Exploring Farthing Downs and Happy Valley in Coulsdon

The first picture shows Dominic North, who works on behalf of Croydon Council for conservation of the Happy Valley area of chalk grassland that we’re in, he also does public events like this on their behalf but turned up for SHS that day.  We’re standing in Happy Valley and after that walked towards the sites where the Downlands Partnership graze their conservation sheep to help manage the grassland to encourage greater diversity of the chalk-loving plants and stop the invasive scrub from taking over.

The photo with sheep would be Sean Grufferty, Downlands Partnership shepherd who looks after the sheep on this site on behalf of Croydon Council.

Farthing Downs is managed and looked after by City of London Corporation who own this bit of land for public access, to provide open space for the people of London to get out into the countryside.  They have many other sites around the outer edge of London. The pictures don’t show Farthing Downs, but our walk took in both sites.

Diane Cooper, our walk leader for the day

Visit to the Gardens of Chilworth Manor

Excellent visit to a beautiful garden, full of magnificent water features, sculptures and luscious flowers on a gloriously sunny day!

Very interesting and informative tour with the head gardener, John, with history of both the house and garden – the owners, Mia and Graham Wrigley, kindly agreed for the whole of their fee to be donated to a local charity called Leatherhead Youth Project.

Exploring Mole Gap Trail

A group of enthusiast Society walkers enjoyed the stunning views and glorious sunshine this Sunday between Dorking and Leatherhead.

A big thank you to walk leaders Diane and Pete!

“Loved the walk – really pretty, interesting walk with only one small hill!” Susie, SHS member

Visit to the GASP Project

A big thank you for the GASP people for inviting us and presenting us their project!

What an interesting and great thing for those young lads to be involved in!

We will try and give them as much publicity as possible.  If you hear of anyone who needs to get rid of a car, GASP may be interested or if you know of any engineering companies that may wish to take on one of the lads for work experience or an apprenticeship do tell them about GASP.

Also, if you know of any young people struggling at school, do let them know about GASP.

Chris Howard with GASP students and Volunteers

Gatton Park Work Day


We had a really enjoyable day out assisting Chief Executive, Louise Miller with a day’s scrub bashing in the beautiful grounds of Gatton Park. The sweeping landscape, including a hand dug lake which was the work of famous landscape architect, Capability Brown.

The Surrey Hills Society have been supporting the Gatton Trust with their Heritage Lottery Funded Project during the last 18 months, to restore some of the original features of the park, as part of the 300th anniversary celebrations for the celebrity garden designer of his day.

It was great to meet some of the people who regularly volunteer for the Trust.  It was also interesting to be able to view the new landscaping around the lake that the SHS had raised match-funding for.  As a treat, in the late afternoon, we were taken over to view the special Japanese garden which was once featured on “Gardener’s World”.

I will definitely be volunteering there again.

By Jessica Howard

Explore Waverley’s Inspiring Views

Torrential rain cleared for our “Inspiring Views Walk” in The Hurtwood and Winterfold Hill, names as poetic and imaginative as the poetry and music that have been created to accompany and enhance the experience of the quirky seat sculptures on The Greensand Way, funded by The Mittal Foundation. As someone who knows and appreciates this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the viewpoints where the seats are located, I have to say that for me nothing more than that which nature has already provided is necessary, but thanks anyway for somewhere to sit!  I am all for keeping sculptors, poets and musicians in work and this has been achieved, I would add at the additional cost of a booklet (how many trees were felled for this) explaining what was going through their minds. The walk was delightful and the gods were on our side as the heavens once again opened as we came to the end of our trail.  The Surrey Hills Society brilliantly provides great opportunities to see, experience and learn more about the diverse aspects of this most sylvan beautiful county.

Heather Aitken, SHS member


Map Reading Day

The chilly weather didn’t discourage our participants. The course was fully booked and all were very keen to learn how to use their maps and compasses in an accurate manner.

The morning was spent learning everything in theory and in the afternoon we tried to follow the instructions of the morning session, some more successfully than others.

A few comments at the end of the day:

“Thank you for a very informative day! I have learnt a lot – I just need to get out and practice now.”

“After today’s training, the map reading is not such a mystery any more. Thank you Peter!”

A Day out in Dorking

Part of our group, who had a fascinating day despite the weather, by the war memorial.

One of the many questions on the day was about the date, why 1919 instead 1918 designating the end of the war? We were told that it includes some who died after repatriation from wartime injuries.

A Society member comments on the day:

“Dorking is a very interesting town – surprising what there is behind the High Street which you normally never see as you travel through!”