Walking off our Christmas Puddings

What a tremendous turnout for our annual Walk off Your Christmas Puddings walk!  About 55 people congregated at the March Hare in Guildford.

It was quite a sight as we trekked down through the the back roads on to a route that took us along the North Downs Way and then gently up through the Chantries to enjoy spectacular views to the West and South with Shalford and Chilworth lying in the valley below.

After all the rain we have had recently, there was inevitably a little bit of mud to negotiate, but overall the walk was remarkably dry. It was great to see some new faces, and several people I spoke to said that they just hadn’t realised that there was such beautiful countryside, a few minutes walk from the centre of Guildford.


Avoiding the mud and

through the gate

From the Chantries, our walk leader, Pete Lambert, led us towards Pewley Down through pleasant green fields below Halfpenny Lane where we admired some very impressive houses in the distance .

With so many people joining us, we met quite a few walkers, who wanted to know who we were. It was great that so many immediately knew of the Surrey Hills Society and recognised the work that the Society does for our precious landscape.

On the top of Pewley Down we drank in further wonderful views and we were able to see some of the work that is being done by the Pewley Down Volunteers, who clear areas to protect the habitat of the small blue butterfly, by encouraging the growth of kidney vetch that is essential food for its caterpillars.

On top of Pewley Down

From here it was a short walk back to Guildford and a well deserved mulled wine at the Keep Pub. By the end we all felt we had at least done something towards counteracting our Christmas feasting and we really couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy a mild Christmas morning out walking in our special Surrey Hills


Lovely walk and now for some mulled wine

Thank you to all the volunteers, who assisted with the organisation of our last walk of the year.

A very Happy New Year to everyone.

Gordon Jackson, Chairman

Celebrating the start of Christmas the Surrey Hills way

Following on from our annual walk up Holmbury Hill, followed by mulled wine and mince pies at Belmont School, on the first Saturday in December, our second festive event is natural wreath making and decorating for Christmas.  Sixteen members of the Society gathered for a sunny morning walk, gathering greenery in a private wood in Wonersh, near Guildford.

Foraging for winter greenery

The group then spent two happy hours talking and drinking mulled punch and mince pies while making some beautiful natural wreaths from twigs, moss, holly, ivy, yew and rose hips.

Volunteer leaders Chris Howard and Charlotte Choi led the group, while Jeff Holliday and Ken Bare kept the mulled punch and mince pies flowing. Chris said ” we had such a range of people come from a mum and 7 month old baby, to a mum with three grown up daughters who come every year to our wreath making.  It is one of their  family’s little treats over the festive season.”

Chris also explained that with all the talk about Climate change and habitat loss, it was important to cherish our wonderful native plants like holly and ivy.  The prickly holly makes a great hiding place for small birds, and the berries a natural food source. The ivy flowers late in the autumn so is a great source of nectar for insects, as well as great nesting sites for birds in the summer. Chris added “I encourage the participants to plant holly, ivy and yew in their gardens, so not only can they decorate their houses festively and cheaply at Christmas time, but they are also helping to sustain this counties wildlife all year round.

All finished and feeling Christmassy now

The next event in our festive season line up is a walk around Guildford on 27th December, called “Walk off your Christmas Pudding” led by Pete Lambert. 

Pre-Christmas walk for all the family from Belmont School

Getting into the festive spirit in the Surrey Hills

Belmont School

For the 11th consecutive year, the Surrey Hills Society have walked from Belmont School to Holmbury Hill, near Dorking, as part of their festive season celebrations. Originally designed as one off event for the charity’s members, it was requested again the following year and then again, until it became a regular festive date in our packed events calendar.

All proceeds from the walk go to support the work of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which covers about a quarter of our county. Over the years the event has raised well over £1,000 for our charity, thanks to the generosity of Belmont School, who have hosted the mulled wine and mince pies at the end of the walk.  The main building of the school is a Victorian Arts and Crafts designed house, created for Edwin Waterhouse – one of the founders of Waterhouse Coopers, the internationally known business consultancy firm. The house, originally called Feldemore, contains beautiful elements, including a tapestry by William Morris and De Morgan tiles.

Chairman of the Society, Gordon Jackson commented that “it is always such a pleasure to come to Belmont School and see the beautiful Arts and Crafts designs in this building, as well as see how the children have decorated their school each December.

The other treat is reaching the summit of this once Iron Age Hill Fort at Holmbury Hill, to take in the breath-taking view from the summit.”

The Surrey Hills Society has an eclectic mix of events and activities throughout the year which showcase all aspects of the Surrey Hills AONB, from its wildlife and conservation work, to its interesting architecture, music and cultural activities which includes walks, talks, visits and practical volunteering.

Fabulous walk and now for mulled wine and mince pies

New members are always welcome – why not make 2020 your year to get out and about learning more about our wonderful county?  See surreyhillssociety.org for more details.