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The Hurtwood and Holmbury Hill

There are currently 1 comments and 1 photos online for this walk.

The Hurtwood and Holmbury Hill
Author: Claire, Published: 31 Dec 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, Surrey Hills
Walk Type: Woodland
The Hurtwood and Holmbury Hill
Length: 4 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 mile circular walk around The Hurtwood, a unique and beautiful world of heath and forest in the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Hurtwood is a stunning mix of magical pine woods and heaths, ponds and glades, wildlife and wilderness. The walking route climbs to the summit of Holmbury Hill offering stunning views over the Weald to the South Downs, before passing through the pretty village of Holmbury St Mary and returning through the woodland.

The route follows forest tracks which can be muddy after periods of wet weather. There are several climbs and descents throughout and some of the paths are narrow and uneven with tree roots. There are no stiles or gates on route, just a few staggered barriers. Dogs are welcome in the Hurtwood. You are likely to be sharing some of the paths with horse riders and mountain bikers. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from Car Park 1 (managed by Friends of the Hurtwood), the Holmbury Hill Car Park, which is close to the village of Peaslake in Surrey. From the centre of Peaslake take Radnor Road (heading south east). Ignore the car park on the right (Number 11) instead continue for about one mile until you reach Car Park 1 on the left-hand side. The car park is accessed up a fairly steep sandy slope, just before a sharp left-hand bend in the road. Nearest post code RH5 6NU.

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Walk Sections

Start to Holmbury Hill
Start to Holmbury Hill

Start point: 51.1771 lat, -0.4295 long
End point: 51.1751 lat, -0.4222 long

Start by standing in the car park facing the wooden vehicle barrier (with the large notice board just to your left). Walk ahead (past the vehicle barrier) and immediately turn right onto the stone path (marked as a wheelchair access path). Follow this steadily downhill through the trees for a short distance and at the bottom you will come to a pond ahead. Stay with the stone accessible path as it bears right, leading you up to a circular view point.

The seating here, called Converse, was specially designed and made by Matthew Burt as part of the Inspiring Views project. Converse (pictured in the Gallery) is made from sweet chestnut which readily grows in the Hurtwood. The arrangement allows for social conversation including wheelchair users as well as facing out to the inspiring view. A poet and sound artist responded to this same view and you can listen to the sound artist's creation by tapping the Listen button below (App only). Visit to find out more about the art project, the location of the other benches, the iFootpath walks that will lead you to them and listen to all the poetry and sound.

When you have finished at the viewpoint, retrace your steps back to the pond (now on your right) but do NOT turn left towards the car park. Instead keep ahead for a few metres to the T-junction with a broad sandy track. Turn right along this, steadily uphill, passing the pond on your right. Beyond the pond you will come to a staggered crossroads of wide paths. Turn right here and follow this path steadily uphill.

Ignore the first path off to the right and the track now climbs more steeply. The path levels off and then climbs over the brow of another small hill to reach a junction of paths in a small clearing with a metal bench (which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the youth hostel in Holmbury St Mary). Take the path ahead/right at about 1 o'clock, and this will lead you round and up to the summit of Holmbury Hill. Here you’ll find a couple of information boards, a donation box and a circular bench.

Holmbury Hill to St Mary's Church
Holmbury Hill to St Mary's Church

Start point: 51.1751 lat, -0.4222 long
End point: 51.1883 lat, -0.4135 long

Take some time to appreciate the views from this point, which are best enjoyed from the information board which gives a guide to the visible points. The views from Holmbury Hill, which is 261 metres high, are amongst the finest in Surrey and the area was once known as Little Switzerland. On a clear day you will be able to see the sea at Shoreham and turn around to see the high rise buildings of London.

If you look around you, you can see part of the outline of an Iron Age hill fort. It was probably built in about 150BC and used until the Roman conquest. The fort covers about 8 acres and was, in all likelihood, used as a refuge in times of danger and perhaps as an enclosure for livestock or a meeting place for the exchange of goods. Down through the centuries the fort area has been used as a beacon station for warning and celebration.

