Visit and Tour of Kenley Airfield on 21st October 2021

We met up at the War Memorial on the airfield and were guided around by Linda who had a plethora of images taken of the airfield over the decades. She was ably assisted by Alan, Tony and Neil who were all very knowledgeable about the history of the site and each had their expertise in differing areas.

The airfield was heavily involved in the Battle of Britain.

Douglas Bader was based at Kenley and is famous for losing both his legs in a plane crash but he went back to fly many successful missions.

We were shown the E shaped blast pens which were designed and built to deflect the blast of German bombs away from the aircraft, and some of these are still intact from when they were originally built.

One of the most terrible onslaughts at the airfield was at lunchtime on Sunday 18th August 1940 when 9 low flying German planes attacked the airfield. There was total devastation but 4 of the attacking planes were brought down, 2 crashed and the other 3 were badly damaged.

Kenley is identified by English Heritage as “The most complete fighter airfield associated with the Battle of Britain to have survived”.

The airfield is now used by gliders for enjoyment and also for training.

 

 

We are organising a return visit next year to include refreshments in the RAFA.

 

Sall Baring

Surrey Hills Society welcomes new Volunteer Coordinator

                                         

 

 

We are delighted to welcome Christa Emmett as our new Surrey Hills Society Volunteer Coordinator which has been made possible by 2 years funding through the Trust Fund, the Community Foundation for Surrey and the AONB Board.

Christa will be working with local charities and other community groups to facilitate voluntary conservation activity in the Surrey Hills.  She will be providing advice and support to parish councils and community groups in the Surrey Hills AONB to take practical action to implement and maintain conservation projects supporting the Society with fundraising.

 

Christa will also be ensuring effective communication and coordination of programmes with partners.  She will be working in close cooperation with Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Christa says ” I am really excited to join the Surrey Hills family. My background is in ecology and conservation, however, I also have a fair bit of experience working with young people. Having grown up in the Surrey Hills, I am passionate about protecting this beautiful area and what it provides for both people and nature.

I hope I can use my experience to bring together volunteers, landowners, parish councils and other community groups to protect and enhance our local biodiversity. There are a range of exciting projects in the pipeline and I am eager to meet the large voluntary community of the Surrey Hills, to make these projects come to life.”

 

Gordon Jackson says “This is a new post within the Society and represents an exciting opportunity to develop the Into the Wild concepts that the Society has been supporting over recent years.  All the evidence now shows that enabliing people to work in and enjoy the countryside is massively beneficial to mental and physical health.  Christa brings special expertise which will enable us to take the Society forward and to work on important projects that will enhance the Surrey Hills.”

New Leith Hill Greenway

                                                                                 

“Be Nice, Say Hi” on the first Surrey Hills Greenway

 

The first Greenway in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) was officially launched today (23 September) by the Chairman of Surrey County Council, Helyn Clack. Known as the Leith Hill Greenway, the new route provides greater access for people of all abilities to enjoy beautiful countryside in a sustainable way for their health and well-being whilst reducing conflict. It is hoped this new route will be the first of many Greenways across Surrey linking the countryside with towns and cities.

The brainchild of Cycling UK, Greenways are a network of mostly off-road routes that connect people to facilities, rural businesses and open spaces in and around towns, cities and the countryside. The new 15 km Leith Hill Greenway route provides an opportunity for Surrey residents and visitors to enjoy the famous views of Box Hill, one of the UK’s most spectacular vineyards at Denbies and the National Trust’s majestic Leith Hill tower, with its sweeping panoramic views of London and the English Channel. Along the Greenway, the countryside is blessed with rich wildlife, ancient woodland, historic sites and rolling fields.

The new route is well signposted, easily accessible and safely off-road, and encourages people to leave their vehicles at home and explore the area in a more sustainable way. The route can be started and finished at any point where there is a directional sign, meaning visitors can take on the challenge of the full 15 km or just a section of the route.

Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns:

“The Greenways initiative is a fabulous opportunity not just for Surrey visitors and residents but also for local businesses along its linked-up network of traffic free and traffic light routes. The vision of being able to journey from London to Leith Hill in peace and quiet is something all lovers of the countryside should support, whether you walk, cycle or ride horses.

“Cycling UK is hugely supportive of the Surrey Hills AONBs ambition and have helped advise on the work to date linking Leith Hill to Denbies Wine Estate. We’d encourage everyone to give it a go, and while doing so bear in mind the mantra of our joint education campaign with the British Horse Society: “Be Nice, Say Hi”.”

Mark Weston, Director of Access at the British Horse Society:

“We are thrilled to see that the Greenways initiative is helping to improve access for all users in the Surrey Hills. As one of the vulnerable road user groups, horse riders face considerable dangers on our roads and the need for safer off-road riding opportunities has never been greater.

By promoting the BHS and Cycling UK’s joint campaign, ‘Be Nice, Say Hi’ in the area we hope that we will be able to educate more riders, cyclists and walkers to be confident to pass one another comfortably and safely.”

