

The start of the walk is top right, North Holmwood, which is south of Dorking (just off the image to the top); the major road shown is the A24, which we would therefore have to cross twice. The profile is basically up then down; hardly a surprise when the mid point is the highest point in the county.

However, this walk underlined the vagaries of unreliable memory, especially my unreliable memory. We had done this walk before, on only one occasion – records show that this was October 2016, so four years ago.  The only memory I had of the walk was the final gently uphill trail to Leith Hill Tower, which would have been the first time I’d visited there.  So, I thought we’d have a basically gentle-ish uphill walk there, followed by a gentle downhill walk back. The reality, although true in principle, is somewhat different in practice, and I had no memory at all of most of the scenes we passed.  Jane, however, remembered most aspects of the walk and described them to me in advance of us reaching them; this, of course, meant very little to me – except for a handful of scenes, when Jane’s reminder brought the memory back to me.

Some of the aspects I had forgotten involved some really quite steep ascents. Four years ago, I would have been quite a bit heavier and much less fit; I certainly found uphill work very unrewarding until really very recently.  So perhaps my brain had excised the unpleasant memories?  I eventually remembered some of the pleasant ones, but the uphill stuff seemed all new to me today.

Anyway, enough of this prattle about….sorry, what was I talking about?

The weather for today’s walk was absolutely superb; temperature about 20°C and sunshine.  But there was something about the quality of the light which made the day so pleasant.  I guess it was late Summer/early Autumn light, but it reminded both of us of the sort of light we’d experience on a trip abroad. So the whole day had an extra air of holiday about it, which is nice, since the whole idea of this fortnight was to be a holiday.

From the car park, the walk starts along a path which is nice whichever way you look along it

and it led past some trees with truly spectacular Virginia Creeper entwined.

(Further intimations of approaching Autumn….).  Sheep meadows

are followed by woodland – and the first of several sharpish uphill segments.

This walk, like many we have done in Surrey, comes from Fancy-Free Walks.  Jane brings the directions with her and reads them out as we go along so we both know what happens next.  She mentioned that the path went by a low bar, and I foolishly thought we might be able to stop in for a drink in an interesting dive.  But no….

We thought the very least we could do was to put our gin bottle on the low bar.

As we carried on, there was some lovely light coming through the trees.

Then we reached the one bit of the walk that I remembered from four years ago, the gentle rise to Leith Hill Tower.

When we got to the top, we discovered that the café was open, so we stopped for tea and cake and I got the drone out for a quick whizz.


Refreshed, we started down again, really quite steeply at first

but then levelling out a bit as we went into an area called Duke’s Warren, which has some great views, suitably enhanced, of course, by the presence of our gin bottle.

There’s some very fine heath land

and then the trail descends into Coldharbour, which at 750 feet is the highest community in the south of England. It has a chequered history.  According to the Fancy-Free Walks guide, “Coldharbour must be one of the most romantic isolated villages of the Surrey hills. For many years it was looked on with fear by inhabitants of the lowland towns as a refuge for smugglers who would keep their caches of contraband in safe underground sites and would deal ruthlessly with any outsider who interfered.”

All that’s as may be, but the important feature of Coldharbour for us today was

the pub, where we planned to take lunch.  The Plough brews its own beers – I can recommend Crooked Furrow, for example – and we had there the best fish’n’chips I can remember having  anywhere; it really was very good indeed.

Suitably refuelled, we continued downhill, where we got a final view of the village

before heading once again into woodland.

passing a place where they clearly had swingers’ parties

and emerging into open countryside at Anstiebury Farm, where the views continue to be quite spectacular.

There’s more open countryside

before the track goes back into the woods, where one can see the most extraordinary holly tree.

Quite how it has grown this way is not clear – maybe someone has trained it that way over the years – but it’s very striking.

The trail joins a road past some very fine buildings

before reaching South Holmwood, which has a beautiful church and churchyard.

The path carries on in its varied way, between meadows and woods;  it passes one very fine property called Mill House, which has wonderful chimneys

a fascinating tree platform in the garden

and (it being the time of year it is) a spectacular acer.

