Covid-19 Guided Walk for One. Number 7: The Watercress Walk
The Watercress Walk.
Kingfisher Farm Shop and Watercress Farm, Abinger Hammer.
Everyone is affected by the pandemic. Some far worse than others. Many have had to change their lives completely. Find new ways of enjoying themselves. Keeping sane and, most importantly, keeping fit. One thing we have done here at Mindfully Bertie is share our love of the beautiful world in this series of walks. They have been well received and there will be more. Even one from Austria. “The Schlussweg” (the Waterfall Way) which Bobby and I have done a number of times. This week’s walk is local and has a purpose. We knew that we would have to start shopping again, but didn’t fancy the big supermarkets or towns. We remembered the farm shop at Abinger Hammer and that is where we buy all our fresh produce now. It feels very safe. The next step is Waitrose. We are eternally grateful to friend Anne who has done all our shopping since lockdown. But, to be honest, he actually misses the experience of going to Waitrose as it stood him in good stead when he found himself on his own.
You can drive to the farm shop, but we have found a brilliant alternative in a circular/figure of eight walk to go shopping. Say 45 minutes each way. Or more, if you admire the view. The walk starts in the National Trust Car Park at Abinger Roughs.
The Watercress Walk. In peach colour.
Abinger Roughs National Trust Car Park.
Leave the car park by the main path heading due west.
You will soon reach the Witches Broom Tree. Children (and bears) love it. The best tree to climb in the world. Unless you know different.
The grandchildren love it. There are five in this picture, plus a great grandson.
Shortly after the Witches Broom Tree you join another main path and the two become Route 22 of the National Cycle Network. Bobby was once the Sustrans Ranger for this section of it. Continue west, uphill at one stage, and across some open heath. Stay on the main path until you walk downhill with glorious views to this post and a gate.
Go through the gate and along the path to Hackhurst Lane. Both these waymarkers have a story. When the local authority signed Route 22 with large rectangular blue signs they were immediately vandalised. A solution was found in the small blue sign above that was actually designed by graphic artist Diddley. The signs have now been there ten years and never been damaged. Not surprisingly, we think of Diddley every time we pass them.
The other sign is for Piney Copse, which was given to the Trust by the author E M Forster who lived in Abinger. If you fancy a short diversion you can follow that for a short way but then return to Hackhurst Lane.
Hackhurst Lane turn left downhill. Notice the big blue rectangular sign. This one is roadside and was never touched. Across the Roughs they were all vandalised. In a way, we don’t blame them. They were pretty intrusive. The route was always popular with cyclists. It’s wide enough to be fine. Live and let live.
And so to Abinger Hammer. A delightful village, dominated by the A25. A busy road. Before you leave Hackhurst Lane look right. The former village pub is now a cookery school.
Turn left. Choose somewhere safe to cross. The farm shop is on the other side of the road. The first and most prominent feature is “Jack the Blacksmith” striking his clock on the hour.
The inscription reads “For you at home I part the day / work and play twixt sleep and meals”.
And on the other side the inscription on the clock tower reads “By me you know fast to go”.
The clock has been hit by high sided vehicles once or twice. Thankfully the bus is a single decker. It’s an amazing section of very windy, very picturesque A road. To widen it would destroy the village.
Here’s the clock striking 12. Midday. (Click on the picture).
The clock was given in memory of Lord Farrer of Abinger to the village and represents the Iron industry and the role the industry played in the industrial past. The Tillingbourne River, which flows through the middle of the green in front of you, was once enchannelled in the 16th century into a hammer pond to provide power for Abinger Hammer Mill. The Mill/Forge closed in 1787 and was subsequently adapted to grow watercress. The whole village and its surroundings is part of the Surrey Hills AONB. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Being one of the first, created in 1958.
Here is the Green, with the Tillingbourne running through the middle. A wonderful place for children to try to catch sticklebacks, with nets sold in the Post Office. There is a cricket pitch and once a year it becomes home to the Teddy Bears’ Picnic, which has been featured in Mindfully Bertie.
Teddy Bears’ Picnic, 2017. Teddy Bears’ Picnic 2018.
The Teddy Bears Picnic Duck Race. May 2018 (sadly cancelled this year).
The Post Office is also a very nice tea room.
Abinger Hammer Tearoom. And Post Office.
This old road sign mystifies Bobby. Westcott is Westcott in every single piece of information that we have sourced. Only on this road sign is it Wescott. Anyone know why, or is it just misspelt?
The village sign, like the clock, needs a bit of TLC.
Griffon too? On the plaque on the gable. This is the very attractive village school. They fought to keep it open for many years, but it finally closed due to shortage of children in 2009.
And finally. Here we are at the Kingfisher Farm Shop and Watercress Farm.
Growing Watercress since 1854. (He has gone mad on Watercress and Tomato sandwiches. Tip. Keep the Watercress in an airtight box in the fridge to keep it fresh for a little while. He also can’t resist Ice Creams. Didn’t have one for nearly six months, but now it’s Strawberry and Clotted Cream each week. Yummy yummy).
Go back to the Farm Shop entrance and walk east alongside the A25 towards Dorking for a few minutes. There is a footpath. The first bus stop is for Paddington Farm.
Look across the road and you will see the footpath leading uphill back to the Roughs. Take great care crossing the road.
Before you cross the road, you might like a little 100 yard detour south to Paddington Mill. Now a private residence. I thought it might be “him”, but then, of course, he came from Peru.
Up the atmospheric sunken path for a few minutes. Through a gate and back into the open in the glorious Roughs. Dog walkers should note that Belted Galloway cattle are sometimes in certain fields. The gates will always have signs.
The big boy. Belted Galloway bull. Amanda the farm lady told us he was a big softy, but had been very naughty. Leaning against a wire fence until it collapsed, she caught up with him in the middle of a field of Maize. His female entourage didn’t follow him.
Just one more gate and you are back on the main path you left earlier. Turn right. Follow the Route 22 signs. Ignoring the fork to the Witches Broom Tree until you reach the Wilberforce Memorial.
The Wilberforce Memorial. The uphill path goes straight back to the car park.
Heading up the path look to your left. There are two benches. We could be sitting on the far one. But probably not. It’s Diddley’s, of course. A lovely place for a picnic. A few happy thoughts as you look over Diddley’s View. We have written stories here. Read books. Had breakfast and so on. If you do go to the bench we would love a picture of you there. One day there will be an updated Bench blog and you could be in it.
Lighting a Candle for Diddley at the Witches Broom Tree.
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