Covid-19 Guided Walk for One. Number 1: Denbies Hillside Nature Trail.

Posted on 01/04/2020 By

Number 1: Denbies Hillside Nature Trail

Dear friends

Bertie standing by the interpretation board for Denbies Hillside Nature Trail.

We live in strange times. It seems only right that Mindfully Bertie should bring you some sunshine. There has been plenty this week as we write this. At present, the government is allowing us one walk, cycle ride a day. We thought you could use your daily walk with a guide in beautiful places. So this is our attempt to do just that. Possibly one per fortnight, knowing full well that none of us know what tomorrow brings. Even if the walk is not possible in a few days time, you can keep it for the future or walk it virtually through the pictures. And good luck to us all.

NOTE: In the short spell in which this story was walked and written, it now has to be rewritten or abandoned altogether. The latter was unthinkable. So here is the score.

Denbies Hillside car park, along with all National Trust countryside car parks, is now closed. It is alongside a busy country road. The police were there yesterday, as cars are being parked causing an obstruction. So the walk is from the car park, but how you get there is up to you. If you look at the map, the walk is a circuit and there are other places to access it. Not necessarily by car. We are not encouraging anyone into illegal or inappropriate action. Our wish is that you enjoy the walk, if only by the pictures.

Covid-19 Denbies Hillside Nature Trail

The National Trust has an excellent online leaflet and you are recommended to read it before the walk. The walk itself is described here. Ours is a pictorial walk.

Bertie standing by the interpretation board for Denbies Hillside.

Bertie at the map board of Denbies Hillside.

The yellow route is the Nature Trail.

Bertie sat on a stone donations box. Steer's Field is behind with Greensand Ridge in the distance.

The start. Steer’s Field, with enticing views south towards the Greensand Ridge and beyond to the South Downs. Look carefully in the gap on the horizon and you may see Leith Hill Tower. Highest point in the South East of England.

Photo of a post with an orange way marker for the walk with the number 2 on it.

Follow the orange way markers and you wont go wrong. Check the NT online leaflet for descriptions relating to the numbers.

Bobby, wearing his cap, looking west to Blackdown across rolling green hills and fields.

Looking west to Blackdown.

Looking east over the rolling grassy hills to Dorking, with a way marker in the foreground.

Walking east towards Dorking.

Looking into the woods through a new gate.

Still eastwards down into the woods.

The carriage road, Denbies estate. A beautiful track through a wooded area.

Turning west onto the carriage road. Built for the Denbies estate, to link with their farm at Landbarn.

Out into the open for glorious views of the hillside. There is a railway line on the left, described by Michael Portillo as one of the most beautiful in Britain.

Out into the open for glorious views of the hillside. The railway line (on the left) described by Michael Portillo as one of the most beautiful in Britain.

Periwinkle. A beautiful violet blue five long-petalled flower with dark green leaves in clusters of four.

Periwinkle.

Rustic wooden-edged steps up through the forest.

Short cut back to the car park. Steep climb. Even steeper, when you consider Bobby and the NT volunteers built it.

Way marker No 3 along the forest trail.

Way marker No 3. Check the NT Denbies Hillside Nature Trail leaflet.

Pathway coming out of the wooded area to a more open vista, with an historic fence to the left.

See the historic fencing (details later).

A blazing yellow gorse bush to the right of the path, with open lands to the left.

Gorse.

Old Man's Beard (Clematis). White "fluff" on an otherwise sparse twiggy frame.

Old Man’s Beard (Clematis).

The pathway bounded by the fence on the left and wooded area to the right.

That fencing again!

The pathway bounded by the fence on the left and wooded area to the right.

Stop and look. Listen to the birds. Watch out for Buzzards, Red Kite maybe, Kestrels, Ravens – even a Goshawk.

Cast iron post of the historic fencing dating back to 1860. Made by Morton of Liverpool, whose name is cast into the top of the post.

The historic fencing was installed in 1860 and is till intact after 160 years. The posts are set on sockets in the ground. Even the cables are original. Morton of Liverpool.

Cast iron gate still in use on the original 1860 fencing.

1860 original.

Somewhat tasteless modern fencing in order to comply with modern stock-proofing regulations - including two lines of barbed wire!

In places with modern regulations and conditions to uphold, the NT has been forced to erect modern stock-proof fencing.

Wooden sculpture with butterflies carved into it.

Still heading west on the carriage road, you come to this magnificent sculpture. Read the website all about it. But in short it represents the symbiotic life story of the Adonis blue butterfly which this hillside is famous for.