Now in the final stages of the walk, we approached North Holmwood once again via some splendid views

which we thought appropriate for a final gin bottle shot of the day – and it was joined by a friend it picked up in the pub at lunchtime.

There’s a final descent to a cinder track that leads back to the car park and the completion of an altogether delightful walk.  I can’t imagine why we’ve only done it once before, as it has much to recommend it.

We completed 11.13 miles on the walk, nearly two miles more than that demanded by the Menorca equivalent; so we find ourselves some seven miles ahead of the Cami-360 game.  We have now completed over 102 miles and there are two walks to go.  We both completed the walk today without any of the aches and pains of yesterday; we used different footwear, which might have some bearing on it; and it’s more strenuous than the Ockham Common walk – perhaps having to go up hill and down dale is easier for my back than a flat walk, or perhaps we’ve just passed The Wall and we’re good for many more miles.  Whatever, we’re looking forward to a walk at the very other end of the Surrey Hills tomorrow and fondly hope that you’ll join us to find out more.

Day 10 – Ock-Cami

Cami-flage Day 10 Sunday 20th September 2020

Today’s walk was a short one – in Menorca we would only have been asked to cover just over 7 miles, and there is a handy equivalent not too far from us covering Ockham (hence the title) and Wisley Commons. It may be short, but it has several interesting and unusual features – read on to find out more.

The weather comparison between Surrey and Menorca is getting quite interesting.

It may be warmer Over There In The Foreign, but today and for the next couple of days we get the sun – and better temperatures for walking around, actually. Schadenfreude’R’us. Here’s hoping the gods of weather don’t take their revenge too swiftly….

Here’s an overview of the walk.

The roundabout in the middle top of the picture is Junction 10 of the M25, where it meets the A3. The walk straddles the A3 but stays south-west of the M25.

We started from the Ockham Bites caff, which advertises itself as selling award-winning Bacon Buttties; so we promised ourselves one for when we returned at the end of the walk.

The walk starts out over Chatley Heath, which is attractive enough,

and was even more so earlier in the year when the heather was actually in flower. We soon reached the first landmark, which is the Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower, a unique remnant from the Napoleonic era, the only surviving semaphore tower in Britain. It was once a cutting-edge building at the forefront of technology and design, a vital link in a signalling chain that transmitted messages from Admiralty House in London to Portsmouth Docks in just a few minutes. But in recent years water ingress has been threatening the structural integrity of the tower to an alarming degree. When we visited recently, it was shrouded in tarpaulins as repair work was carried out; today, whilst it was clear that there was plenty of work going on, at least we could see most of this unusual building.

The path then moves into woodland, amongst which can be found several huge Redwood trees.

(you can just see Jane bottom right, which gives an idea of scale). As the trail moves on, the Teddy Bears’ Picnic line comes to mind: “If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.” Between the trees you can start to make out an unusual object

and, getting closer, you see a mausoleum, which is certainly a surprise finding to anyone covering the route for the first time.

This (according to an engraved plaque) houses the mortal remains of Bernhard Samuelson (1820-1903), his wife and daughter. It’s a striking and unusual thing to find in Surrey woodland.

The woodland trail continues, via a couple of left-and-right shimmies, past a grove of Hornbeam trees

and debouches on to a road. A couple of hundred yards along that you dive off and emerge blinking into a large field (harvested, of course, this being Autumn); in the distance, you can see another mystery object.

As you get nearer, the object turns out to be an air traffic beacon – specifically, a VHF Omni-Range radio navigation aid.

To get to it, you have to cross the airstrip of the now-disused Wisley Airfield on a path between barriers. It’s a former wartime airfield; originally a grass airstrip, requisitioned in 1942 for WWII, the runway was converted to tarmac in 1952 and used to test aircraft built at Weybridge by Vickers. Flying ceased in 1973. The owners have recently been trying to get permission to build on it – so far unsuccessfully.

In case you’re interested, here’s what this area looks like from the point of view of a pilot using a chart to find a route:

OCK is the beacon, the circle is a compass rose to identify radial direction for navigation purposes. DME signifies Distance Measuring Equipment, so it also enables an aircraft using it to establish its range from the VOR. WISLEY has an X in its circle to show it’s paved but not in use (as you can see from the photo; in fact it gets used a lot – illicitly – by kids on motorbikes and the owners have stacked up piles of earth, tyres and other detritus periodically along it to try to discourage them). You can see Fairoaks on this chart (because you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that that’s Chobham’s local airfield) and the edge of Heathrow’s Air Traffic Control zone, too.

