NEXT WALK Thursday 16 December
Thursday 18 November 2021 – Sheepleas
Anyone who knows this beautiful part of Surrey close by West Horsley also understands that it is incredibly easy to get lost on Sheepleas. In the colours of Autumn the number of allegedly helpful finger posts, all saying Public Bridle Way, stand out stark against the woodland background, merely emphasising the variety of route options on offer to the visitor.
Happily we Moleside November walkers were in the safe hands of Brian Manners who’s lived for several years in the Horsleys and has successfully shepherded us through the maze on more than one occasion. Never, we notice, quite following the same route twice.
And our confidence was rewarded with glorious autumnal weather, no stiles and only a few inclines and descents to make us feel proud of our progress Stepping out from Shere Road through Angel Clump we headed eastward and made the Green Dene Car Park within 30 minutes. With new Moleside member Mike Warnock joining us we turned north and reached the series of woodland meadows that lead to the Viewpoint built to mark the turn of the century almost 21 years ago.
It was interesting to see how those two decades have allowed the trees to eliminate much of the view the stone platform was built to offer – but hopefully it’ll remain a landmark and be visited by many more Moleside walking groups in years to come.
Thanks to David Owen for his photos from this visit in 2021, and our last one back in 2017. And to Brian who revealed on our way home that if you rely on the arrow markers discretely placed on short posts in the undergrowth – and remember the colour you’re following – the paths of Sheepleas needn’t remain a beautiful mystery to any of us for any longer.
Thursday 21 October – Reigate Heath
The gallant dozen of us who set out after a night of dramatic rainfall had a memorable experience and certainly got more than we bargained for.
Meeting to the west of Reigate under skies still bearing a mildly threatening look, we were soon in territory new to many of us.
Confidently led by Peter Wall we stuck to his carefully reconnoitred plan and soon found ourselves in the light woodland and open fields promised in his pre walk summary of our route.
But as we reached the River Mole the sun came out and revealed a much wider river than the one we were hoping to cross.
We found the bridge close by Ricebridge Farm under an uncertain depth of water, providing an impenetrable barrier to our progress westward towards Wonham Mill – and were politely warned off using a privately owned field as our way forward. We resorted to advanced technology to plan our future. Having to negotiate more stiles than had originally been promised – not a big problem – we retraced our steps via an inspired but very watery diversion which led us to the intended climax of our adventure – the windmill on the hill overlooking Reigate Heath Golf Club.
We may not have seen all that Peter intended us to but more than enough to confirm his assurance that Reigate Heath is considered the prettiest in the county. And close by is The Skimmington Castle where we all enjoyed out traditional, reviving lunch. Thanks Peter – and to Steve Mustoe who co-ordinates the club’s walking programme.
Thursday 16 September – The Thames & Broadwater
Sunshine may have been in short supply this summer but the Moleside Walking Group struck lucky again today setting off from The Minnow in Weybridge under clear blue skies and a warm sun. Led by Paul Walker ten of us tried to unscramble the collection of watercourses that join the Thames at this point before striking downstream towards Walton.
And very quickly it became clear that the river’s wild life were also taking full advantage of the wonderful sunshine. By the cafe at Cowey Sale we were greeted by a large number of swans, geese and ducks obviously disappointed that we had little to offer them by way of treats.
Leaving the main river here we turned south heading for Broadwater and its desirable waterside residences Here we were delighted to come across a family of ducks perfectly happy to share the sunshine with us – and with a very patient heron.
Thursday 19 August – Langley Vale Wood
Our walk leader for August more than lived up to his reputation for always including a special surprise somewhere along the routes to which he introduces us. 16 of us met at The Cock at Headley to be navigated by David Owen to The Woodland Trust’s memorial established in 2019 to mark the centenary of the end to the First World War. It will be several years before The Langley Vale Wood on the edge of Epsom Downs will be seen in all its forest glory but already the results of the initial work coordinated by the Trust and delivered with the support of charities, local authorities and volunteers makes clear the scope of what is already a moving and impressive project.
Established on land that was once the Tadworth Training Camp from which young men and women a century ago prepared to join the war across The Channel, David took us first to the Jutland Wood where more than 6,000 saplings commemorate the members of the Royal Navy and their 14 warships that were lost in the battle that helped to turn the fortunes of the war.
In years to come the elegant wooden plinths here, each one dedicated to a warship destroyed in the conflict, may be dwarfed somewhat by the trees as they grow around them – but for now they stand out, clear reminders of the price that so many of our countrymen paid to safeguard our future.
Around the corner we discovered the Regiment of Trees. Elegant ranks of sandstone soldiers standing amongst what will soon be a mass of native British trees providing shelter when the sun shines on them as it did, much to our pleasant surprise, on us thanks to one of our very few truly glorious days in August 2021.
And standing proud there we found a commemorative sculpture in oak. Called Witness it is an amazing piece of art and a real landmark which includes carved texts, extracts from the work of the poets who recorded their recognition of those who fought and triumphed in The Great War.
