Greensand Way from Haslemere to Hindhead

Our monthly, free guided walk took us this time along Greensand Way from Haslemere to Hindhead

For the first event of the new year, 25 members of the Surrey Hills Society set off from Haslemere for a 6 mile walk along the Greensand Way to Hindhead. The walk was in celebration of the Surrey Hills Inspiring Views project. An Arts project to create beautiful works of art that also serve as benches, on which you can sit and admire the view. The bench at Hindhead was created by Sir Walter Bailey and is called Xylem.

For this bench at Gibbets Hill, Hindhead, the artist explored charcoal, its historical relevance to the Greensand Way and how this material has supported individuals and industries enabling the shaping of copper, bronze, glass and iron. He examined charcoal under the microscope and made enlarged studies of these to inform his intuitive approach of carving directly out of oak.

Everyone enjoyed getting out in the fresh air after Christmas. Several members had not been to the Haslemere area before and commented on how pretty the area was.

Chris Howard, Walk Leader

Have Your Say

The Surrey Hills was one of the first landscapes in England to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1958. It is now one of 34 AONBs in England and has equivalent landscape status to a National Park.

Every 5 years the Surrey Hills AONB Board have a statutory duty to produce a Management Plan setting the policies for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Plan needs to be approved by the Secretary of State and adopted by all the local authorities to ensure the Surrey Hills is conserved and enhanced for future generations.

This is YOUR opportunity to inform the policies and priorities in the Surrey Hills AONB Management Plan for 2019 – 2024.  Let us know why the Surrey Hills are important to you and help us to identify the main challenges and opportunities for the future.

Simply visit and complete the short survey by 13 January 2019.

A Change of Chairs

At our October AGM, Chris Howard stood down as Chairman having completed her allotted time as defined by our Constitution.  Although the formal business of the AGM allowed us to have a small amount of time to say “Thank You”, the Society decided that it would be more fitting to have a separate celebratory event to recognise Chris’s enormous contribution.  Thus was the Change of Chairs event born.

We felt that this event would also be a great opportunity for our members to meet and get to know the incoming Chairman, Gordon Jackson, and for him to get feedback on the way our members want the Society to evolve.

It is a well established fact that our members like their food and drink so, to provide continuity to the evening, we put on a substantial buffet and – in a long standing tradition – created one of our photo quizzes about the Surrey Hills.

The evening was a great success and as Chris said afterwards “I for one thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was lovely to just enjoy the event, rather than worrying about delivering an effective AGM”.


Footnote: Chris Howard and Ken Bare may have ceased to be Chair and Vice-Chair of the Society but they have not gone away.  The Trustee board has appointed them as Vice-Presidents and in that role they will continue to work closely with the Society, supporting new initiatives and working as active volunteers.

Harvest by Surrey Hills Arts

Last October saw an incredible community event upon Box Hill. As part of Surrey Unearthed artist Mary Branson created a large-scale, illuminated installation of 65 outlines of hay bales in a field on Box Hill Farm. On 29 October, hundreds of people gathered at Box Hill viewpoint to view the last day of the installation and hear choirs singing traditional harvest songs.

During the event, Surrey Hills Arts held an experimental Call and Response artwork between the singers at the top of the hill and those down in the field. As the sun turned orange and then pink, the evening ended with a recital of a beautiful poem, selected from the Surrey Unearthed anthology by the Mole Valley poets.

The Harvest event is hoped to be established as an annual community celebration. You can view the film of the event at

Amazing Patchworking Garden bringing people together

On Friday August 24th, we made a follow up visit to the Patchworking Garden Project in Dorking which was established less than four years ago in the stunning setting of a walled garden with views to Box Hill. Its aim is to bring positive change to people’s lives through friendship and gardening.

Around fifteen of us gathered to tour the garden followed by tea and cake. The majority had not visited the garden before, but those who had were impressed by the enormous change in just two years when we last visited the garden.

The theme of our visit was “harvest” and in addition to Susie Turner, an SHS and Patchworking Garden volunteer, we were led by Jennie Philips, their fruit and vegetable specialist. The number of vegetables grown outside was extraordinary; including rhubarb, onions, leeks, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, courgettes, corn, carrots, squash, parsnips, beetroot and beans and in the poly-tunnel, a wealth of cucumbers , tomatoes, aubergines and ripening melons. Jennie told us she – like others – had just learnt as she went along but given the impressive display, we are sure considerable knowledge and experience was involved.

The short introductory talk taught us quite a bit. We learnt that the garden supports people ranging in age from late teens to late eighties with a diverse range of needs including mental health conditions, physical disabilities and bereavement. Volunteers attend either a morning or afternoon session each week and ideally everyone leaves feeling better than they did on arrival.