Back to the mainstream of this post…..the path carries on past the beacon and then scurries along the side of fields all the way down the length of the Wisley airstrip, which is about a mile; you can see the airstrip on the Overview image above.

Across the fields, in the distance you can see the building work going on in Woking.

We took a short detour once we’d followed the track and re-emerged at the far end of the Wisley airfield. During this and previous Summers, we’ve had a wonderful crop of blackberries from bushes at this end of the airstrip, so we (meaning Jane) thought it would be interesting to see if there were any still worth picking. The answer was “not really”.

There were berries aplenty, but a one-two punch of heavy rain followed by an extended hot dry spell had ruined almost all of those that had ripened.

The trail leads beside the A3 before going under it to the north side; someone has major designs on it and if that’s the council, maybe improvement work will follow? Otherwise they’re just designs, and very colourful, too.

Once over the A3 and past the very posh Wisley Golf Club, a tiny detour enabled us to go and marvel at Ockham Mill, a wonderful building.

It’s one of a group of lovely buildings clustered around the mill pond, such as this

(I wish they’d cut back all that damn’ greenery so that passers-by can get decent photos of the place; can’t imagine why they don’t do this. Anyway, a gin bottle shot seemed a good idea.)

The path leads beside field’s where the farmer’s have clearly had problem’s in the past with dog’s (and punctuation).

The main crop appeared to be a variety of cabbages. I was very taken with a couple of ideas the farmers had used to keep pigeons off the crop.

In the background one can see the Glasshouses which are at the far end of the RHS Wisley Gardens.

The path actually goes alongside the gardens and one can catch glimpses through into them,

and a bottle shot seemed to be a good idea at this point.

At one place, our path intersected another going between different sections of the RHS gardens. Unsurprisingly, the RHS are not too keen on people using this crossroads just to wander into the Gardens without paying.

(I wonder how long it would have taken for their security people to find a senior citizen in a white hat and blue checked shirt in their 240 acres had I taken this opportunity to sidle in. But I’m far too honest to consider doing that. No, really. Anyway, Jane is an RHS Member…)

After the Gardens, the path goes through more woodland, which looked lovely in the late Summer afternoon light.

It soon becomes clear that, despite the sylvan beauty, one is near to several major roads, not least the M25: the traffic rushes by only a few yards away at one point and the traffic noise can be quite intense.

We then turned for home on the final stretch of today’s route, a broad made-up path that led past Pond Farm, where the Surrey Wildlife have a base and which takes its name from, well, a pond.

There’s a lot less water in it than there was earlier in the year, rather like Deep Pool. You’ll know all about Deep Pool because you read the earlier post, didn’t you? Didn’t you?

Eventually, we reached the steepest climb on the trail, which was the bridge over the A3 to get back to the car.

and we couldn’t resist a final bottle shot for the day.

Back at Ockham Bites, we treated ourselves to a bacon butty, which was OK, but the Award Winning Chef was clearly off duty today. The tea was nice, though, and the whole thing was most welcome because, despite today’s being a short walk, we were both feeling a little the worse for wear. Jane (who personfully carries the daypack we use to transport water and gin bottles, blackberry containers, power banks and other odds and ends) found her shoulders were aching and that there’s a spot of trouble with a tendon in one foot; my back was aching and I felt generally tired. So, in both cases, we felt a lot less fresh than we had at the end of, for example, the longer and more strenuous walk that we did yesterday. Perhaps Day 10 is where Walkers hit the wall? It will be interesting to see how we get on tomorrow, on a longer and more testing walk, which takes us back to the highest point in Surrey, although via a different route than our previous visit.

Today we covered 7.57 miles, a smidge more than the 7.18 of the Menorca equivalent, so we continue to be ahead of the game. We have covered over 90 miles so far and tomorrow will see our mileage hit three figures, so come back then and see how we got on.