Our lunch together at The Cock meant we had to leave much more to be investigated here on another day but we’re all grateful to David for introducing us to this special place in these its earliest days – and to Peter Wall for his fine photos.
Thursday 17 June 2021 – Deepdene, Dorking
In the hands of Paul Tiller, ably assisted by his wife Britt, many of the 15 of us on today’s walk found ourselves not only in part of our locality that was totally new to us but also in the midst of of an estate described in 1718 as “an epitome of paradise, and the Garden of Eden seems well imitated here”.
Even after the passing of 300 years, which included at least one catastrophic family bankruptcy, one can appreciate the efforts of the volunteers of The Friends of Deepdene, Mole Valley Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust, as they help walkers like us to imagine the magnificence of this land that was once the home of Thomas Hope.
The magnificent Dorking residence of this 19th Century version of someone, who today might be described as an influencer, had to be demolished in 1969 but the site of its adjacent Italianate Gardens still provides plenty of clues to the determination of Hope and his family to create a very special place enclosed by the steep sides of the Deepdene valley.
Lush and exotic vegetation alongside ornamental architecture made those of us who saw Cobham’s Painshill in the 1970s remember how it had looked before its extensive and very successful rediscovery. The work here at Deepdene has already achieved much but the possibilities here still wait to be more fully revealed.
From the terraces above the garden we got a very cloudy glimpse of extensive views to the south. It’s claimed on a good day visitors here can see the sea. Those of us with grandchildren made a mental note to return soon – with a picnic – and enjoy checking whether the claim is true.
Thanks Paul & Britt -a real discovery.
Thursday 20 May – The Splendour of the Isabella
Steve Mustoe led a colourful wander around the Richmond Park taking in first of all The Isabella Plantation with its impressive display of Azalea and Rhododendron blossom and a few late bluebells.
THURSDAY 15 April 2021 – Our first walk in 2021. Based in the Denbies area – and operated under the Rule of Six – this proved a successful pilot heralding the restart of Moleside’s much missed monthly walking programme after a 3 month break to comply with new Covid-19 regulations.
Thursday 17 December 2020 – Bushey Park & Hampton Court
Though even in a year free of Covid regulations we don’t have a monthly full club meeting in December, we most certainly do usually have our final walk of the year during the month. So working under strict Rule of 6 & Risk Assessment regulations 18 of us were blessed with one of December 2020’s sunniest days as we took to Bushey Park on the hour of 10. The Royal Park is a space certainly large enough to accommodate the several 100 other walkers and cyclists who also took advantage of the gloriously unseasonal conditions. Your photographer was part of the group of 6 led by Stephen Rouse and we quickly lost the masses as we headed east towards Hampton Wick. Our route is well known and much appreciated by Moleside walkers – not a single incline, absolutely no stiles and water alongside us almost the entire way.
Our group of 6 was not intended to catch up with our first group and we made the halfway mark beside Kingston Bridge in under an hour.
We were at Hampton Court in time to hear the Palace clock striking midday and, sadly with no traditional post walk lunch possible in these challenging times, we were all agreed that we are most certainly missing all the opportunities to get together that our Walking programme offered us before we had to start locking down and social distancing at the end of March. Thanks to Alan Willis who navigated Group 1 today and to Steve Mustoe who led Group 3. It is great to know that Steve is already drawing up our 2021 walking programme. We’re certainly looking forward to it.
Thursday 15 October 2020 – Norbury Park
Rule of 6 & Risk Assessments = totally compliant Walking
Following the revisions to the Covid restrictions which had caused us to cancel our September date Steve Mustoe, ably supported by Peter Wall & David Owen, redesigned the club’s approach to our monthly walks and 18 of us were blessed with sunshine as we explored Norbury Park in October. Subdivided into pre determined groups of 6, each one navigated by one of our group leaders, we maintained 5 minute intervals as we followed a carefully prepared route, risk assessed following the guidance of the Ramblers Association. A very big thank you to Steve for wrestling with all needed for us to be compliant. Two of us took advantage of the highly efficient woodland coffee bar that has popped up by the Norbury Sawmill whilst we all, in turn, took in the amazing view of Canary Wharf and Dockland London and admired the fine houses on the east side of the Mole Valley.
Through the woods, close by Druids Grove, and across the fields we progressed to the Crabtree Lane car park from where we turned north for the more open walk back to our starting point by Bocketts Farm. As we made our return we got the news that the government had now further tightened the Covid regulations which may mean that this could be our last walk for a little while. But we cannot discount the determination of the Moleside Walkers – and our group coordinator – to think yet again about how we might continue walking whilst taking strict note of the responsible behaviour we must all support and demonstrate. It’s very sad that we may not be able to emulate soon the record breaking turnout we enjoyed back in August – but all of us will be watching our emails closely for news from our leader about any plans for November.
