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The Hurtwood and Pitch Hill

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The Hurtwood and Pitch Hill
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 06 Jan 2014 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 Pitch 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 heads north to reach the picturesque village of Peaslake, before returning through the woodland and climbing to the summit of Pitch Hill offering stunning views over the South Downs.

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 3 (managed by the Friends of the Hurtwood), the Pitch Hill Car Park, which is accessed from Ride Way (the road linking the villages of Shere and Ewhurst). Head south out of Shere, on Hound House Road. The car park is about 3 miles along on the left (soon after the road becomes Ride Way and before you reach the Windmill pub/restaurant), through a pair of metal vehicle gates. Nearest post code GU6 7NN.

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Walk Sections

Start to Car Park 2
Start to Car Park 2

Start point: 51.1732 lat, -0.4569 long
End point: 51.189 lat, -0.4508 long

To begin the walk, walk down the full length of the car park (away from the vehicle entrance) and then keep in the same direction on the bridleway passing by some short wooden posts. Follow this obvious path for some distance, heading steadily downhill.

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. Although the Hurtwood is owned by a few private landowners, the care of the Hurtwood’s trails and car parks is the responsibility of the Friends of the Hurtwood, a small charity with the aim of maintaining the natural beauty and improving public access so that everyone can enjoy the much loved landscape. Public donations are used to support the ranger and equipment to carry out clearance work, trail remediation and vital clean-up work. As well as donations, volunteer work days are also a vital part of the community support, allowing people to play an active part in maintaining the Hurtwood while making new friends.

When you reach a staggered crossroads, keep left, continuing on the fairly level bridleway. Further along, at the major fork, keep left again. Soon afterwards, keep ahead through the crossroads where a smaller footpath crosses the bridleway. Continue on this main path for some distance, steadily downhill, and eventually you will emerge out into another car park managed by the Friends of the Hurtwood, Car Park 2.

Car Park 2 to Peaslake Village
Car Park 2 to Peaslake Village

Start point: 51.189 lat, -0.4508 long
End point: 51.1918 lat, -0.4467 long

Keep ahead through the length of the car park, towards the vehicle entrance. On the right you’ll pass a donation cairn, should you wish to make a contribution towards the management of the woodland. Pass through the open gateway and keep right at the fork on the short access track heading for the road.

Keep right along the road edge for just a few paces and then, immediately before the 30mph speed restriction sign, fork right onto the narrow mud path heading into the woodland. Follow this path as it runs parallel with the road to the left. After a little distance the path climbs more steeply and you’ll emerge to a T-junction with a tarmac track, with St Mark’s Church in Peaslake to your left.

It is worth making a short detour here to visit the village of Peaslake. To do this, turn left following the tarmac slope downhill. You will pass the church entrance and the Parish Office on the left and then emerge to a T-junction with the village road, with Jasmine Cottage opposite. Turn right along the road passing the village pub on the left and you will come to the village centre with the war memorial and village stores. The village is a haven for cyclists, and this area is often crowded with mountain bikers using the village stores after long rides within the local hills.

Peaslake Village to Magalee
Peaslake Village to Magalee

Start point: 51.1918 lat, -0.4467 long
End point: 51.1721 lat, -0.4484 long

To continue the walk, retrace your steps back along the village road, passing the pub, and turn left opposite Jasmine Cottage. Follow the tarmac track back up past the church. Ignore the paths off left and right, simply stay on the tarmac track winding uphill. Just before you reach the lych gate for the cemetery ahead, fork left onto the public bridleway. Follow this passing the wooden vehicle barrier and keep ahead, with the fenced cemetery to the right.

Continue on this bridleway climbing steadily, the elevation now affording you great views across the valleys and woodland slopes each side. Keep ahead as a path joins in from the right and little distance further along, keep left at the major fork.

Follow this main bridleway for some distance further, with the fenced Gasson Copse now across to the left. Ignore the first track turning off to the right and soon afterwards you’ll pass a path which merges in from the left. At this point, down to the left (but hidden by the trees) is the Duke of Kent School. Keep ahead on the main bridleway, ignoring the smaller paths off right then left. You will emerge past a wooden vehicle barrier where you will see the gated entrance to the large property, Magalee, on the right.

Magalee to End
Magalee to End

Start point: 51.1721 lat, -0.4484 long
End point: 51.1733 lat, -0.4571 long

Keep ahead on the (now tarmac) lane for just 100 yards, where the hedge on the right ends. Fork right here, onto the public bridleway marked with a blue arrow (part of the Greensand Way). Follow this narrow path climbing and winding through the woodland. You will emerge to a staggered T-junction with a wider track. Keep left and follow the path for just a few yards where you’ll come to a bench on the left, an excellent point to stop and enjoy the views to the south.

Keep ahead beyond the bench to merge with another path and, a few paces later, keep left at the fork marked as a Footpath Only. The path climbs steadily and towards the top you’ll pass through a staggered barrier. Keep left at the fork and then go straight ahead at the minor crossroads to reach a bench and the stone built viewpoint on Pitch Hill.

Take some time to enjoy the views from Pitch Hill, which stands at 257m high. The views are amongst the finest in the Surrey Hills and the area was once known as Little Switzerland. On a clear day you can see more than 25 miles over the Weald of Surrey and Sussex to the English Channel. The woodland is home to a variety of mammals including roe deer, foxes, badgers, squirrels and rabbits. Pitch Hill is also known as Coneyhurst Hill, probably derived from the word coney, which was the name for a rabbit until the 18th Century. Nearby is the important Roman Road that linked Chichester to London. Every Spring, a 100km overnight event, The Surrey Summits, passes this point.

When you are ready to continue, turn round and walk back from the viewpoint past the bench. At the minor crossroads, turn left onto the path marked with a black and yellow arrow for the Greensand Way. Keep ahead through the grass clearing where you’ll find the trig point for the summit of Pitch Hill (plus another donation box).

Keep ahead on the path at the far side of the clearing, which leads you steadily downhill passing between beautiful sections of holly trees. The path winds steeply downhill with a fenced quarry over to the right, and eventually you will emerge to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


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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