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Explore Surrey: Brentmoor Heath and Donkey Town

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Explore Surrey: Brentmoor Heath and Donkey Town
Author: exploresurrey, Published: 06 Feb 2016 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 UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Surrey, West End
Walk Type: Woodland
Explore Surrey: Brentmoor Heath and Donkey Town
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 5.5km (3.5 mile) circular easy access walk around Brentmoor Heath near West End in Surrey, taking in the beautiful sections of heath and woodland and with chance to visit the local pub. This walk is part of the Explore Surrey collection, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and Surrey County Council.

The walk has just a few gentle slopes throughout. The bridleways are unmade but generally very firm although some of the sections near Sapper Pond and in the heath basin can get very muddy in the wetter months so wellingtons are recommended at these times. This easy access route has been deliberately designed to avoid all obstacles on the heath paths (staggered barriers, narrow bridges and steps) making it suitable for rugged all-terrain pushchairs and disability buggies during the drier months. If you are not limited by avoiding these obstacles, you could explore other paths within the heath (using the GPS-powered map on the App will help you to keep your bearings!). Dogs are welcome on the heath and dog waste bins are provided around the site. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

There are no toilets or other facilities within the heath. If you are looking for refreshments, the walk includes a visit to the Hare and Hounds pub in Donkey Town. Ordnance Survey Map: Explorer 145 Guildford and Farnham. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Information is included for your interest, but please respect people’s privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code.

Brentmoor Heath is located just to the north of West End village, on the A322 (about 2 miles south of the M3). The walk starts and finishes from the Brentmoor Heath free car park (with 1.9m height restriction barrier) which is accessed up a tarmac slope directly off the roundabout between the A322 and the B311 Red Road. There is parking for 10 cars here. Approximate post code GU24 9PZ. If this car park is full, there is a second car park for the heath (holding 6 cars and with no height barrier) accessed off Red Road (simply adjust the walk by starting at Waypoint 1). Approximate post code GU24 9PY. If both car parks are full, there is also roadside parking on Brentmoor Road (simply adjust the walk by starting at the pub, Waypoint 4). Approximate post code GU24 9QG. By bus, alight at West End and make your way to the Hare and Hounds on Brentmoor Road to begin the walk. For help with planning your journey by public transport please visit http://journeys.travelsmartsurrey.info.

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Walk Sections

Start to Red Road Car Park
Start to Red Road Car Park

Start point: 51.3434 lat, -0.6503 long
End point: 51.3435 lat, -0.6544 long

Leave the car park via the main bridleway, passing between the two large signs for Bridleway and Resident Access Only. Follow the main track leading you into the heath, between gorse bushes, ignoring any smaller paths to the sides. At the fork in the track (with a waymarker post) bear right. As the track swings right, look out for a small path on the left. If is worth taking a short detour along this narrow path to reach the bench at the viewpoint ahead. Take a moment at this bench to enjoy the views across Brentmoor Heath.

The heath is a local nature reserve, managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust. The reserve is predominantly wet and dry heath habitats, with areas of woodland, acid grassland and ponds. In the dry heath, dominated by ling, there is scattered gorse - a species typical of the lowland heaths of north-west Surrey. Areas of open ground in the wet heath support the insectivorous sundews, cotton-grass and white beak sedge in an otherwise characteristic community of cross-leaved heath, purple moor grass and deer grass. Stands of mature Scots pine and an area of young oak and birch add to the diversity of habitats present on the reserve.

When you have finished at the bench, retrace your steps back to the track and turn left to continue your journey along this. You will come to a junction with the beautiful Heather Hills Cottage directly ahead. Pass to the right of this cottage, noting the stone marker post on the corner. When this common was enclosed in 1879 by the army, the boundaries were marked by these large numbered stones.

Walk ahead alongside the row of houses on your left (New England Hill) and follow the vehicle track as it swings right, passing through a gateway to reach the second car park, alongside Red Road.

Red Road Car Park to Sapper Pond
Red Road Car Park to Sapper Pond

Start point: 51.3435 lat, -0.6544 long
End point: 51.3443 lat, -0.6657 long

Standing within this parking area, facing the exit to the road, turn left and take the path which passes between the dog waste bin on your left and the information board on your right. Continue to a T-junction and turn right to join a wider path leading you through the trees.

At the first crossroads of bridleways (with blue arrows in each direction) go straight ahead to continue through the trees, heading gently downhill. Towards the bottom of the slope, follow the blue arrows which guide you to bear left and then right, before continuing directly ahead through the trees. You will come to the next junction, with sits at the centre of a patch of gorse bushes.

Turn right here and, a few metres along, keep left at the fork to reach a T-junction with a wide bridleway track. Turn right and then immediately left, to join the path heading for an electricity pylon in the distance. This path winds ahead to reach a T-junction with a path directly alongside the road (so take care with children and dogs). Turn left along the path and follow it as it leads you under power lines. Soon afterwards, take the left-hand branch at the fork (with the power lines running on your left).

