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Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Common

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Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Common
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 08 Sep 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 UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Surrey, Hindhead
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Common
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3 mile circular walk from the Devil’s Punch Bowl in Surrey, taking in Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Common. There are spectacular views into the Punch Bowl and across the Surrey Hills as well as chance to glimpse the resident ponies and discover some chilling history.

The walk has long but steady climbs and descents throughout and the paths can become very muddy in the winter and after periods of rain. There are no stiles along the way, just a number of kissing gates and steps. The common is grazed by wild ponies and Highland Cattle so take care with dogs. There is a cafe and toilets by the car park at the start. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the National Trust car park at the Devil’s Punchbowl, just outside Hindhead. Leave the A3 at the junction just south of the Hindhead Tunnel and follow the brown signs. The car park fee is £4 per day (correct September 2014). Approximate post code GU26 6AB.

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Walk Sections

Start to Gibbet Hill
Start to Gibbet Hill

Start point: 51.1147 lat, -0.7285 long
End point: 51.1155 lat, -0.7158 long

From the car park, follow the obvious stone path through the picnic area, towards the view point over the Devil’s Punch Bowl. On the right you will see a wooden signpost marking a number of walking trails. Turn right here, to join the Hidden Hindhead Trail, marked with a pink and black arrow symbol. You will be following these pink and black waymarks for the entire route.

Follow the stone path winding ahead (ignoring the gate on the left) and the path will lead you across the line of the old A3 road. The A3 road ran through this area for more than 200 years, before the Hindhead Tunnel was opened in 2011.

Just beyond the old A3 crossing, you will come to a crossroads of paths. Keep left here, to join the tarmac cycle path. Take time to enjoy the views down into the Devil’s Punch Bowl on the left. The large natural amphitheatre was formed through the erosion of clay which sits beneath the sandstone. The name derives from a number of local myths and legends. It is said that the Devil used to torment Thor (the God of Thunder) who lived at nearby Thursley and the depression in the earth here is where the Devil scooped out a handful of earth to hurl at Thor. It is thought that the name Punch Bowl comes from the way the mist lies in the bowl and appears to flow over the rim as if it were boiling over.

On the left you will pass the Sailor’s Stone, a memorial stone for an unknown sailor who was brutally murdered here in 1786. Three men were convicted of the crime and were executed on nearby Gibbet Hill...more of that later. The memorial stone features in the Dickens novel, Nicholas Nickleby, when Smike and Nicholas walk along the rim of the Punch Bowl.

Continue ahead and IGNORE the first right-hand turning through bollards. A little further along, look out for the waymark post which marks a path to the right. Turn right here, up the short flight of steps and you will emerge out to Gibbet Hill with its trig point and Celtic Cross.

Gibbet Hill to Temple of the Four Winds
Gibbet Hill to Temple of the Four Winds

Start point: 51.1155 lat, -0.7158 long
End point: 51.1148 lat, -0.7068 long

Gibbet Hill is the second highest point in Surrey, standing at 272m above sea level. Take time to enjoy the panoramic views. On clear days it is possible to see several landmarks within London, including Wembley Stadium and The Gherkin. The hill takes its name from the Gibbet (a type of gallows) that once stood here and was used to execute criminals. The bodies were hung in metal cages to deter other criminals.

It is worth making a small detour at this point to enjoy an additional viewpoint. Standing with this panoramic view behind you, take a less-trodden path diagonally to your left. This will take you along a narrow path through the bracken to reach an oak bench called Xylem (pictured in the Gallery), created for the Inspiring Views project by sculptor Walter Bailey. For this design, Walter explored charcoal, its historical relevance to local industry and the Greensand Way. 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 inspiringviews.org 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.

To resume your walk, return to the trig point. Standing with your back to the trig point and facing the panoramic view, take the path marked with the pink/black arrow at about 1 o’clock. Follow this narrow stone path down into the common. At the bottom of the slope you will come to a junction of paths. Take the public bridleway opposite, passing alongside the vehicle barrier and climbing steadily. Continue ahead for some distance until you reach the stone platform, the Temple of the Four Winds, on the left. This once housed an old hunting lodge, built in 1910 as part of the Witley Estate.

Temple of the Four Winds to Common Gate
Temple of the Four Winds to Common Gate

Start point: 51.1148 lat, -0.7068 long
End point: 51.1125 lat, -0.7143 long

Turn right here and then keep right at the fork. You will pass between a number of impressive old oak trees and through a section of coppiced sweet chestnut trees. When you reach a T-junction with a vehicle track, turn right along this, passing a pond on the right.

Where the main track swings right, fork left, continuing on the path with the fence on the left. Follow the sunken unmade track through a pretty tunnel of trees and it will lead you to a gate into Hindhead Common.

Common Gate to Dovecote
Common Gate to Dovecote

Start point: 51.1125 lat, -0.7143 long
End point: 51.1058 lat, -0.7234 long

Go through the gate (Note: you may come across wild ponies and Highland Cattle from this point so keep dogs under close control) and follow the obvious grass path steadily uphill. The path swings left to join a stone track. Continue ahead as another path merges in from the right.

Follow the path steadily downhill and eventually go through a gate ahead to reach a crossroads with an unmade road. Turn right, heading uphill. The road will lead you past a timber clad property on the left, Roughwood. Further along you will come to a complex of red brick properties on the left, including Dovecote.

Dovecote to End
Dovecote to End

Start point: 51.1058 lat, -0.7234 long
End point: 51.1151 lat, -0.7285 long

Turn right here, passing through the kissing gate to re-enter Hindhead Common. Follow the obvious path ahead into the heath which is a blaze of purple in the late summer months. When you reach a crossroads, keep left, following the pink/black markers. Continue following the pink/black waymarks which lead you through the common. Keep your eyes peeled as you are likely to get a glimpse of the Highland Cattle in this section.

Pass out through a gate and you will come to a crossroads (that you may recognise from your outward leg). Go straight ahead and follow the path across the old A3 and on 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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2 images to "Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Common"

3592_0Richard1410245432 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
T & E on the last leg of the walk September 2014
3592_0adminv151472034010 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: adminv15
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Xylem by Walter Bailey. Part of the Inspiring Views project.

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