Fiona Spencer of the Ramblers Association (Mole Valley):

“As Ramblers we welcome the Greenway initiative as a way to encourage more people to discover the joys of walking in nature. The Ramblers Association, through its local groups, of which there are 16 in Surrey, offers sociable volunteer-led walks to suit all levels of experience. Since Covid-19 the desire of people to visit the countryside has become ever more apparent. Well guided trails are important in helping people feel safe in walking, whether alone or with others. Exchanging a friendly smile with those you may meet, be they on foot, on horseback or on bicycles, can only add to our pleasure. So Be Nice, say Hi.”

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board:

“We’re absolutely delighted to have Helyn Clack, Chairman of Surrey County Council to launch the new Leith Hill Greenway. As more and more people recognise the benefits of discovering our countryside, the new Greenway will help them to do this by opening up the landscape for accessible exploration whilst encouraging people to respect and protect the natural environment as they do so.

” We are so grateful to all our partners, especially DEFRA for funding, Denbies for giving permissive access on their land for part of the route, and Surrey County Council for getting it all done!”

This project has been funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

For more information about the new Leith Hill Greenway, including a map of the route visit: https://www.surreyhills.org/discover-route/leith-hill-greenway.

Habitat Project – Greening Surrey’s urban spaces

Habitat Project – Greening Surrey’s urban spaces

 

 

 

A proposal to create community green spaces.

 

 

 

 

Surrey Hills Arts are embarking on a project that will green urban spaces in every borough and district in Surrey. These pockets of land will be developed with the local communities working with artists and ecologists to achieve spaces that are well-designed, sustainable and will greatly benefit and encourage wildlife.

This project is a direct response to climate change and the decreasing biodiversity we are facing. Each space will include sculptural habitats relevant to the area which will support insects, bats, bees, birds and other wildlife. The planting will be specifically designed with the same intention working with Surrey Wildlife Trust.

 

Help Us

We are applying for funding from Your Fund Surrey, and you can agree or comment on our idea here:
Support our proposal

Chairman’s Day in Buckland on 14 July 2021

How lucky we were to chose the first sunny day for several weeks for Chairman’s Day at Buckland.

Our morning started at the home of our guide for the day – local historian Duncan Ferns. Yewdells is a Grade II listed building built in 1713 and we enjoyed our welcome tea and coffee in Duncan’s delightful garden, which he personally designed. That was not all – situated in the garden is the only surviving wind-powered sawmill in the UK. Built between 1860 and 1870, the mill powered a timber saw and was used by the Sanders family who ran their sawyers business from the site.

Duncan then led us a wonderful tour of Buckland Village, which included a visit to Buckland Parish Church.

There has been a church on this since the Domesday Book and probably earlier. Parts of the church are thought to have been built in 1380 although it was extensively refurbished in 1860.

 

Other highlights of the tour included a visit to the former Old Parsonage where we admired the original late Georgian frontage and the fabulous views across to the North Downs.

We also heard about and visited Buckland’s three village greens, which arose because the entire village was moved to avoid the Plague. The current green is idyllic with a an old timber barn and picturesque village pond along one edge and the Old School and a number of timbered cottages opposite.

Duncan then led us on a 30 minute across the fields and into the Buckland Estate, which is newly open to the public.

Here we enjoyed an excellent meal overlooking Park Lake, which was a former gravel pit.  Buckland Sand has been quarried since the 1920’s. Sand extraction activities were completed in 2014 and whole area has been sensitively restored with a view to reintroding biodiversity. Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the area.

Duncan was ideally placed to tell us all about the area as he was the Estate Manager until very recently. The newly opened Cliffe Cafe served an excellent meal and most of us felt the need to stretch our legs for 40 minutes around the perimeter of the Lake before returning to our cars.

 

All in all a fabulous day which will be remembered by all for some time to come.

Gordon Jackson, Chairman

Butterfly walk near Netley House

This excellent walk was led by Mike Waite, Living Landscapes Officer at the Surrey Wildlife Trust. The weather was perfect for butterflies but Mike is hugely knowledgeable about all wildlife and gave us a real insight into the ecology of the area.

We saw several species of butterfly including the Common Blue, the Speckled Wood and the Red Admiral. We also heard about work of the Butterfly Conservation Trust and the Stepping Stones Project, which is designed to create chalk scrapes planted with kidney vetch, the sole food plant of the Small Blue butterfly. These scrapes have been created at strategic spots between Pewley Down in the West and Denbies Hillside in the East to encourage the colonies that exist in these two places to spread out across the North Downs.

Quite apart from the flora and fauna, we also heard about the history of the Netley Estate particularly during the First and Second World Wars and stood on one of a number of pillboxes that are built on the North Downs ridge to enjoy breathtaking views of Shere and the surrounding countryside beneath us.

Mike also introduced us to several species of Orchid. The Bee Orchid was a special find. This is a fine example of a highly evolved mutual relationship where the plant relys on floral mimicry by imitating the bee upon which it is dependent for pollination.

