It's been a long winter with precious few opportunities for walking and perhaps that is why I haven't felt all that great over the last few weeks - a lack of fresh air! We found a small window of opportunity on what turned out to be not the greatest day for walking. As it has been so wet we again dived across the county boundary for what I thought might provide a drier opportunity. No-one wanted to walk too far so thank goodness there are still a couple of short walks in Pathfinder Guide vol 65 Surrey Walks. We picked number 5 at Westcott as there looked to be some interesting features along the way and at 4 miles it was a pretty modest length.
We parked by Westcott Church as luckily we were a couple of hours later than the church service. Be aware that if you are tempted to park here on a Sunday morning you will have to attend the church service before going on your walk as parking is restricted to the congregation. The village of Westcott just to the west of Dorking looks to be a most agreeable place but for this walk you don't get to see much of the village for the path skirts the edge of it where it meets the adjacent common land. This did make for easy walking initially as there was no mud on this section.
The path along the back of the village soon turned into what can only be described as a back alley for some quite big houses. The fences were so high we couldn't see into the gardens but it was apparent that the early stages of spring were underway for we could see buds and bits and pieces of blossom hanging over the fences. There was also a hint of a view across to the North Downs but it was only glimpses through the fences and hedgerows that we could see.
|Former School House|
At the end of our fence lined path we eventually came out to a mill and a rather delightful looking estate road that looked like something from a fairy tale. We crossed a small mill race and headed along the estate road that was bounded by some carefully trimmed hedges. The mill race provided an opportunity for the girls to play pooh sticks - an opportunity that wasn't missed!
The onward estate screamed money - even the more modest houses had large vehicles parked in the driveways. Eventually we left the road and the mud started. This is the danger of this area. Sandstone is interlocked with clay soils and the different between them is astonishing. Off to our left was a very large fishing lake and a few lonely souls were whiling away the afternoon staring at their rods folornly hoping they might get a bite. If the fish were sensible they would be too cold to engage in this kind of 'sport' on a cold afternoon in February. The fishermen clearly like their privacy though - the path alongside the lake is screened pretty effectively with a six feet high beech hedge for most of its length.
It was on this section of walk though that we actually met other walkers. Other brave souls that were probably as fed up as we were with the lack of opportunity lately. They looked as if they had had trouble with the mud too and when we got into the next field we crossed what I can only describe as a swamp. It was not at all pleasant. We picked our way slowly across the field squelching as we went and when we started gaining some height things were a lot better.
|Greensand Ridge View|
At the corner of the field though where we were to enter another fence lined path things took a turn for the worse again. All around the gate was a bog and it was pretty tough getting through. The path itself was like a skating rink too it was so slippery. However the sight of a group of snuffling pigs made everyone's day and they seemed very interested in us as we went by. Pigs are not exactly the sort of animals you might stroke, especially this lot with their rather brown looks. They were rather cute though in a porky kind of way.
At the top of the hill we came upon a nice track and that marked the end of the muddy section much to our relief. We crossed another road and were very pleased to see our onward route was along a substantial track and not across yet another boggy looking field. The track passed through the hamlet of Logmore Green; another of these tucked away places that Surrey seems to have kept rather hidden from the outside world. I imagine living here would be delightful except if you were someone who liked an evening out. Trying to negotiate these tracks on a dark evening to get back home probably isn't that much fun.
|North Downs View|
Our road eventually ran out as we reached a dovecote. From here we had another hill to climb - this one much steeper than the last one although relatively speaking it was a pretty easy one. As we climbed we looked back and the view was well worth the mudbath we had experienced earlier. In fact I recognised it as the view shown on my edition of the Pathfinder Guide and is the section of Downs immediately east of Dorking including the famous Box Hill. In my opinion it was worth doing this walk for this view alone.
|Deep In Conversation|
At the top of the hill we joined another substantial track skirting Sylvanous Wood. This was a delightful stretch along the edge of beech woodland and again we had some lovely views out along the North Downs, this time in a westerly direction towards Guildford. The track was pretty well rutted and some of the puddles looked like small lakes. Luckily for us there were walking paths above the track and no off roaders came to spoil things for us. It was a slow descent back towards Westcott and we soon left the main track and headed down a much narrower path that I vaguely remembered from when I walked the Greensand Way many moons ago.
At the bottom of the slope we negotiated another lake that fed another watermill. This seems to have been a pretty popular thing around here - probably a relic of the iron industry that once flourished in these parts but is now a long forgotten piece of history. We joined another road for a short distance until we reached a splendid looking house that looked like it had been left to rack and ruin for a very long time. It looked exactly the sort of house anyone would appreciate doing up although the sold board outside looked rather ominous. Let's hope it has some tlc rather than a demolition ball.
From this house we turned away from the main road and headed up through a set of woods back to Westcott church. It wasn't easy though as there are a plethora of paths leading through the woodland, mostly it has to be said a bunch of dog walker paths rather than true footpaths. Luckily we found the right one and found our way into the churchyard and onwards back to the car. We were pretty chilled by now so we didn't hang around in the churchyard for long. I can report though that the view across to the North Downs from here is pretty pleasing.
This was a pleasant walk although to be fair I think we didn't pick the right kind of day. Maybe a summer's evening might make it that extra special? The mud was rather worse than we could have expected and that rather spoiled things for me.