This is a walk of extraordinary variety showing you many different aspects of the Surrey countryside between Dorking and Guildford. There are just a few nettles around the stiles but little mud and the route is fine for a dog. The stile count is moderate. It is a bit text heavy but the directions are comprehensive!
1. At the far end of the car park go through an unneeded gate next to a large single-bar gate. Continue on a fine grassy path that gradually descends to join a wider track coming from the right and continue straight ahead. In a short distance, the gravel track begins to rise and passes close to a wooden gate and a field on the right. About 30m further up the track, look out for a post with a blue arrow at a crossing path. Turn right here.
2. You are now on part of the Roughs Nature Trail. In 60m the path forks at another post. Take the left fork, the higher of the two options. The path curves left, goes past a bench and through rhododendrons. Follow the path all the way to a sunken crossing path. Continue straight over on a narrow path. The path widens, passes another post and curves left by a fence. On reaching a wide gravel track, turn right. Follow the track to a gate and continue ahead on a fenced path. The uncut grass in the meadow on the right has encouraged a large number of skylarks to nest. The path takes you through another gate and down to a lane. Turn left arriving shortly past cottages into the village of Abinger Hammer.
3. Cross the busy road and turn right by the antique shop. In a few metres, opposite is one of the gems of Surrey, the house of Old Hatch Farm, with its ancient walls and roof, looking untouched by the last two centuries. Turn left opposite the house on a track that leads over the Tillingbourne river. The track ends at a fork of two sunken bridleways next to a gate. Take the left fork. The path soon goes past the remains of a stile on the right. 60m further, turn left through an unneeded stile. The path runs at first parallel to the bridleway. Then, at a signpost, it turns left across the field. There are fine views left to the North Downs. At the end, the path goes over a rugged stile (now unneeded) and turns right by a fence and then left and down, with a field on the right, to a road.
4. Cross the road carefully over a stile opposite and over a bridge on an ascending fenced path. Oxmoor Copse on the right (not on the route) belongs to the Woodland Trust. Go over another stile and follow a clear path across the field. Your path takes you over a stile and across a narrow field, soon following some overhead wires. On reaching a T junction with a three-way signpost, turn right, effectively straight ahead, passing a two-way signpost. At the next three-way signpost, do not go through the wide gap ahead but turn right on a path with a field on the right, following the wires. The path becomes sunken and darkened by holly trees on either side. Note the stone sculpture in the garden on the right belonging to the house “Sheiling”. The path passes the garden of the pub and leads down to a road. Turn right, arriving immediately at the Volunteer pub.
5. From the pub, continue along the road, ignoring a road on the left, past the charming cottages of Sutton (“south settlement”) Abinger. At a T-junction, turn right. In 50m, turn left on a footpath up some steps. As you proceed, it is worth glancing back at the merry sight of the Volunteer snug in the valley. At the top, turn left on a lane. In 20m, turn right through a barrier on a footpath. At the end of the footpath, go over a stile and turn left on a road heading towards the exclusive settlement of Sutton Place. Just after a side turning, turn right on a footpath alongside a fence. The path runs between houses and gardens and reaches a residential lane where it goes straight ahead and continues later on a grassy path down to a stile. Go down to the bottom of the valley and at the end of a fence, still in the valley, turn left at a crossing path, indicated by a yellow arrow on a post.
6. The path runs along the pleasant valley. At the end, go over a stile or through a gate, cross a tarmac drive and continue straight ahead on a narrow path. There are houses and gardens on the left and deep woods on the right. The path enters woodland proper via a wooden barrier. It soon approaches a sandy track on the right. Avoid the sandy track by continuing on the woodland path ahead. Soon you reach the public car park by Holmbury Youth Hostel.