All represented in the wooden sculpture: From ant to pupa to horseshoe vetch to …

From ant to pupa to horseshoe vetch to …

Close up of two of the carved Butterflies. Minus antennae that are constantly nicked and no longer replaced.

… BUTTERFLY. Minus antennae that are constantly nicked and no longer replaced.

Read all about this here!

The path, rutted with tree routes. A way marker on the left and a gate to an open field in the distance.

Still heading west. Notice way marker. Soon to turn right. Uphill and back to the hillside.

Amber… A wonderful light-coloured pointer with pale amber-coloured flecks, enjoying the trail. She has bolder amber brown patches on her head.

Amber… A wonderful pointer, enjoying the trail.

A hollowed out piece of tree trunk cut up on the ground.

Seen better days.

A wooden gate across the path. Way marker post No 5 on the left.

Heading north-east, back onto the hillside. Position 5 for the NT Denbies Hillside Nature Trail leaflet.

Several Yew trees seemingly eminating from the one trunk.

A lot of Yew trees …

Wild Violet in the ground.

… and wild Violet.

Heading eastward, uphill along the path. Dorking to the right.

Heading eastward, uphill. Dorking to the right.

Beautiful Blackthorn in blossom. A mass of delicate white flowers.

Beautiful Blackthorn.

Base of an old Yew tree. A mass of gnarled roots peeking above the surface.

Snarled old Yew.

Looking across the rolling fields to Dorking in the distance.

There’s Dorking. Our home town.

A view across the path towards the rolling fields. A wooden gate is across the path on the left.

Through the gate, uphill into the woods.

A somewhat out of focus picture of a cowslip.

First Cowslip (rotten picture). Thousands later.

Pulsatilla. A beautiful flower with purple petals in a narrow glass shape, with yellow stamen.

Pulsatilla. Just one. Should it be here?

Lots of fallen trees in the woods. Victims of storms in times gone by.

Lots of fallen trees in the woods. Victims of storms in times gone by…

Fallen tree still alive and regenerating from the roots still attached to the ground.

… but still alive and regenerating from the roots still attached to the ground.

Root ball of fallen tree still attached to the ground.

See how shallow the soil is here on the North Downs overlaying chalk. Instead of downwards, the roots go sideways and are vulnerable in storms to being ripped up.

Primrose.

Primrose.

Wood Anemone.

Wood Anemone.

Lots more Wood Anemones in the woods here.

Lots more Wood Anemones in the woods here.

The Bluebell wood. Nothing at the moment, but two, maybe, three weeks time this will be awash with bluebells.

Bluebell wood. Two, maybe, three weeks.

Back to Steer's Field now. On the North Downs Way.

Back to Steer’s Field now. On the North Downs Way.

Plain bench overlooking the North Downs, with the inscription: Pilgrims come wind come weather. Dedicated to …

Pilgrims come wind come weather. Dedicated to …

Inscription on the bench, which reads: In loving celebration of John and Diana Hargreaves.

… The Reverend John Hargreaves and Diana. He was once Canon of Sevenoaks. When they moved in next door to Bobby and I they became…
Cannon And Ball! And lovely neighbours.

A robin bringing a splash of colour amongst the dead looking bushes.

There’s a video of this robin singing near the end of the walk. For another story.

The end of the walk. St Barnabas. A small church, with a 700 feet steeple seen for miles around. “The Church on the North Downs Way”.

The end of the walk. St Barnabas. A small church, with a 700 feet steeple seen for miles around. “The Church on the North Downs Way”.

First butterfly of the summer. Peacock (rotten picture)! Lovely butterfly.

First butterfly of the summer. Peacock (rotten picture)! Lovely butterfly.

Photograph of notice announcing the closure of the car park at Denbies Hillside due to the Coronavirus.

Don’t forget. one day we will meet again. Maybe on Denbies Hillside. Hope so.

Lighting a candle to Diddley

A tealight candle in a glass holder amongst colourful spring flowers lit for Diddley.

——————-

CountrysideMindfulnessNational Trust    


  1. Avatar Krissy says:

    That’s lovely – great photos – just the ticket – to go for a virtual walk.

  2. Avatar Linda Brownlee says:

    Oh I enjoyed that! I feel like I e been on the walk myself! I’ve just spotted a first cowslip in our park too! Thank you for taking me with you! Linda

  3. Avatar Kate green says:

    Thanks Bob xx

  4. Avatar Phil Barnett says:

    Thank you for reminding us what a beautiful part of the world we live in.

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