Pass the first small section of trees and then a clearing on your right (take care as it can get boggy here!). Immediately before the trees begin again on your right, look out for a narrow path heading right into the heath. (NOTE: This is just a small diversion to visit the pond, so don’t worry if it is too narrow for your pushchair/buggy). Follow this path for 60 metres for reach Sapper Pond. The pond was created in 1998 by soldiers of the Royal Engineers as part of a project to enhance nature conservation on military training areas. It is an important habitat for dragonflies, damselflies, frogs and newts.

Sapper Pond to Donkey Town Corner
Sapper Pond to Donkey Town Corner

Start point: 51.3443 lat, -0.6657 long
End point: 51.3394 lat, -0.6581 long

Follow the narrow path back to the main track and turn right to continue your journey along this. You will emerge to a T-junction with a stone vehicle track (and the fences of the military firing range ahead). Turn left, following the line of the military fence on your right. Pirbright Ranges have been used by the army since 1879 and are still in use today for training, indeed you have probably been hearing the gun fire for most of your walk. A number of red deer were released into the ranges in 2010 and help with conservation grazing.

Continue to a subtle path junction at the point where the military fence bears away to the right. Turn left here, following a narrower path through gorse bushes and on into a section of woodland. The path leads you gently uphill to reach a crossroads. Turn right and you will come to a circle of gorse and silver birch trees, marking a junction of multiple paths.

Skirt around the left-hand edge of the gorse bushes, swinging right to reach the brow of Cuckoo Hill, another excellent viewpoint. The views stretch to the North Downs in the south and to Chobham Ridges in the east. During World War II an Anti-Aircraft Battery was stationed here.

Standing with your back to the main track from which you entered Cuckoo Hill (facing the views), turn right. At the small T-junction turn left and follow this path gently downhill leading you into the centre of the heath basin. You will come to a T-junction with pine trees ahead. Turn left and a few paces later take the right-hand branch at the fork. The path will lead you to a crossroads, with the corner of an area of housing (known as Donkey Town) ahead and to the right.

Donkey Town Corner to Hare and Hounds
Donkey Town Corner to Hare and Hounds

Start point: 51.3394 lat, -0.6581 long
End point: 51.3401 lat, -0.6475 long

Go straight ahead with the houses of Donkey Town across to your right. At the junction, turn right (over the wide bridge) and then immediately left to follow a path with a ditch running on the left. You will emerge to the vehicle access track for some of the properties. Keep straight ahead, ignoring the paths signed into the heath on your left. When you draw level with property number 51 on your right, you will see a bridleway signed to the left. This is the direction the route will eventually take back into the heath, but first the route takes a worthwhile detour to the local pub.

Keep ahead and, at the end of the houses on your right, follow the vehicle track as it swings right. Stay with the access road as it leads you between houses. Development here started in 1815 following an agreement with the Lord of the Manor, Earl Onslow, who offered half acre parcels of land to any demobilised soldier or sailor. Many took up the offer and this area grew as an extension of West End. In the late 1800s map makers asked the locals what the area was called and they were told Donkey Town, because most of the residents used donkeys for work and transport.

At the T-junction with Brentmoor Road, turn left along the pavement and further along you are forced to swap to the right-hand pavement. Pass Martins Tyres on your right (originally a coach company and today a thriving garage) and soon afterwards you will come to the Hare and Hounds, also on your right.

Hare and Hounds to End
Hare and Hounds to End

Start point: 51.3401 lat, -0.6475 long
End point: 51.3435 lat, -0.6502 long

When you are ready to continue stand outside the Hare and Hounds with your back to the pub. If you wish to explore for yourself, it is possible to re-enter the heath via the old village green opposite. However, this easy access route avoids the tight staggered barriers on the green, so turn left along the pavement. Follow this past Martin’s Tyres on your left and later you are forced to swap to the right-hand pavement.

Turn right into Birch Lane and follow it all the way to the last house on the left. Stay with the track as it swings left here, ignoring the first path into the heath on your right. About 100 metres later, directly opposite House 51 on your left, turn right over the wide bridge to join the signed bridleway.

You will come to a staggered crossroads, turn right here following the line of gorse bushes on your right. Pass the large noticeboard on your right and stay on the path closest to the hedge on your right. Where the hedge on your right ends, turn right to pass alongside a wooden vehicle barrier and follow this track as it leads you back through the centre of the New England Hill houses. Some of the houses here date back to 1762. After the last house on your left, you will come to a junction with a vehicle track. If you are parked in the Red Road Car Park, turn left to reach your car. Otherwise, keep straight ahead with the line of houses running on your right.

As you pass the last cottage (Heather Hills Cottage) on your right, stay with the main vehicle track, bearing right and then immediately left to re-enter the woodland. The track swings steadily left to reach a T-junction. Turn left and stay with this main path which leads you back to the main car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author exploresurrey and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Explore Surrey: Brentmoor Heath and Donkey Town"

Nice enough walk, easy route. Car park entrance is steep so if you have a lowish car you may scrape on entry/exit. There is another car park on Red Road which route takes you through this car park.

By markwoolway on 2016-09-04 13:00:32

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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