Activities and walks

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The sandy paths up to the Church on the summit from either Guildford Lane Car Park or Halfpenny Lane Car park offer stunning views of the surrounding area. From the top, on a clear day, you can see eight counties. You can join either the North Downs Way or the Downs Link from the hill.

Local parishioners walk each Sunday to St Martha’s Church at the top of the hill. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times. The building here today was built in the Norman period and restored by the Victorians.

Legend has it that the name Martha is a derivation of the word martyr and that the hill was a site where pagan Saxons burned Christians.

St. Martha’s hill has been a site of human activity dating back to the Bronze Age, and there are five, barely discernable, circular banks with external ditches which have been declared Scheduled Ancient Monuments by English Heritage.

The sandy hillside is clothed in woodland. Part of the 60 hectare site has a rare mixture of plant species and is designated a Site of Special Scientific interest. There is also an area called the Arboretum where, in 1900, the owners of the Albury estate planted exotic cedars, spruces and other softwood trees.

On hot summer days, this hill is a place to catch a glimpse of Adder snakes which, though poisonous, are more afraid of us than we are of them and will quickly try to get away if they sense our presence.

In recent years these woods have been managed in part by the traditional method of coppicing hazel, which involves cutting the overgrown bushes down and letting them sprout again. A large area of laurel was cleared as this is not a native woodland plant and was threatening to spread into the more sensitive parts of the woods.

Please be aware that this area can be at extreme risk from fire.

– See more at: http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/reserves/show?id=77#sthash.fNzsUhZ4.dpuf

Chinthurst Hill

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Chinthurst Hill is a quiet and peaceful spot with fine views from its summit. Here you’ll find a stone folly built in the 1930’s, which is now a Grade II listed building. Even from the base of this impressive structure you’ll encounter wonderful views across Guildford, the Chantries, St Martha’s Hill and the North Downs.

Incredibly, man has probably used these hillside woodlands since the Middle Stone Age. Woodland areas were carefully managed to keep them productive, and these particular woodlands have actually been managed for hundreds of years under a system called ‘Coppice with Standards’.

Due to the extensive management of the woodland you’ll find many different species of tree on the hill, including oak, sweet chestnut, hazel and rowan. Currently pigs are being grazed to improve the vegetation balance. Thanks to Margo Williams for this stunning photo –
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pigs dec uned

Surrey Wildlife Trust has been coppicing the hazel, little by little, over the years. A tree is coppiced by cutting at ground level. New shoots soon sprout from the stump, and grow into a dense crop of poles. Traditionally these had a very wide range of uses, including fencing and thatching spars.

Coppicing is also good for wildlife. The wood develops a patchwork of different habitats through the coppicing process. Certain species prefer different ages of coppice. In recently cut open areas, butterflies feed on the carpets of woodland flowers, while the shrubby growth of older bushes provides cover for birds and animals.

A fine display of bluebells can be seen on Chinthurst Hill in the spring. Watch out for roe deer and, if you are walking at dusk in the summer, you may see bats hunting for insects on the wing.

A large area of larch was felled here a decade ago and has been replaced by more traditional native species. Try to identify the trees by their leaves, bark, seeds or, in winter, by their twigs.

To access the Hill, use the car park on the west side of the B2128, north of Wonersh (Wonersh Common Road), and not the private drive from Chinthurst Lane.

A visitor guide and self-guided trail leaflet is available for this reserve. Download your copy here.

– See more at: http://www.surreywildlifetrust.org/reserves/show?id=28#sthash.SU0DqwyZ.dpuf

Newlands Corner

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Newlands Corner and Silent Pool are at the heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Newlands Corner is a popular reserve with superb views of the surrounding countryside. There are 103 hectares (255 acres) of open chalk downland and peaceful woodlands to explore. The woodlands here are mixed, with some deciduous trees like oak and birch, plus evergreen yew. Some of the yew trees are hundreds of years old. The woods shelter roe deer and are home to green woodpeckers, nuthatches and tawny owls.

Newlands Corner lies on the chalk ridge of the North Downs at a height of over 170m (500ft). The Downs command fine views across the Weald to the ridge of the South Downs. Below the slope from Newlands car park lies the village of Albury.

In spring and summer, the chalk grassland is a spectacular carpet of wild flowers. In the past the grasslands were grazed, and nowadays they are mown once a year after the plants have set seed. This keeps the grassland open and stops scrubby plants invading.

About 2 miles to the east lies the Silent Pool, in a shady hollow surrounded by box trees. It was probably an ancient quarry which was filled by the water from scarp slope springs in the chalk downs.

Legend has it that the daughter of a woodman drowned in the pool whilst escaping the seductive advances of King John. In the 19th century it was a popular attraction, and still retains a certain eerie charm today.

These reserves are privately owned by the Albury Estate. Surrey Wildlife Trust manages the area under an access agreement between the Albury Estate and Surrey County Council.

A visitor guide and self-guided trail leaflet is available for this reserve. Download your copy here.

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