Surrey Hills Society leads walk from Gomshall to Dorking stations for Community Rail Week

The week of 23 to 29 May has marked Community Rail Week. This annual initiative has, for 2022, been focused on increasing confidence and encouraging people to travel by train. Under the strapline ‘Give the Train a Try’ many rail lines have been hosting or participating in events to promote their local areas.

The Southeast Communities Rail Partnership, Great Western Railways and the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) have a longstanding relationship, having jointly created a range of self-guided walks, installed signage to highlight that many stations are within the Surrey Hills AONB and generally promoted this wonderful landscape to their travellers.

To mark Community Rail Week, the Surrey Hills Society (SHS) hosted a walk between Gomshall and Dorking, based on one of the most recently published routes which covers four walks between Shalford and Betchworth stations. SHS members, supporters of this North Downs line and additional walkers were seen off from Gomshall Station by the mayor of Guildford, Dennis Booth at the start of their 10km walk.

Walking through some of our wonderful Surrey Hills AONB countryside including Piney Wood (donated to National Trust by the author of “A Passage to India”, EM Forster) we also came to the Wilberforce Memorial on Abinger Roughs and the Adonis Blue butterfly sculpture on Denbies Hillside.

Our walk ended at Denbies Vineyard where we were greeted by the Chair of Mole Valley District Council, Paul Potter. After leisurely refreshments, it was off to Dorking Deepdene station for our train trip back to Gomshall.

These Rail to Ramble walks are available to download at www.surreyhills.org/route/walking-running/ or can be picked up as leaflets from the Tourist Information Centre in Guildford High Street or the SHS table in the Zero Centre (14-16 Friary Street Guildford).

If you would like to get involved with the Surrey Hills Society please see our website  www.surreyhills.org

Discover the hidden secrets of Holmwood Common

On Tuesday 24 May, 22 SHS members enjoyed a walk around Holmwood Common which took everyone   through a quiet wooded area to see both the natural life and then to visit some of the historical features as mentioned in our Zoom talk in February. The weather could have been better, however after the rain the sun came out.  Ray Jessop, one of our members who also organises events, took some photos during the morning and he is happy to share them with us here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Ray

Pierrepont Farm – Chairman’s Day 2022

 

On 12th May 2022, the Society had an exclusive visit to Pierrepont Farm, near Frensham.  The day started enjoying morning coffee on the terrace, overlooking a field of young Jersey cattle, while the sun lifted everybody’s spirits.

Pierrepont Farm is owned by the Countryside Regeneration Trust (CRT), who work to Protect, Promote and Regenerate farmland, focusing on how farming and wildlife can work together in harmony. Throughout the day, we received a series of talks, which explained exactly how they are making this happen.

The first talk was given by Volunteer Coordinator, Brian who led us through a beautiful woodland, home to native bluebells and humming with birdsong. He explained the activities carried out by volunteers of the CRT, including the installation of nest boxes, hedge laying, fence building, and the creation of a permissive path, which led us through the woodland. The woodland also has a fantastic educational area for young children, where they can immerse themselves in nature and be creative outside.

The next talk took place in the Dairy Farm parlour, led by Mike Clear the tenant farmer at Pierrepont Farm. While surrounded by beautiful Jersey Cattle, Mike outlined life on the farm and his love of Jersey cows before, leading the way into the robotic milking parlour. Here, quite remarkably, the cows queue up to be milked before heading on their way!

When it is there turn, the cow enters the milking pen and receives a small snack. The robot then cleans the cows’ udders before locating the teats using a scanner. The four milking tubes then attach to each teat, working independently from each other, depending how much milk is present in each teat. Once the milking is complete, the door of the pen opens, the cow heads on her way and the robot cleans itself before the next cow enters the milking area. No human assistance is required – truly amazing!

By this point, everybody had worked up quite an appetite and we assembled once again on the terrace of the Old Dairy, where one of the buildings is home to small brewery and taproom, Craft Brews. Led by business owner, Joe, we enjoyed a craft beer tasting session. We learnt about the history of beer, the ‘IT’ names given to each brew and most importantly we enjoyed tasting it!  Beef burgers were then munched in the sunshine before getting ready for the final talk.