Thursday 20 August 2020 – Through the Water Meadows to Downside
A record breaking Walker Turnout
More Molesiders than ever before – or at least as far back as any of the stalwart club regulars could remember – were with us beside the Downside Bridge over the Mole for this memorable walk through the local water meadows. And it was a first test for a digital mapping service which we hope we can develop to create an archive of enjoyable local routes to which we can always return. Peter Wall & Alan Willis did the mapping as we all followed our leader for the day – Paul Walker. With us too for his first Moleside Walk we welcomed Philip Schofield as we followed the carefully identified Right of Way westward
towards Pointers Lane and the corner of Surrey that was sliced through by the M25 in 1986. Apart from the short section of our walk where its route has to follow noisily close by the motorway everyone enjoyed the peace of the fields around Pondtail Farm to the north of the village of Downside. We returned past the tiny Chapel and onto the lane that skirts Cobham Park. And, almost like old times, a dozen of us retired to The Plough, the pub adjacent to where we had started our walk, for a thoroughly enjoyable outdoor lunch under the trees.
Thank you Paul & Andrea.
Thursday 23 July – Not Getting Lost on Sheepleas
Out in force again
The sun shone brightly for the 15 of us who rendezvoused at the Shere Road Car Park on Sheepleas under the guidance of Brian Manners. It was excellent to welcome Ray Blues amongst us for his first Moleside walk in some time. Those of us who know – from personal experience – the chances of becoming pretty lost in this wonderful mix of open space, once coppiced woodland and deeply shady forest always
admire the confidence that Brian transmits here and this walk was one of his very best. As we knew he would he got us safely to the viewpoint which has featured in many previous Moleside visits here. But it was the open spaces that stole the show this July, resplendent in wild flowers of many colours – almost as if the contents of an enormous sack of typical English meadow seeds had been carefully distributed across the many acres.
As Brian had promised there were a few gentle inclines but positively no stiles. Easy walking it may have been and any challenges would have come from the many finger posts we encountered, each one telling us no more than the routes in these directions were all Public Bridleways. Not much of an aid to navigation but we had no need of such assistance and we covered a little over 3 miles together in just 2 hours. The 6 of us in the group who, carefully following recommended procedure, retired to The Queen’s Head in East Clandon for refreshment afterwards, all felt we had earned a drink – and the pub lunch that followed. Hopefully more of us will be able to do the same when we get together again in August.
Wednesday 24 June – Back to Puttenham
The Walking Group in action again – for the first time since February.
Our first walk for 4 months saw 9 of us revisiting Puttenham Common and the Hogs Back. We followed the North Downs Way for part of the route and enjoyed glorious sunshine throughout. We walked this route last winter but this time we had leafy trees, fresh ferns and even an abundance of tiny froglets hopping across our path.
Steve Mustoe led the way and looked a daunting figure carrying a length of 4X2 wood over his shoulder because one of the stiles we had to take was broken.
Regrettably we still can’t retire to a pub afterwards but a few folk had brought a packed lunch to enjoy. Social distancing was observed and a great time was had by all.
Thanks Steve for getting things going again on two legs and thanks too to Peter Wall for his photographs. He’s particularly proud of the one we feature below but wants it to be made clear that he is not checking whether it could be time to leave for home. Rather than having to be behind the camera he managed to feature in his own group shot by successfully activating an impressive gizmo in his Apple watch. An achievement of which he can be very proud.
Wednesday 22 January 2020 – The Woodman, Ashtead
Thursday 19 December 2019 – The Jolly Farmer, Puttenham
No great sunshine but at least no sign of the torrential squalls we had all come prepared for. Led by our group co-ordinator Steve Mustoe, thoughtfully carrying timber in case any stiles needed DIY, we met on the south side of The Hogs Back and set off downhill from what we noted was called the Puttenham Top Car Park. Through mixed woodland we passed 2 attractive lakes (The Tarn & General’s Pond) and then started a steady ascent towards the North Downs Way. Despite a substantial fallen tree doing its best to prevent our progress, we kept to our plan and, after a couple of hours very pleasant walking, made our way into the open fields that led us downhill to the Top Car Park. Great views to the south were enjoyed on our descent before repairing to Puttenham’s Jolly Farmer for an excellent lunch – which several of us intend to repeat on another day.
Thursday 21 November 2019 – Withies Inn, Compton.
With the ground covered in autumn leaves and soon finding ourselves deep in ancient woodland, we were delighted to be accompanied today by Steve’s dog who made sure we were all together.
The walk took us to the north of Loseley House where we had a good view of the house in the ground of the park. Then on again and finally back to the pub where we enjoyed our lunch.
Thursday 24 October 2019 – Half Moon, Ripley
The weather was not kind to us today – after a spell of cloudy but dry conditions earlier in the week our outlook for Thursday promised a generous soaking under leaden skies. But such things do not discourage the Moleside regulars who turned out in impressive numbers. Led by Brian Manners we investigated the stretch of the Wey Navigation between Ockham Mill, past Walsham Gates finally reaching Papercourt Lock. Altogeher we covered about 4 and a half miles taking full advantage of the stile free, flat landscape. Once at Papercourt we made our way back to Ripley passing the local gravel pit that turned into an impressive lake years ago in good time for our lunch engagement at the Half Moon.