With your back to the stone built viewing information board, walk ahead and then bear right down the grass and sand path marked with a black and yellow arrow as a permissive path. Follow the path through the staggered barrier and steadily swinging left, then winding along the edge of the ancient hill fort. At the far edge of the fort, keep ahead on the permissive path which forms part of the Greensand Way. Follow the obvious path winding through the woodland and a little further along you’ll pass through another staggered barrier.

Soon afterwards follow the main path as it bends left with another path joining in from the right. You will emerge to a major crossroads of paths. Turn right here, still signed with the black and yellow arrow for the Greensand Way. Continue on the main path and this will lead you past the Holmbury St Mary cricket ground across to the left. A little way beyond this, keep left at the fork, leaving the Greensand Way.

Follow the path which leads you across the length of the village football pitch and then back into woodland. Keep ahead on the path as it descends steeply through the woodland and at the bottom, as you emerge from the woodland, swing left and then right to join the tarmac drive. You will pass St Mary’s Church to the right.

St Mary's Church to Pair of Ponds
St Mary's Church to Pair of Ponds

Start point: 51.1883 lat, -0.4135 long
End point: 51.1932 lat, -0.425 long

St Mary’s Church, within Holmbury St Mary, dates from 1879. If you are lucky enough to be in the village on the quarter hour, you will have chance to hear the bells peel from within the tower. The village of Holmbury St Mary is thought to have been the basis for the fictional village of Summer Street from EM Forster’s novel, A Room with a View.

At the bottom of the tarmac slope, turn left passing the village green and village sign to the right. At the green corner you’ll come to the Royal Oak on the left, a great place to stop for refreshments should you wish.

To continue, turn right along the far edge of the green. Beyond the green, keep ahead for just a few yards and then, immediately after the phone box, you’ll see a pair of footpaths off to the left. Take the right-hand of these two, passing through a staggered barrier and heading fairly steeply uphill. The path swings right and leads you back into woodland.

Keep left at the fork, climbing away from the properties on the slope down to the right. Towards the top, pass through another staggered barrier and keep ahead on the path still climbing. Stay on the main wide path as it levels off and then heads downhill to reach a major crossroads. Go straight ahead on the footpath opposite, climbing steeply. As the path levels off, keep ahead at the minor crossroads and continue to pass a small car park on the right.

Keep right at the next fork and a few paces later you’ll come to a junction of paths. Take the second path on the right, heading steadily downhill and then swinging left between tall banks. The path then swings right and passes between a pair of ponds.

Pair of Ponds to End
Pair of Ponds to End

Start point: 51.1932 lat, -0.425 long
End point: 51.1773 lat, -0.4294 long

Immediately after the ponds, turn left onto the bridleway marked with a blue arrow. Keep ahead on this wide sandy path for some distance as it climbs steadily, ignoring any paths off to the left and right.

The woodland is part of an area covering some 3,000 acres, known as The Hurtwood, which contains more than 60 miles of footpaths and bridleways and is the largest area of common land in Surrey. The woodlands are privately owned but since 1926 the public have been welcomed to walk and ride through the Hurtwood. This right was granted to them by Reginald Bray, the Lord of the Manor of Shere.

It is generally, but incorrectly, believed that the name Hurtwood derives from the hurts, the wild blueberries that carpet the woods and hills. These berries taste delicious and in the Middle Ages the blue colour was used to dye fabrics. In fact, the name derives from the Old English word churt, meaning a rough common covered with gorse, broom and bracken.

Eventually, at the end of the path you will come to a crossroads. Go straight ahead onto the smaller path opposite and after just a few yards you will emerge to 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.

1 comments for "The Hurtwood and Holmbury Hill"

First half of the walk is very enjoyable with some lovely views. However the final long stretch via the bridleway is pretty dull.

By Tobiasofsurr on 30 Sep 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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1 gallery images for "The Hurtwood and Holmbury Hill"

2725_0clairesharpuk1473080690 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Claire
Uploaded: 05 Sep 2016
Converse by Matthew Burt, part of the Inspiring Views project


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