Let's dive into shrouded in legend and mystery part of Surrey.
This hike will take us through areas of outstanding beauty. We will pass devil's punch bowl, sailor's stone, Celtic Cross, Temple of Four Winds and an original milestone from the turnpike road.
Ascent: 356 metres
Descent: 328 metres
Difficulty: moderate. Walk includes some steeping gradients and uneven surfaces. Make sure you have appropriate cloting and footware as it can be very muddy at places.
Lunch: We will stop for lunch at Devil's Punch Bowl. If you would like to check their menu, please follow this link: http://www.devilspunchbowlhotel.co.uk/files/File/Menu%2029.09.12(1).pdf. You can either bring your own food or have a meal at one of the local restaurants.
Fee: £5.50 includes the hike and pay pal fees only.
Time: It will be a leisurely walk and should take between 3-4 hours. We will also stop for one hour for lunch. However, it is impossible to predict the exact timings as it depends on the walking speed of the particular group we have on the day.
Transport: We will be taking a train from Clapham Junction to Haslemere. The train leaves at 10:09 and takes 31 minutes to Guildford. From there, at 10:48 am, we will take a rail replacement bus which will take us to Haslemere in another 30 minutes. We will arrive at Haslemere at 11:18am. A day return ticket on the group saver (4 travels for the price of 2) is £9.05. Please make sure you have exact change with you so that you can sort it out promptly. You will have to buy the tickets in groups of four as soon as you arrive, so please note that if you arrive last you may have to buy a full price ticket.
Drivers: It's a circular walk, so if you drive you can meet us in Haslemere, however you will have to sort out your parking and make sure you are there in time as we will only wait from 11:18am till 11:25am as it would not be fair to keep the entire group waiting any longer. I would suggest that if you drive you aim to arrive at least half an hour early to allow for any traffic/parking issues.
Meeting point: We will meet at Clapham Junction Station at the main entrance, next to the ticket offices. When you arrive at the station, please ask a staff member for the main entrance (St John's Hill) as there are a couple of entrances available.
I will be wearing a meet up badge and will be at the meeting point since 9:30am. Please be there sharp on time as we will have to divide into groups of four and buy the tickets and there may be a queue at the tickets' window. 20 minutes should be just enough to get everything sorted. We will make our way to the platform at 9:50am. If you are late I'm afraid we will not be able to wait but you will be welcome to catch up with us at the platform.
If you have any problems please give me a call on[masked] . If you are trying to call and not getting through, this may be becasue 15 other people are also calling me to ask for the way, so please send me a text. As it gets quite hectic when everyone starts arriving and looking for the meeting point, please don't email me or leave a voice mail as I will not have time to check it until after the hike. If you realise last minute that you can not make it - please change your RSVP and text me.
Weather: Please make sure that you are dressed appropriately to the weather. We will not cancel the trip unless the conditions make it dangerous for us to make the walk. If the trip was cancelled you would of course be refunded.
IMPORTANT: By taking part in this meet-up you agree to the following disclaimer: I acknowledge that hiking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. My decision to voluntarily participate in these activities is an informed decision and I am aware of and shall accept such risks. I agree to be responsible for my own actions and involvement in these activities. The organiser does not take any responsibility for my safety.
Devil's Punch Bowl:
The soil in this part of Surrey has two layers — an upper
layer of sandstone, with clay beneath. This deep depression is believed to be the result of erosion caused by spring water beneath the sandstone, causing the upper level to collapse. With its steep sides, the Devil's Punch Bowl has become a natural nature reserve, filled with heathland, streams and woodland.
Local legend has a much more colourful theory as to its
creation. According to one story, during the Middle Ages the Devil became so irritated by all the churches being built in Sussex that he decided to dig a channel from the English Channel, through the South Downs, and flood the area. As he began digging, he threw up huge lumps of earth, each of which became a local landmark — such as Chanctonbury Ring, Cissbury Ring, Mount Caburn and Rackham Hill. He got as far as the village of Poynings (an area known as the Devil's Dyke) when he was disturbed by a cock crowing (one version of the story claims that it was the prayers of St Dunstan that made all the local cocks crow earlier than usual). Assuming that dawn was about to break, he leapt into Surrey, creating the Devil's Punch Bowl where he landed.
Another story goes that, in his spare time, he hurled lumps of earth at the god Thor to annoy him. The hollow he scooped the earth out of became the Punch Bowl. The local village of Thursley means Thor's place. An alternative version of this story says that Thor threw the earth at the Devil, who was annoying Thor by jumping across the Devil's Jumps.
A still older story claims that two giants clashed in the area, and one, scooping up earth to throw at the other, created the landmark before missing the throw and creating the Isle of Wight.
An original milestone from the turnpike road:
We will trade on the original route of the old London to Portsmouth road. From 1748 - 1873 the road was owned by the Kingston - upon- Thames to Sheet Bridge Turnpike Company which maintained the road and collected toll from travellers, but offered no protection fron highwaymen.
This old milestone was recently discovered lying down the
bank of the old A3. Balfour Beatty used their lifting machinery to recover it and the National Trust has re-instated it in almost exactly its original position. It is only a short way along the old turnpike route, (byway 500, going east from the main car park) and still clearly bears the carved inscriptions of the distances to London, Portsmouth, Godalming and Liphook.
Milestones were a common feature of turnpike roads, placed at mile intervals to guide travellers. From 1767, they were compulsory on turnpike roads to help coaches keep to schedule.
The Unknown Sailor was an anonymous seafarer murdered in
September 1786 at Hindhead in Surrey, England. His murderers were hanged in chains on Gibbet Hill, Hindhead the following year.
The Sailor's Stone was erected by James Stillwell of nearby
Cosford Mill soon after the murder. It was sited on the Old Coaching Road from London to Portsmouth close to the site of the murder. The inscription on the front of the stone reads:
In detestation of a barbarous Murder Committed here on an unknown Sailor On Sep, 24th 1786 By Edwd. Lonegon, Mich. Casey & Jas. Marshall Who were all taken the same day And hung in Chains near this place Whoso sheddeth Man's Blood by Man shall his Blood be shed. Gen Chap 9 Ver 6
The Celtic cross:
The Celtic cross on Gibbet Hill marks the spot where three rogues were hung for the murder of a sailor on the old Portsmouth Road. The Hill lies above the Devil's Punch Bowl and is the second highest point in Surrey.
The Temple of the Four Winds:
The Temple of the Four Winds was built around 1910 by Viscount Pirrie, a leading Irish shipbuilder and businessman.
The Viscount’s Witley Park estate included a deer park over this area and many elaborate picnic lunches were held at the lodge for his hunting friends. Vicount Pirrie used to enjoy looking out over his estate from here and admiring the extensive views.
Sadly the lodge gradually fell into disrepair and was vandalised in 1959. By 1966 it had become a hazard and had to be dismantled.
Now only the stone base remains, and over the years scrub undergrowth has begun too obscure some of the magnificent views.
With help from the Black Down & Hindhead Supporters the scrub and undergrowth around the lodge remains has been removed opening up wonderful views and work will be undertaken to restore the stone plinth.