A friend and I set out on this walk a couple of weekends ago. I didn’t really know what to expect, as I haven’t spent much time in Surrey and hadn’t peeked at any pictures either. But it was absolutely beautiful.
I chose the route as I fancied minimal travel faff and not too many miles, as the days were starting to get shorter. This one fit the bill at only an hour from London Waterloo and about 11 miles.
The first mile or so took us from the quiet train station through the town and down a couple of country roads. It was pretty uneventful and I started to wonder when it would start to get a bit prettier. When all of a sudden – it did! We found ourselves walking through Bagmoor Common Nature Reserve which is full of beautiful oaks, Scots pine and heather. It was really quiet, despite being a Saturday, and we had it almost to ourselves.
The next stage of the walk takes you through Thursley National Nature Reserves and oh wow, it’s stunning! The landscape did not look English to my eyes and made us both think of an African plain. You walk with sand underfoot and there are expansive views in all directions.
The trees are tall and absolutely beautiful (I was compelled to hug one) and the habitat in general feels really natural and wild. It reminded me a little of the Colorado Trail, due to what looked liked like (but probably weren’t) Shaking Aspens.
The route then takes you through the tiny village of Thursley and their beautiful church yard. We spent a little time inside the church and enjoyed reading about its hundreds of years of history. I’m always amazed at how long people have been living their lives on our little island.
From Thursley you make your way through a Woodland Trust forest and another completely different set of surroundings. Maeve was reminded of her time in California in one part of the forest and, again, I didn’t really feel like I was in England.
A fairly long and steep path takes you up to Hindshead Common and the Devil’s Punch Bowl. You can follow the rim of the bowl for another mile or two, admiring the beautiful views, or even head down into it.
It really does look like a big punch bowl. The myth around it is that it is a result of a long running feud between the Devil and Thor, God of Thunder. Thor would attack the Devil with thunder and lightning and once, the Devil retaliated by scooping up a handful of earth and throwing it at Thor. The hole that remained is the Devil’s Punch Bowl!
I’d heard of the area before this walk, but didn’t really know what or where it was. I’m so glad that I got to see it. It’s a beautiful part of the world and unsurprisingly is an official ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (AONB).
After the Punch Bowl you pass the National Trust cafe, cross a main road and wander down another little lane before a bonus walk through a beautiful piece of moorland. This part felt very christmassy, with pine trees and red berries all over the place.
Lastly you arrive in Haslemere passing by the stunning St Bartholomew’s Church. We didn’t go inside the church this time, but enjoyed looking at the WW1 centenary installation in the churchyard.
From there it was a short walk to the station. We enjoyed a couple of G&T’s in the pub opposite, before hopping on the train back to London.
About the hike
- Around 11 miles
- Surrey, England
- Route – I downloaded it to my phone on a GPS app.
- Pretty easy – it’s mostly flat aside from some short steep-ish parts in the forest.
- Around five hours walking (excluding stops)
- Food and water – plenty of options throughout (see the ‘route’ link for more detailed info). Not sure what to take? Have a look here.
- Travel to Milford from London Waterloo. Buy a return ticket to Haslemere (it’s on the same line).
Want some more ideas? Check out my slowly expanding list of day hikes from London here.