Gordon Jackson Chairman

Surrey Hills Community Forum – 29 July 2021

 

A FREE Community Forum for parish councils, community groups in the Surrey Hills and all Surrey Hills Society members.

About this event
The Surrey Hills AONB Board and the Surrey Association of Local Councils will be hosting an online Community Forum for parish councils and community groups on Thursday 29 July.

This will be an opportunity to hear about the Surrey Hills Boundary Extension, Making Space for Nature – Greening Communities and the work of the Surrey Hills Family.

Programme:
Welcome and introduction
Liz Cutter, Vice President of SALC and Surrey Hills AONB Board

Update on the Surrey Hills
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB Director

Surrey Hills Boundary Extension
Heather Kerswell,Surrey Hills AONB Chair
Clive Smith, Surrey Hills Planning Adviser

Making Space for Nature – Greening Communities
Liz Cutter, Vice President of SALC and Surrey Hills AONB Board
Caroline Price, Surrey Hills AONB

Q&A
Anne Bott,Deputy CEO SALC

To book a place, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/surrey-hills-community-forum-2021-tickets-160542118799

The Vineyards of the Surrey Hills

At the Guildford Book Festival in 2020 Oz Clarke spoke about his latest book, “English Wine – From Still to Sparkling – The Newest New World Wine Country”.

An extraordinary transformation has been quietly taking place during the last 20 years.  Although wine has been made in England for over 2000 years – the Romans planted vineyards as far north as Lincolnshire – it would have been hard to find anyone that took English wine seriously during most of that period. Since the turn of the century there has been an ever-increasing interest in the potential for vineyards in England and in 2019 we produced 10.5 million bottles of wine – 72% of which was sparkling.

The harbinger of change occurred in 1998 when Nyetimber’s 1993 Classic Cuvée sparkling wine was awarded the Trophy for the Best Sparkling Wine in the World, shaking the wine establishment to its core.  Since then, a recognition that the chalk geology of the North and South Downs is nearly identical to that in Champagne and the certainty of increasing temperatures because of climate change have led to more and more plantings.  Even some of the great French Champagne Houses such as Taittinger and Vranken-Pommery have begun planting the traditional champagne grape varieties in Kent and Hampshire.

The Surrey Hills is now a recognised wine growing region.  The Vineyards of the Surrey Hills collaborate to market their award-winning wines, although each has its own unique way of promoting a wine experience.

Denbies, owned and run by the White family, is the largest single estate vineyard in the country and produces several internationally award-winning wines.   Dine at the Vineyard or Gallery Restaurants, experience an indoor wine tasting and winery tour or take an outdoor vineyard tour on a train and enjoy the panoramic views of the vineyard and the North Downs.

It was their still Silent Pool Rosé that first put Albury Organic Vineyard on the map when it was served on the Royal Barge to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The brainchild of former IT specialist, Nick Wenman, Albury rigorously apply biodynamic principles to the production of their excellent gold award winning sparkling wines. Again, there are a wide variety of experiences to enjoy: Sparkling Afternoon Tea (with the team from the Dabbling Duck), Biryani and Bubbles (with nearby Mandira’s Kitchen), Bee Keeping Demonstration with Sergio, the Albury Bee Keeper, and Music in the Vineyard to mention just a few.

At High Clandon Bruce and Sybilla Tindale are twice winners of the prestigious IWC Cellar Door of the Year in 2017 and 2018.  They call their sparkling wine Quintessence of England.  And that is certainly the sense you get if you visit the Glass Barn – their new visitor centre where they host sparkling wine tastings alongside Sculpture and Art exhibitions.  Their wildflower meadow enjoys glorious views over the AONB towards London with the boutique vineyard nestling below.

Mike and Hilary Wagstaff took over Greyfriars Vineyard In 2010.  With over 50 acres now planted near their base on the Hogs Back they have dug a cellar out of the chalk that will house 250,000 bottles.  They specialise in making top quality sparkling wines using the traditional method but with the most modern grape growing and winemaking technology.

Mia and Graham Wrigley run the family-owned business at Chilworth Manor that produces excellent Rosé made from 51% Pinot Meunier and 49% Pinot Noir.  Chilworth Manor is a house and estate rooted in an extraordinary 1000 year history that reaches as far back as the Domesday Book – its story told through the lives of Saxons, Normans, monks, and gunpowder manufacturers.  Their 2020 production is already sold out!

There are other wineries in or near the Surrey Hills AONB such as Godstone and Iron Railway and all the signs are that future growth of wineries in the Surrey Hills will be substantial. There are now 222 vineyards in the South East representing 61.5% of the total hectarage in the UK. 26% of winegrowers in England have indicated an intention to plant more vines in the next three years (see Wine GB 2020 Industry Report).

Interestingly, it is not only the wineries that are growing.  There are many breweries and distilleries beginning to flourish in the Surrey Hills.  Keep an eye out for future eNewsletters when we hope to review the exciting things that are happening in this area.

Gordon Jackson