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Weekend Walk: Hascombe and Hydon’s Ball

This is a varied walk with one or two steep ascents. It passes through some of the most delightful woodland. It is fine at any time of the year, but especially in the spring because of the lambs and the bluebells. For larger map, please visit www.fancyfreewalks.org.uk.

1. Take the very wide new sandy path leading from the car park away from the pub across a field. On reaching a hedge, turn right on a path that runs between the hedge and a meadow. Follow it into woodland and, in 20m, fork right to a driveway. Follow the driveway away from a house for 60m and then go left up some wooden steps through a small wooden gate into a meadow. Continue through a gate at the top left corner of the meadow.
2. Turn immediately upwards right, almost doubling back, going over a stile or through a gate and onto a path through hollies and up a bank. In 50m, you meet a wide level grassy path at a bend. Turn sharp left here and follow this path through beautiful woodland with occasional tall pines. In about 200m, ignore a wide (rutted) path left and in 20m ignore a path forking right. Continue through woodland which in spring is carpeted by bluebells. The path leads down to a stony track bordering a field. Turn right on it, crossing a tarmac lane in 100m, onto another wide track and follow it up to a gate.
3. Through the gate, there is a culture shock. You are now in a road leading past expensive dwellings, many fenced off from view. There are fine views left and the good road surface makes the going easy. Ignore all turnings off while the road bends a few times and reaches a long straight stretch with tall pines and leads to a main road.
4. Do not cross the main road but turn sharp left almost looping back. This drive leads to houses (The Old Dairy and High Barn). Just before them, fork right on a darker signposted straight path. You will be staying on this path for 1 km total, avoiding all unmarked branch-offs. Your path curves round a lovely green valley, rises again and finally drops gradually until it reaches the bottom of a valley under majestic tall pines. Your path ends at a junction with a curving wide surfaced track.
5. Turn sharp left on this wide track and, in only 25m, fork left on a narrow path (which may be a little overgrown and difficult to see). Your path goes steeply uphill and runs alongside the boundary of a sheep meadow on your left. It quickly levels out, passes through a young coppice (trees cut down to the roots, now partly harvested), takes you through a new wooden gate, curves right and meets a road via another wooden gate.
6. Cross the road to a footpath into the woods directly ahead. You are now on Hydon Heath, with Mallard Wood on your left. The footpath leads through coppices, with diversions through the trees in case of mud. In about 200m you go through an earth bank and over a crossing path. Your narrow path continues directly over. In less than 100m more, the coppice ends abruptly and your path is joined by a path from the right as it enters thick natural woodland with holly and tall pines. In another 60m, you meet a post bearing the symbol of the Octavia Hill Trail, joining a path from the right. A second post is in 10m and a third post in a further 25m. 10m after this third Octavia Hill post, your path comes to a narrow and rather obscure oblique crossing path. Turn right here through bracken.
7. Follow this narrow winding path for about 100m to a T-junction with another narrow path and turn left on it, immediately coming out to a very wide dirt track. Almost directly opposite is another broad track. Follow it steeply uphill, keeping to the right of a green box, to reach Hydon’s Ball where there is a stone seat and good views across the Weald and west to Black Down.
8. Turn left and go just to the left of a triangulation pillar on a wide sandy path downhill. At the end of the path, elbow left by an Octavia Hill post and continue for another 40m to reach a T-junction with a major track, by a National Trust sign. Turn right on the major track for 40m and turn left at a post on a track leading towards a field. In just 15m, by a wooden seat, turn left again so that you are walking alongside the field on your right. In 120m, you meet a crossing with a sunken path ahead by a post with a blue arrow.
9. Turn right here between fields. (In case this path is waterlogged, it is possible to scramble past through trees and roots on the left. Alternatively, go back and turn left round three sides of the field.) This track goes for some distance and becomes a darker sunken trackway. After 400m or so in total, it emerges at a T-junction with a wide open track. Turn left here. You are now on the Greensand Way. The track curves right and reaches a farm and a house, Little Burgate, at a road.
10. Go over the road, opposite the house, and take a narrow unmapped horse path opposite. This path bends right, at first parallel to the road, then quickly curves away from the road and veers left up a bank. It leads up through a moist wooded valley, obviously well-trodden by riders. Stay at all times on the main path and follow it as it turns sharply left near the top. It emerges into beautiful open woodland where it continues straight ahead on a grassy path. In 50m, at a T-junction with another pleasant grassy path, turn right.
11. You are now in the Hurtwood and nearing the end of the journey. In 230m, the light wood and sparse saplings give way, at a broad crossing path, to a coppiced area which has been completely felled. Continue straight ahead with the felled area on your right and some dark green spruces on your left. In another 200m, at the next wide crossing path, turn right. In 70m, go over a crossing and, in another 90m, turn left at a major crossing path which is very broad and unmistakable.
12. You are now back on the Greensand Way. The path crosses another broad path where there are blue arrows and a GW symbol. In 180m, avoid a path that forks right, after which your path becomes narrower. The path eventually acquires a new grey and stony surface and leads down to a junction where you can see a steep descent ahead.
13. Keep straight ahead steeply down on a wide cinder path. In 50m, fork right up a bank on a much narrower path, as directed by a GW waymarker, and shortly veer left on a more comfortable level path with forest falling away to the valley on your left.
14. At a fork in the path, a GW sign leads you left very steeply down with wooden railings to a wooden gate in a field corner. Follow a fenced path along the right-hand side of the field, through a wooden gate at a crossing path, back to the White Horse and car park where the walk began.

DISTANCE: 5 miles
MAP: Explorer 145, OL33 and OL34
START: The car park is the sandy area opposite the White Horse pub in Hascombe, Surrey (on the B2130 between Godalming and Cranleigh).

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