7. With the car park on your left, keep straight ahead and immediately avoid several smaller crossing paths. After about 200m, at a junction, ignore paths left and right and continue ahead steeply downhill. At the bottom, go over a very wide forestry track and continue up the other side. The path flattens out at the top of the hill in a pinewood. Immediately before the path begins to descend, take a footpath on the left by a wooden barrier leading into distant trees. (This turning may be unmarked. Do not take the footpath straight ahead 40m down the hill.) Follow the winding path downhill. After a short level section along the wooded hillside, the path turns sharp right round a hairpin steeply downhill. (It is easy to miss this turn as there is also a minor path straight on through rhododendrons. Do not go that way.) The path descends to a road. Welcome to Holmbury St Mary! There is a pub, The Royal Oak, a little way along the road to the right but the route is left along the road.
8. Go past cottages, turn right on a signposted bridleway and continue on a stony path with a hedge and pond on its right. Go straight ahead through a wooden gate on a footpath up steps. There are larches left and greenwood right. The path rises quite steeply but soon levels out in a pleasant area of silver birches of Pasture Wood. Soon, ignore a wide path right. Later, the path becomes more sunken and enters deeper woodland. When a meadow ahead comes into view, go over a crossing path and veer left on the far side of some wooden rails. Later the path runs by a fence beside a garden. The path comes down to the road at Abinger Common. Cross the road and go beside a triangular green with the St James’s well visible over on the right. Shortly cross another road and continue straight over to a signposted footpath opposite.
9. In 30m you come to a fork in the path. Take the left fork. In about 300m the path descends and goes under wires at a crossing path. On the other side of the crossing path are two paths leaving at an angle. Take the left-hand path uphill. The path flattens and runs through twisted young oaks and birch, eventually arriving at the Friday Street car park. Turn right through the car park and follow a path with wooden rails running above the road. This path leads down to the road and lakeside at the beauty spot of Friday Street. The Stephan Langton pub will be found a short distance on the right round the lakeside but you will need to retrace your steps to rejoin the walk.
10. Turn left just before the lake along a broad path by Pond Cottage, which usually has jam and relishes for sale. This leads over a ford with a little bridge and past picturesque Yew Tree Cottage with its scarecrow, eventually reaching a crossing path before a large wooden gate. On its left is a beautiful old weir bridge with the Tillingbourne and water meadows on each side. Go through the gate and continue ahead with water meadows of the Tillingbourne on show on your left. After some distance the broad path comes to a signposted fork. Fork right going uphill. The path flattens and eventually descends to cross a water meadow. In spring there are copious bluebells here. It then curves right by a fence to a stile leading into a field. Go ahead, slightly right, aiming to the right of a brown hut and another stile. The track leads out to the main A25 road by the Wotton Hatch.
11. Go straight over the main road and down a lane, ignoring a footpath right, to the church of St John The Evangelist, Wotton. The hamlet of Wotton is very scattered so it is not surprising that the church stands alone, overlooking a broad sweep of the North Downs. Go through the churchyard, ignoring the footpath left. After passing the church on your right, go over a stile in the fence on the left and turn right to rejoin the fenced footpath, now running between fields. After a hazel hedge the path passes through a wood of beeches, larches and scots pines (more bluebells in spring), goes through a gate and across a field, usually of oats. At the other side, at a junction of tracks, turn left on a bridleway.
12. Fork right on the bridleway towards the large ancient barn of Park Farm, with the bright cream coloured farmhouse on your right, and pass between the venerable buildings. The path goes beside a field, round the field corner and reaches a road. Cross the road, slightly left, to a marked bridleway opposite. Follow the bridleway, shortly arriving at the Wilberforce Monument which commemorates the death of Bishop Wilberforce. From the monument, turn left uphill back to the car park.
OS MAPS: OS Explorers 146 Dorking, Box Hill and Reigate.
GRID REFERENCE: TQ103479
STARTING POINT: Abinger Roughs car park, Whitedown Lane, Abinger Hammer RH5 6QS.
This walk is taken from www.fancyfreewalks.com with kind permission. It can also be downloaded from that website with more detailed mapping.