Abinger Roughs nature walk
Abinger Roughs has been visited by humans since the Stone Age. Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist who walked on the Roughs in the 1870s. Discover more about the history and wildlife here.
Abinger Roughs car park TQ110480
Start your walk by heading out of the car park through the gap in the fence opposite the notice board. Look out for the green nature trail marker post.
Looking back in history
Stone Age tools have been found in the site when people made use of the flints in the nearby chalk. In medieval times the Roughs were fields which bounded rough pasture on the slopes of the North Downs.
Walk past the natural play area and then follow the path as it bends round to the right and begins to descend. The Scots Pine here is a native British tree which loves the sandy soil here. The bark turns from grey to orange as the tree ages. The oldest trees produces cones with seeds which are distributed by squirrels and birds.
Scots Pine can grow to 36 metres tall and up to 1.5 metres around the trunk. Can you measure the biggest ones with your arms?
Continue to walk down the slope and down to a small copse at a low point reached over a trackway. There is an old well here that was dug to provide water for cattle and horses. We have now fenced it off to prevent accidents. Look around here to spot an unusual grafting of an American ash tree onto an English ash. Follow the left hand path up the hill and then round to the left. You'll go through some holly and then come out into an open glade.
Listen to the birdsong
This is a lovely spot to stop and listen to birdsong. Can you hear the two-note song of the Great Titi (Tea-cher, tea-cher)? You may be able to see a tree creeper climbing up a tree-trunk and a nuthatch coming down. Also look out for song thrushes and goldcrests.
This open glade is a lovely spot for a picnic or a game of Frisbee or football. The grassland here supports lots of insects and butterflies. When you're ready to continue walk to the edge of the glade and a junction of paths. Take the second fork to the left along a glorious undulating path
This is one of the most wooded areas of the Roughs. Some of the oaks are over 300 years old. Ancient trees are particularly important for conservation. The hollow trunks create niche habitats, rich in decaying wood, loose bark and perfect for insects, lichen and fungi. Bats, owls and woodpeckers nest in the holes. Take a moment here to enjoy the views.
Follow the way markers down the slope and back into the woodland. You'll soon come to a large area of rhododendrons. Charles Darwin often used to walk around the Roughs when he was staying with his friend Thomas Farrer at Abinger Hall.
Thomas Farrer planted the rhododendrons here as part of his wild garden in the 19th century. It was his family that decided to turn the Roughs into a garden that was open to the public.
Continue along the path, keeping an eye out on your left for the twisted roots and branches of old beech trees. They were planted as hedging to protect against livestock. As you walk out of the woodland you will see the Wilberforce memorial and also an old barn on your left hand side. This is Leasers Barn which was used as a lambing shed for many years. From here, walk up the hill to return to the car park.
The Wilberforce memorial
This memorial commemorates Samuel Wilberforce, who was the son of William Wilberforce, the anti-slavery campaigner. Samuel Wilberforce was Bishop of Winchester and died here after falling from his horse.
Abinger Roughs car park TQ110480
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