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Headley Heath and Cherkley Wood

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Headley Heath and Cherkley Wood
Author: Claire, Published: 25 Apr 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Surrey, Leatherhead
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Headley Heath and Cherkley Wood
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 4.5 mile circular walk through Headley Heath in Surrey. The heath forms part of the North Downs and the route gives a wonderful mixture of heath, chalk downland and woodland with great views over the Surrey Hills.

The woodland/heath paths can get very muddy so waterproof boots are recommended unless you’re walking after a long period of dry weather. There are several steep climbs and descents on route but in terms of obstacles there are just a few gates and no stiles. Most of the paths are bridleways so you’re likely to be sharing them with horse riders and the heath is also a very popular dog walking area. Cattle are used to graze the heath at certain times. There are no toilet or cafe facilities but a mobile catering van is sometimes open within the car park. Approximate time 2 hours.

Headley Heath sits just south of the village of Headley, a few miles east of the A24 as it runs between Leatherhead and Dorking. The walk starts from the Headley Heath National Trust car park which can be found directly opposite the cricket pitch on Headley Common Road (B2033). The fee to park is £4 per car per day (correct June 2016) and free for National Trust members. Approximate post code KT18 6NN.

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Walk Sections

Start to Major Crossroads
Start to Major Crossroads

Start point: 51.2709 lat, -0.2739 long
End point: 51.2626 lat, -0.276 long

Stand in the car park facing the road. Walk to the front right-hand corner and take the bridleway to the right which runs almost parallel to the road on your left and passes a National Trust Headley Heath emblem sign.

Pass through the gate ahead and keep straight ahead on the public bridleway marked with blue arrows. Ignore any small paths off to the left and right and after a little distance you will pass by two small ponds on the right in quick succession. Continue until you reach a major crossroads in the path with blue bridleway marker posts on each exit.

Major Crossroads to Steps Junction
Major Crossroads to Steps Junction

Start point: 51.2626 lat, -0.276 long
End point: 51.2678 lat, -0.2888 long

Turn right here onto the crossing bridleway. A few yards in at the next junction of paths, follow the main bridleway as it swings slightly left heading gradually downhill. Follow the path as it swings right and just a few paces later turn right onto another bridleway heading steadily uphill.

Go straight over the next crossroads and the path soon levels off. Follow the stony bridleway for some distance steadily descending into the valley.

The name Headley means ‘clearing with heather’, so it isn’t surprising that all three villages in the south east called Headley are in acid heath areas which provides the perfect conditions for heather to grow. Headley Heath is a mix of open heath, chalk downland slopes and mixed woodland and creates the perfect habitat for many rare species including woodlarks, butterflies and orchids.

You will emerge to a junction of five paths, two of which head up steep flights of steps.

Steps Junction to Cockshot Cottage
Steps Junction to Cockshot Cottage

Start point: 51.2678 lat, -0.2888 long
End point: 51.2689 lat, -0.2968 long

Turn left here on the main bridleway, ignoring the paths with steps. Follow the path alongside a fenced grass area on the right – as soon as this ends turn right onto a bridleway marked with a blue arrow climbing steeply uphill, with a fence to the right.

At the top pass through the gate with a house ahead and turn immediately right on the bridleway with the fence continuing on the right. Follow this path swinging left and downhill with a tall brick wall to the left. Continue fairly steeply downhill and you will pass an archery field to the left. The path finally emerges to a T-junction with the road alongside Cockshot Cottage.

Cockshot Cottage to Mill Way
Cockshot Cottage to Mill Way

Start point: 51.2689 lat, -0.2968 long
End point: 51.2778 lat, -0.2903 long

Cross over the road and take the steep public bridleway directly opposite. Take care on this steep slope uphill here as it can be quite slippery. Eventually this path emerges to a T-junction with a wide level bridleway – turn right here.

Across to the right over the fence you will have beautiful views across the valley. The track emerges to a small parking area alongside Mill Way.

Mill Way to Crabtree Lane
Mill Way to Crabtree Lane

Start point: 51.2778 lat, -0.2903 long
End point: 51.2752 lat, -0.28 long

Turn right along the bridleway which runs parallel with Mill Way on the left. As the path swings right the views over to the right once again open up with horses grazing the slopes of the valley. A few paces later you are forced to cross Mill Way (do so with care) and then continue on the public byway directly opposite.

Ignore the footpath over a stile to the right, instead keep ahead on the main public byway. At the bottom you will emerge to a T-junction with a rough tarmac lane. Turn right and follow this downhill. Continue past cottages on the left and Slough Farm on the right. The lane begins to climb passing Dove Cottage on the left. Ignore the left turn into Tothill Lane, instead keep ahead on the main lane. At the bottom of the lane (Tumber Street) cross over the main road with care to reach Crabtree Lane opposite.

Crabtree Lane to End
Crabtree Lane to End

Start point: 51.2752 lat, -0.28 long
End point: 51.2708 lat, -0.2752 long

Ignore the footpath to the left alongside the Dutch barn, instead stay straight ahead on the main stone bridleway. As you reach the gates to Broom House Cottage ahead, bear right onto the signed Horse Track. Pass through the gate on the bridleway marked with a blue arrow.

Keep ahead for 150 yards until you reach a staggered T-junction with another major path. Keep left here onto the wide sand and stone bridleway also marked with a blue arrow. The path runs parallel to a wire fence over to the left with private properties beyond. After the properties end, look out for the second gate on the left through which you’ll see the car park. Turn left through this gate and it is just 200 yards across the grass to reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "Headley Heath and Cherkley Wood"

A very enjoyable walk. Two steep uphill sections but they were both brief, overall I think the stated difficulty rating is perhaps a little too high.

By andrewnorfol on 19 Apr 2015

A nice walk with two steep uphill sections, Can be quite muddy at points but you can mostly avoid the bad bits by walking near the edge. The car park fee is £4 per day. We think this walk is a 2.5 star in hardness. If you're interested in a walk myself and Kate enjoy, Google for Newlands Corner in Guildford. There's an on-site cafe and FREE parking.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thanks for the giving the details about the latest parking fee, we have updated that in the guide. We've also adjusted the difficulty to 3 boots. Just a note of warning...Newlands Corner is also introducing a parking fee later this summer. If you are looking for free parking for a walk in this area, try the iFootpath walk which starts in Silent Pool (taking in Newlands Corner and St Martha's Hill).

By MikeKate on 04 Jun 2016

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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