Another small business located on the site of the Old Diary, is ‘Cheese on the Wey’, who create up to eight seasonal cheeses using Jersey milk from the farm. Here we were invited to taste four cheeses (the perfect dessert!) and we learnt about the art of cheese making.

Needing to walk off all the delicious food and beer, we then followed our final guide Glen Skelton, Wetlands Project Manager at Surrey Wildlife Trust, to the River Wey and neighbouring wetland meadow, which is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) due to its floristic diversity.

Here, Glen spoke to us about the importance of wet meadows for natural flood management, as well as their importance as habitats. He also demonstrated how to investigate water quality, looking at the invertebrates found from kick sampling. It was fascinating to see the abundance of life found in a tiny area of the river!

 

 

We then made our way back to the farm, where we thanked our hosts for a truly fascinating day. Pierrepoint farm demonstrates how farming, wildlife and the rural economy can complement each other, and it was the perfect setting for a beautiful day out in the Surrey Hills.

Christa Emmett
Project and Volunteer Coordinator

Walking the North Downs Way Across Surrey as Part of Surrey Day 2022

In an earlier post we let you know that our President, Chris Howard and Vice President, Ken Bare were working with BBC Radio Surrey to record a walk along the Surrey stretch of the North Downs Way (NDW) National Trail from Farnham to Botley Hill. The project which formed a core element of this years Surrey Day has been a great success with daily coverage in the two weeks leading up to 7th May and lots of air time on Surrey Day itself.

Each day there were several segments on BBC Radio Surrey’s James Cannon Breakfast Show with repeats later in the day and episodes available to listen to via BBC Sounds. The big finale on Surrey Day itself was an hour-long broadcast of the entire walk. This version can be found on BBC Sounds – great publicity for the project and for the NDW.

We became involved because Chris Howard is also Chair of Visit Surrey – the official tourist board for Surrey – who are one of the three organisers of Surrey Day along with BBC Radio Surrey and Surrey Life magazine.

Ken and Chris were the guides for the walk, planned the logistics and timings, arranged the interviews with key producers, landowners, walkers and others along the route and generally hosted the project. Our BBC partners were Lewis Mason (reporter and focal point for the walk) and Simon Furber (sound engineer and producer). All four of us quickly gelled into a lively team and made the project a joy to be part of.

We broke the route up into four sections of up to 15 miles per day – Farnham to Guildford, Guildford to Dorking, Dorking to Reigate, Reigate to Botley Hill. With the additional mileage to and from stations and other start / finish points, this gave us about 50 miles of walking.

Anyone who has walked the NDW will be aware that it includes some significant hills such as the climbs to St Martha’s and Newlands Corner or the 275 steps from the bottom of Box Hill to the top. But there are also numerous other hills which are just as steep but less well known. Our route planner showed us that during our 50 mile walk we covered an elevation (i.e. vertical distance) of over one mile. No wonder we had to stop to catch our breath occasionally!

Amongst the aims of the project were promotion of the NDW to encourage more people to get out and enjoy our Surrey countryside. To this end, we were joined for one day by Peter Morris who is the NDW trail manager and on another section by Noreen Siba who is a Trustee of the Downlands Trust.

Another key aspect of the walk was to highlight some of the businesses and producers along – or close to – the route and the way in which they are an important part of what makes the Surrey Hills so special. We were also privileged to meet up with the Lord Lieutenant and his wife (who walked part of the way with us), Bill Biddell from the Hampton Estate, Alistair Burtenshaw from Watts Gallery and many others whose work makes the NDW such an interesting route to walk.

If you have not yet done so, we would recommend listening to some of the coverage to be found on BBC Sounds together with the numerous images which are associated with the walk. Better still, we hope you will be inspired to put on your walking shoes and head out to walk parts of the NDW yourselves.

Ken Bare