Hydon's Ball to Winkworth Arboretum circuit
Enjoy this lovely tranquil walk along old paths through woods and fields with views over the south Surrey hills. You can stop off at Winkworth Arboretum to strolls through the glades, wander around the lake and enjoy the cafe before continuing back to Hydon's Ball through woods with stunning views.
NT car park, Salt Lane, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4BB.
Start in the car park at Hydon’s Ball and Heath and take the track that is at the back of the information board which leads to the road. Cross over the road, take the track turning down the hard core path - this is a footpath. You’ll be walking through tall conifers and birches. At the point where the path bends round to the left, bear right leaving the track and taking the straight bridlepath on your right up through the trees along Juniper Valley. The path bends to the right and then left and you descend to reach a secret valley in the wood.
Juniper trees are native to Britain and have been long valued for their fragrant purpley-blue berries and golden wood. Birds such as mistle thrush, song thrush, fieldfare love the fruit, while goldcrest and firecrest birds nest in the branches.
Cross the valley and follow the sandy path up the hill. This is a holloway with steep banks and hazel trees on either side, which open out to fields as you approach South Munstead Farm. At the farm you come out onto a track. Go straight ahead and in about 30 yards you'll come to a T junction by some houses. Turn right, follow the short road to meet the main road opposite Winkworth Arboretum.
Sunken roads or holloways
Holloways are roads where erosion over time has worn away the path so it is much deeper than the sides. The erosion may have been caused by rain and water, people walking, animals being herded or ridden along the path over centuries. Often they mark ancient boundaries between estates or properties.
If you wish to explore Winkworth Arboretum then follow the paths through the car park to the visitor centre. Alternatively continue along a public footpath from the car park south beside a panelled fence, along the edge of the arboretum. There are views to your left through the trees to the landscape beyond. The path ends at a T junction with the road. Cross the road to the right and walk to the bend. Here turn left and take the bridle path immediately to your left along a straight tarmac track.
The arboretum was created in the early 20th century by its owner Dr Wilfrid Fox. There are over 1000 different species of trees and shrubs, many of them rare. There are a number of paths to follow to explore the property with a stunning display of colour in every season.
Follow the road all the way along, ignoring a bridle path to your left. The houses give way to countryside and you will get some lovely views to your right. At the house Deer’s Leap the tarmac becomes an earthy footpath which descends to a road. Cross over the lane and follow the bridle way up to your left alongside fields to your right and woodland to your left. From here you can see the towering conifers planted on the top of Hydon’s Ball to your right. The path will go into managed woodland. Ignore tracks until you reach a broad track with footpath markers and open gates indicating the Greensand Way. Take a minute to admire the views to the North Downs. Turn right
Hydon's Ball and Heath
This property was acquired soon after Octavia Hill's death in 1912, as a memorial to her. The seat at the top was installed in 1915. It is one of the highest points in Surrey, with the ball in the title possibly referring to a signalling station which once stood at the top of the hill. (Similar to the ball at Greenwich Observatory.) You can see how the tall conifers make a mark on the skyline.
At a clearing the path bears towards the left and becomes a narrow gully, with firm rock underfoot. Continue through the woodland until you come out at a road. Turn left along the road and then right at the finger post to continue the Greensand Way. The path follows the edge of the hill bending round to the right and ascending. Listen out for the birds - buzzard, woodpeckers, blackbirds, song thrush. At the top you come out near a path and you can again see the conifer tops of Hydon’s Ball across the fields. Continue along the narrow sandy path following the ridge and then dropping down to a sunken road. Turn right and walk for 30 yards to a clearing where paths cross.
The Greensand Way
This long distance walking route starts in Haslemere and ends 108 miles later, at Hamstreet in Kent near the coast south of Ashford. The path provides unparalleled views across the Weald to the south as well as to the North Downs. The trail takes you past the iconic Leith Hill Tower, the highest point in the southeast of England. There is a distinctive Greensand Way marker sign in Surrey, which is a drawing of Leith Hill Tower.
Cross the Greensand Way to follow a sandy bridleway through hazel trees. There are lovely views over the farm fields to you left and you gradually descend down to a wood. Go past the Thames Water pumping station and come to a crossroads of paths. You have reached Hydon’s Ball and Heath. Go straight ahead and up the small hill through the woods and you will come to the Robertson memorial on your left. From here turn sharp right and follow the small up the steep hill bending to your left, coming out at the top.
Part of Hydon's Ball and Heath was given to us in 1959 by the W A Robertson Memorial Fund. William Alexander Robertson lost his two younger brothers in the First World War and when he died in 1937 he left a bequest for us to commemorate them. In accordance with his wishes this memorial was erected.
Stop here awhile to enjoy the views and maybe have a snack and a drink. When you’re ready take the path behind the seat to the left and go straight down the slopes though the woodland. You will come to the T-junction with a broad bridlepath. Turn left and walk back to the car park.
NT car park, Salt Lane, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4BB.
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