And what of the changes? Well, there are quite a few: the workshop where activities take place in the winter is now insulated, a new kitchen shed is under construction and an outdoor kitchen area has been added, enabling volunteers to make soups in the winter months. Aesthetically much has improved, rough grass has made way for a very pretty patchwork bedding area: a couple of our visitors thought they may copy the idea. A pond, surrounded by plants and home to a variety of wildlife, looked as if it had been there for ever. A willow house provides an opportunity for therapeutic weaving and a peaceful place to sit, while in place of a mass of brambles and weeds is a beautiful wild flower garden. There were also lots of signs of creativity including a stunning bug hotel, a butterfly made from bottle tops and at the entrance, totem poles made from pottery.

It was a fascinating afternoon made all the more enjoyable by the dry warm weather although shortly after leaving, the heavens opened giving the garden a much needed soak.

The garden has been in the spotlight over the past year with a visit by HRH the Duke of Gloucester and an award from Surrey’s High Sheriff. Anyone interested in becoming a Friend or Volunteer should look at the website


Tillingbourne Tales receives an award

At the end of July, the Surrey Hills Society, and Shere Museum jointly received an award from the Surrey Industry History Group (SIHG).  This award which is presented annually to an important local project was received as a result of the Tales and Trails of the Tillingbourne project.  Whilst there were many participants and partners in this project, the Society and the Museum were deemed to have been lead volunteer groups and hence suitable recipients of the award.

The project had many facets including the creation of character puppets, life stories of the characters, involvement of Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre and local schools, etc.  Especially mentioned at the award ceremony was the production of walks leaflets covering each of the Tillingbourne villages and their industrial past.  These leaflets which are available from the Society and Shere Museum have been well received by the public and have introduced a new audience to the fascinating history of the area.

In a small celebration event at Shere Village Hall, a plaque was presented to Christine Howard (Chairman of Surrey Hills Society) and Handa Bray (Patron of Shere Museum) by Jan Spencer (Editor of the SIHG Newsletter).  In due course, this plaque will be mounted close to the Tales of the Tillingbourne display in a new gallery within Shere Museum that was created specifically as part of the project.  SIHG also made donations to both organisations which were very gratefully received.

The Tales and Trails of the Tillingbourne project was funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant.  Further information may be found at:
and on its own web site at:


Society members go back to school

You are never too old to learn!  Well, our members recently showed their enthusiasm for doing so as can be shown by this photograph taken in the schoolroom at the Rural Life Centre in Tilford.

The event was a visit to this museum of rural bye-gones which began with a fascinating guided tour by one of their very knowledgeable volunteers.  Our members then had an opportunity to investigate further and to understand more about living and working in Surrey at an earlier time. From learning more about a school day at the beginning of the 20th century through to visits to the blacksmiths shop and a recently installed cycle shop, there was something to fascinate all our group.

After a leisurely ploughman’s lunch under the trees of the on-site café, our intrepid group then headed next door to the RSPB Farnham Heath nature reserve.  This reserve has a special connection to the Surrey Hills AONB, because back in 2016 following a heathland fire, the Surrey Hills Trust Fund provided a grant to help with heathland recovery (click here to read more).  Not only that, but the reserve is currently the home of an outdoor arts project entitled “Heathland Artworks” which is being led by Surrey Hills Arts.

Our afternoon route around the heath included visits to all the artworks – which created a lively topic of discussion throughout the walk. So, not only did we get to see some wonderful heathland but we had the opportunity to visit these exhibits created by students from the University for the Creative Arts based at Farnham.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to visit either of these locations, the museum is well worth a visit (visit and the Heathland Artworks exhibition – free – is open daily until 4th September with access from the Rural Life Centre car park.

Water fountain launched at Leith Hill

The Society works in partnership with an increasing number of related charities and organisations. One of these is the National Trust and this particular initiative was with the NT Surrey Hills office.

Way back in 2015 we decided to raise funds to support an initiative by the then Leith Hill ranger, Ruby Cole, who came up with the idea of providing a Victorian water fountain and cattle trough to be sited near to the Tower. There are many visitors to Leith Hill, whether on foot, cycling or horse-riding, not to mention our four-legged friends – they can now all benefit from fresh running water if they need it.


We were able to donate a cheque for £1,000 to them to add to the funds that Ruby herself had raised, as well as other charities. Some of our funds were raised by our members sponsoring two cyclists (my sons!) taking part in the Ride London annual cycling event.

The time lapse came with the need to actually find an original trough from the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain Trust that had been decommissioned, then refurbished, modernised, transported to Leith Hill and connected to the water supply. But we got there in the end and a group of about 30 met in view of the Tower on 13 July to launch the water fountain, which had come from Roehampton Vale. NT volunteers had given their time to bring this all together with the NT office, as well as baking delicious cakes and providing us with refreshments. Thanks to Nicky Scott, Ranger for Leith Hill, and her team for hosting the event.

Diane Cooper, SHS Marketing & Comms group