Abinger Roughs snowdrop walk
Snowdrops are often the first heralds of spring as they valiantly push their way up through the soil. Enjoy this early spring walk around Abinger Roughs taking in the special snowdrop trail, with glorious views over the surrounding countryside.
Abinger Roughs car park TQ110480
From the car park walk through the opening in the fence opposite the notice board – follow the green waymarked posts.
As you pass through the woodland copse you will come into the open space that is the natural plan area. This is a wonderful place for kids to test their agility and skills climbing over poles and tree trunks.
Following the sandy track you’ll see our 200 year old Scots and Corsican pine trees. We manage this area so that the best specimens grow strongest and tallest.
Scotts pine trees
Scots pine can grow up to 36m high and 1.5m round the trunk. Young trees have grey/green bark but as they grow older, the bark turns orange. Very old pine trees are known as ‘Granny pines’. They produce pine cones which hold the tree’s seeds.
As you walk over the rise and down the slope you come to a lower area of deciduous woodland. Take a minute here to listen out for the woodland birds - not only great tits, coal tits and blue tits but also tree creepers and nuthatch as they climb up and down tree trunks. Continue along the path, climbing again up a small slope.
You walk along a straight path parallel to a fence to your left. At the end the path bends round to the right. You pass by holly, yew and birch trees and then you come put into a open glade. To your left, over the greensand ridge, rises the Hurtwood (an area of heath and forest). Stop and enjoy the views.
As you come up the slope take the path signposted 'Snowdrop trail' to the left. The path goes down the slope and bends sharply round to the right. Follow this path through the glade, and if you're lucky, you'll see the snowdrops on either side of the path. Keep parallel to the hedge on your left, until you come to a T-junction by an open gate. Turn right here along the rough track and up the slope to the trees.
Learn about snowdrops
There are about 20 varieties of the snowdrop family. Many are cultivated for gardens but wild snowdrops will grow in moist woodland soil. They are protected so feel free to admire but please don't pick them.
At the top is the most wooded area on the Roughs. You can see three magnificent oak tree pollards. These trees are around 300 years old and have survived from the times when the Roughs were grazed as wood pasture. Stop at the cross roads look back and enjoy the view west. The farm nearby is Hackhurst Farm and you can look up onto Hackhurst Down and Kingswood. From this point take the path down the slope keeping a fence on your left hand side.
Follow the path as it descends the slope and bends round to the right. You pass through deciduous woodland with lots of oak, beech and hazel. Again listen out for the birds - can you hear a woodpecker or spot a buzzard soaring over the treetops? Continue along the ‘Mayor’s path’ and through the rhododendrons planted years ago to form a wilderness garden by Thomas Farrer, who owned the Roughs in the late 19th century.
The Mayor’s path was named in honour of Charles Darwin’s son, Horace. Horace Darwin was Mayor of Cambridge between 1896 and 1897 and he was married to the daughter of Thomas Farrer. Keep an eye out on your left to see the twisted roots and branches of ancient beech trees. This is because they were originally laid as hedges and have grown out of shape over the years.
The path bends round to the right around the Rhododendron plantation and then turns left through some holly and down into the low copse. Follow the path forwards and bearing to your left to follow the path alongside the edge of Abinger Roughs. You’re almost there – don’t forget to look up towards the North Downs and see if you can spot the Second World War pill boxes which were built to defend London. Stop and read the inscription on the Wilberforce Memorial as you reach Lease Barn. Then turn right up the hill and back to the car park.
On 19 July 1873 Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Winchester, tragically fell from his horse whilst journeying across the Roughs. His family erected this granite memorial where he fell near Leasers Barn (the 16th-century farm building near the monument where sheep used to be lambed).
Abinger Roughs car park TQ110480
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