Abinger Roughs winter walk
Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist who walked on the Roughs in the 1870s. Our trail, at the foot of the North Downs, is easy to follow and perfect for families new to exploring the countryside. Pick up our guided trail leaflet too (from the car park notice board) and discover more about the Roughs.
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.
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.
You’re now standing near a well which provided water for horses and cattle many years ago. The water rises from an underground spring. Today the water table is low and the area is fenced off to stop animals falling into it. Continue along the path.
You've reached the open glade. To your left, over the greensand ridge, rises the Hurtwood (an area of heath and forest). Stop and enjoy a picnic or walk on.
The open glade
The open glade is a lovely spot for a picnic and you never know what curious creatures might come to say hello. In the summer, butterflies enjoy basking in the sunshine and rabbits nibble at the grass. During the autumn there’s a wonderful display of spindle berries by the bench.
Here 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. Sit for a while on sunset seat and venture on.
View from sunset seat
Enjoy the view west from sunset seat. The farm nearby is Hackhurst Farm and you can look up onto Hackhurst Down and Kingswood.
Continue on and follow the waymarked posts and along the ‘Mayor’s path’. See the rhododendrons which were 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.
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 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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