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Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships

There are currently 3 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships
Author: Claire, Published: 29 Apr 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide star1 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide star1 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide star1 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide star0 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide
Surrey, Woking
Walk Type: Woodland
Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide boot Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide
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A 4 mile circular walk from Horsell Common near Woking in Surrey. The walk takes in a large section of the common (including the sandpits made famous in H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds) before heading out through the recently formed McLaren Park (alongside McLaren’s Formula One technology centre) and on to reach Fairoaks airport. The walk then returns on the bridleway which runs alongside the many streams which feed the River Bourne.

The route follows a mixture of heath/woodland paths, bridleways and one section along a wide grass verge alongside Chertsey Road – all of which can get fairly muddy after wet weather. The walk is almost entirely flat and there are no stiles, just a couple of gates. There is a cafe (Hanger Cafe) open to the public within Fairoaks Airport complex should you want refreshments. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts from the free Horsell Common car park (with height restriction barrier) on the A245 near the Six Crossroads Roundabout just north of Woking. There are a couple of car parks on this road so make sure you park in the one closest to the Six Crossroads roundabout. Approximate post code GU21 4BY.

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Walk Sections

Start to Hanning Seat
Start to Hanning Seat

Start point: 51.3333 lat, -0.5486 long
End point: 51.3372 lat, -0.548 long

From the car park, stand with your back to the road and take the path directly opposite the vehicle entrance. Follow this path heading directly into the centre of the common and you will pass an information board on the left. Keep ahead on the main path ignoring any smaller paths to the left and right.

Eventually you will come to a bench ahead – pass through the gap in the ridge alongside it to head down a small path into an open sandy clearing. From this clearing take the path heading diagonally right at 2 o’clock. Keep ahead and you will pass the open sand pits and lake to the left.

Sand and gravel have been extracted from the common for many centuries. The author H. G. Wells, who lived in nearby Maybury, used this sandpit as the landing site for alien space craft in his novel ‘War of the Worlds’. Today it is a site of pilgrimage for many science fiction fans that travel from all over the world.

Keep in the same direction and you will reach a bench carved with the name Hanning Seat on the left.

Hanning Seat to McLaren Park
Hanning Seat to McLaren Park

Start point: 51.3372 lat, -0.548 long
End point: 51.3423 lat, -0.5465 long

Continue ahead in the same direction, passing the seat on the left. After just a short distance you’ll come to a T-junction – keep left here. Follow the path bending left and keep ahead past a couple of disused tall wooden barriers. A short distance later you’ll come to a crossroads with more staggered barriers ahead – turn right here.

Originally Horsell Common was part of Windsor Great Park. Like most of the original park, it eventually passed into private ownership and by 1805 that owner was the Earl of Onslow. In 1900 the Earl began seeking a way of transferring the land into public ownership, but it wasn’t until 1966 that the Horsell Common Preservation Society purchased the site at a price of £1 per acre. The Society still owns and manages the site today. The Common extends now to 855 acres and is a rich mosaic of heathland habitats, ranging from open heath and acidic grassland to bog, heathland pools, secondary woodland and scrub. It supports a variety of characteristic heathland plants and animals.

Keep ahead on this straight path and you will pass alongside two vehicle barriers. Turn left immediately after the second barrier and follow the gravel drive with houses to the right. Keep ahead at the end of the houses on the stone track heading back into the common. At the next junction keep ahead passing a house to the left. A few paces later you’ll come to the wooden posts and notice boards marking the entrance to McLaren Park.

McLaren Park to Fairoaks Airport
McLaren Park to Fairoaks Airport

Start point: 51.3423 lat, -0.5465 long
End point: 51.3489 lat, -0.5523 long

Keep ahead on the obvious path through the park. You’ll pass by some picnic benches on the left and a few paces later on the right you’ll get your first view of the McLaren Technology Centre.

The McLaren Technology Centre, opened in 2003, is the headquarters of the McLaren Group. It is a semi-circular glass-walled building, designed by the architect Norman Foster. With about 1,000 people based here, it is home to the McLaren Racing Formula One constructor as well as other companies of the McLaren Group. The building is accompanied by a series of artificial lakes – one formal lake that completes the circle of the building, and a further four ecology lakes. The water from the lakes is pumped through a series of heat exchangers to cool the building and to dissipate the heat produced by the testing wind tunnels. Employee facilities include a restaurant, a juice and coffee bar, a swimming pool and a fitness centre. The building also houses an underground visitor and learning centre.

