On a recent visit to Chertsey Musem I picked up a couple of leaflets entitled Runymede Rambles, published by Runymede Council. More recent research indicates that you can download the leaflets (though the quality is not as good as the original printed material).
So, this past Sunday, The Wife and I decided to do walk no. four. An easy 4 mile stroll around Ottershaw, Brox and Rowtown.
We started off in The Castle. Probably the best pub in the area (though I should keep that quiet, otherwise it'll get crowded and then we won't like it so much anymore!). Leaving the car in the car park at around 10.45am we planned to work up an appetite with our walk and return here for lunch before heading back home.
Pausing only to take pictures to document our adventure, we crossed the road and headed off down Brox Lane.
There are plenty of nice houses in the area - and some nicely extravagant price tags to go with them, no doubt. One day, one day, I'll be able to afford to live around here.
We headed down Brox Lane, past the thatched cottage and the private fishing lake where several men were cutting down trees and painting fishing jetties (or are they called 'landings'?).
The lane winds about before cresting a hill and looking out over acres of farmland. But even up here there were houses dotted about. It's a long old walk to the nearest bus-stop and the buses in our neck of the woods aren't too reliable, so you won't get about very easily from here if you don't have a car.
Trudging down the hill, past a mobile home park and some old farm buildings, brings us to Rowtown.
This is another leafy area and pretty area of the borough and we walked past the Bourne Valley garden centre, up the hill towards The Cricketers pub.
This is a pub that used to be quaint and snug many years ago, but last time I frequented it the place had been modernised and was full of families.
[Here's a hint for landlords, breweries and patrons alike: Pubs are for adults. Adults who like to drink and joke and swear and get away from kids. When you have children you have to make sacrifices and one of those sacrifices is having to avoid going into pubs with your brood! And anyway, what happened to the law which forbids children under 14 entering licensed premises - I don't remember it being revoked...] Rant over!
The footpath behind the pub took us across to Hare Hill Open Space (an awful name for a lovely patch of woodland and meadow), then across busy Murray Road and across some fields of horses and over another hill with a tiny copse of trees atop it.
From here the view is down across St. Peter's Way (leading to the M25) and over the office buildings (including EA's European HQ) to St. Peter's Hospital. Although, as you walk along the footpath the occupants certainly try to freak you out by staring at you in a most threatening manner...
A mad dash across the road (the local authority don't seem to have provided for pedestrians here - it's a terribly American state of affairs) takes us into Homewood Park. This is an area which used to be called Botley's Park, after the large palladian manor house whose grounds it once was. Then, before the war, St. Peter's Hospital was situated here. Now parts of the area have been re-landscaped and prestigious offices (including the one mentioned above) are set in a verdant parkland with streams, ponds and huge fir trees. It's all slightly artificial, but very nice nevertheless.
Skirting around the manor house brings us to Stonehill Road - the main road from Chobham to Chertsey if you don't want to negotiate traffic lights and roundabouts. This is what I see in my mind when I think of Surrey woodland. Although it's probably as artificial and managed as Homewood Park when you consider that most of the trees simply hide a prestigious golf and country club from the sight of those of us unable to afford membership!
A left-turn up Foxhills Road brings us to Ottershaw Memorial Fields - the start/end point of the walk if you're following the leaflet properly. Which we weren't.
We walked across the playing fields - being careful not to get involved in a game of football inadvertently - and entered the mature woods at the top of Ether Hill.
Down the other side of the hill, through some thick mature woodland and across Chobham Road. To our right was Ottershaw Chase; another ancient thicket of trees. Past more large houses (one named the Gatehouse was very charming indeed) and we plough on uphill, emerging at Christ Church on the top of Timber Hill.
Now we're on the home stretch. We crossed the road to the car-park and entered the woodlands down the hill, picking up the footpath back to Brox Road and our destination: The Castle.
With a warm welcome from John, the landlord, a pint of London Pride and some great food, it brought an enjoyable couple of hours walking to a hearty conclusion.