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Weekend Walk: A couple of National Trust walking trails

Woolbeding Landscapes

This is a gentle walk taking in wildlife, riverside views, and wide open landscapes. Gentle, easygoing underfoot, some stiles and slopes. Well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome. Please note that there may be livestock in some areas.

  1. Face the signboard, take the path to your right; cross a small track and follow beneath the line of pylons. Enjoy the views to your right, overlooking the South Downs. Continue over the brow of the hill and descend 100 metres to a place where paths meet.
  2. From the track junction, go left, then the first right, which heads down the valley – you’re in heathland here, a mixture of bell heather, ling, and dwarf gorse. Continue until you reach where another path crosses the way. There’s a small shady pond to your right.
  3. Keep straight on down the valley towards the house at the bottom. Turn right, and follow the track until you reach the lane.
  4. Look for the waymarker to your right, on the opposite side of the lane, then follow the footpath through the trees out into the open field. Continue along the hedgerow, cross the stile, then turn left and go downhill through the fields, going under the pylons and along the next field; at the bottom, turn right along Stedham Lane.
  5. Within 50 metres, to your left you’ll see a waymarker pointing to a steeply descending path beside ancient beech trees. Head down the path to the bottom, by the river, where you’ll find Stedham ford and old mill. Keep this side of the river Rother, turn left and follow the riverside path. Continue, passing over a small wooden bridge, until you pass through a wooden gate, through the next field. Before the end of the field, turn left at a wooden gate leading up into the woods.
  6. Before the end of the field, turn left at a wooden gate leading up into the woods. After a short climb, turn left and follow the woodland path. Continue past the steps to your left heading back down to the river and take the next right turn to the wooden gate. Cross the lane into the fields.
  7. Go along the path with the hedgerow to your left, turning right when you reach the woods at the end of the field. Continue along the woodland edge. Go left, still by the woodland, and under the pylons. Turn right at the next field, then turn left and go up along the field edge towards Keeper’s Cottage – through the hedge to your right you can glimpse Eastshaw Lane. Follow the footpath around the cottage, continue up the field, and at the gap in the hedge turn right along and up Eastshaw Lane. Go up the lane onto Woolbeding Common.
  8. Continue straight up along the footpath through the birch, bracken, and heather of the common for a kilometre; just before a small car park, take the left turn downhill, then take the first footpath to your right through the heathland. Follow the path up across the open heath and into the woods. Once in the woods, continue till you meet a track; turn left downhill for a little further until a waymarked narrow footpath on your right leading you down through the trees back to your starting point.

DISTANCE: 5.5 miles
OS MAPS: OL33 (Explorer 133)
STARTING POINT: Older Hill National Trust car park, off Linch Lane, accessed from the A272 near Midhurst

Box Hill Riverside Walk

As you walk along the River Mole look out for dragonflies, wagtails and the electric blue of a darting kingfisher. Stop awhile to take in the ageing Second World War concrete structures which stand sentinel along the water’s edge. This is a circular walk with a steep descent and climb. In wet weather it can be very muddy. Cattle graze along part of the route so please keep your dog under close control.

1. You can choose to start your walk at the visitor centre, or at Salomons Memorial Viewpoint. Once at the viewpoint looking out over Surrey and Sussex, walk down the steps and follow the path to the right, following the signs. Look out for the left turn which takes you diagonally down the hill below the viewpoint.
2. Reaching the tarmac road turn right and walk along it. The fields on either side of you are part of Box Hill Farm.
3. Continue along the road, ignoring other turnings until the road runs out. You’ll see a gate to your right hand side – go through this. To your left you’ll see the River Mole which you’ll walk along for the next mile.
4. Here the species-rich slopes of Box Hill to your right are often grazed by belted Galloway cattle for the conservation of our rare flowers and insects. Soon you’ll come across Pixham weir and mill. Until the early 20th century, the River Mole turned several waterwheels here, principally for corn grinding and fulling (a term used to describe cleaning cloth, particularly wool).
5. The path will take you under Pixham viaduct, built in the Victorian era. Shortly you’ll come to an unusual collection of 12 anti-tank cylinders perched at the water’s edge. Built in 1940, they were part of a wider anti-invasion scheme.
6. This stretch of land is floodplain and the creation of a ‘scrape’ in this area will form a wetland habitat for wildlife such as amphibians and waterfowl. Self-seeding reeds, rushes and sedges will provide a valuable nesting and foraging habitat for wading birds. The pathway will now take you away from the banks of the river, climbing into woodland. Just before you start your climb, look through the trees to see a Second World War Type 24 Infantry shell-proof pill box. This would have been defended by infantry with Bren guns and covered the east bank of the River Mole and the lower western slopes of Box Hill.
7. A set of steps will take you uphill through woodland comprising yew, beech and oak.
8. At the top of the steps, turn left. Carry along the path through the woods and take the first right hand turn. Look out for Swiss Cottage, the former home of John Logie Baird and the site of his first experiments in the development of television. A few metres on is the Box Hill visitor centre, the end of your walk.

DISTANCE: 3 miles
OS MAPS: OS Explorer 146
STARTING POINT: Box Hill Visitor Centre or Salomons Memorial Viewpoint, Box Hill, Surrey, KT20 7LB.

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