Follow the path meandering ahead with the centre across to the right. Follow the path as it now swings right following the curve of the formal lake. As you draw level with the main building, fork left and cross a footbridge over the river and through a wooden gate. Follow the woodland footpath and as you emerge out of the trees you will reach the open grass area marking the start of Fairoaks Airport.

Fairoaks Airport to Bridleway
Fairoaks Airport to Bridleway

Start point: 51.3489 lat, -0.5523 long
End point: 51.3507 lat, -0.5644 long

Keep straight ahead on the path passing the triangular aircraft warning sign and the windsock.

Fairoaks Airport was opened in 1931 as a private airstrip. It was signed up for military use in 1936 becoming RAF Fairoaks during World War II, with 6,000 pilots trained here mostly in Tiger Moths. The airfield was auctioned off in 1967 and today is used as a maintenance airfield and also hosts many light aircraft.

Enter the next section of woodland ahead. Follow this path, which becomes a track, all the way to the T-junction with the road. Turn left onto the grass verge alongside Chertsey Road. Cross over the main entrance road for the airport and continue on the grass verge. When you reach the chevron sign, turn left through the West Entrance gate marked as a public bridleway.

Bridleway to Common
Bridleway to Common

Start point: 51.3507 lat, -0.5644 long
End point: 51.3408 lat, -0.5618 long

Follow the tarmac entrance road and as this bends left, keep ahead onto the bridleway with the fenced horse paddocks on the right. On the left you’ll pass the parking area for the light aircraft and soon afterwards you will pass the end of the runway also on the left.

Cross the footbridge and go through the gate. Keep ahead on the bridleway following the left edge of the field meandering through gorse bushes. At the far side of the field, pass through the gate and cross over the larger wooden footbridge. (You’ll notice concrete steps at each end of the bridge – carefully placed to help horse riders mount/dismount to use the bridge).

Follow the stone bridleway and at the end of the long straight section bear left over a small stream with a private property ahead. This marks the re-entry point for Horsell Common.

Common to End
Common to End

Start point: 51.3408 lat, -0.5618 long
End point: 51.3345 lat, -0.5492 long

30 yards before the house, bear right onto the bridleway marked with a blue arrow. Follow this path along the edge of the common close to the fence boundary on the right. You’ll come to a major crossroads with vehicle tracks with a sign for Norwood Farm on the right – turn left here and then immediately right onto a narrow mud footpath heading into the centre of the common.

Keep following this main path ignoring minor paths to the left and right. When you come to a section with a small pond and gorse bushes ahead, swing right then left to continue on the main path. Eventually you will emerge to a T-junction with a wide straight forest track – turn left onto the track.

Soon you’ll pass by a small lake on the right. Take the first path on the right after it and, after just a few paces, fork left on the narrow path through the trees heading over the brow of a small hill. Follow this path with a steep bank down to the left, and at the next junction take the path at about 11 o’clock going over the brow of a small hill. Keep left at the fork and you will reach a bench on the left (the one you passed on your outward leg).

Turn right to retrace your steps, straight along the main path, back to the car park.

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network Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide Original GPX source file

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


3 comments for "Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships"

Very pleasant flat walk on generally excellent paths. Mid walk refreshments if needed - Fairoaks has a pleasant cafe open to the public with a patio overlooking the parked aircraft!

By SteveT on 02 Oct 2014

A pleasant enough stroll but not easy to follow instructions while walking and we didn't actually get out of the woods. An audio version would be great.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Remember to use the GPS live map to help guide you within woodlands and other areas where navigation is more tricky. Unfortunately we don't have the funds at present to introduce audio versions of our guides.

By Jessiealice on 12 Apr 2016

Nice flat walk a bit wet in parts. There is an "Unauthorised Access Prohibited" sign located at the exit from the woods just before the triangular aircraft sign. This can be ignored as long as you stick to the path and don't stray to the left. Picture of sign added to the Gallery.

By Mrdood on 31 Jan 2017

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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2 gallery images for "Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships"

2075_0SteveT1412263754 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide Image by: SteveT
Uploaded: 02 Oct 2014
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2075_0SteveT1412263776 Horsell Common: Planes, Racing Cars and Spaceships Walking Guide Image by: SteveT
Uploaded: 02 Oct 2014
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