Surrey walk around Horsell Common

Enjoying a day exploring Horsell Common (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Enjoying a day exploring Horsell Common (Photo: Matthew Williams) - Credit: Archant

Discover the area made famous by sci-fi author, HG Wells, who imagined his aliens landing in a sandpit on Horsell Common. This stroll, however, is a little more serene…


Start: Horsell Common car park – which is the closest one to the Six Crossroads Roundabout.

Grid ref: TQ012 604

Postcode for sat-nav: GU21 4BY

Length of walk: Four miles. Allow about two hours for this walk.

Food and drink: While The Hangar Café at Fairoaks Airport, The Cricketers Pub and The Red Lion are all nearby, there’s something extra-special waiting at the newly-expanded Waters Edge café.

While you’re there: Head into the nearby town to discover Wells in Woking – there’s a whole host of events planned and further trails to explore to mark 150 years since the birth of the author.

Guided walk: The Surrey Hills Society, who provided this walk, will be repeating their North Downs Way walk (originally done on a very wet day in January) on Sunday August 7. For details of this free event, see

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The route

1 This walk starts from the free Horsell Common car park on the A245 near to the Six Crossroads Roundabout, just north of Woking. There are several car parks on this road so make sure you park in the one closest to the roundabout. From the car park, take the path directly opposite the vehicle entrance, follow this path to the centre of the common and you will pass an information board on the left. Stay on the main path and ignore any smaller paths to the left and right.

2 When you come to a bench ahead, go through the gap in the ridge alongside it and head down a small path into an open sandy clearing. From this clearing, take the path heading diagonally right. Following the path ahead, you will pass the sandpits and lake to the left. Keep in the same direction and you will reach a bench carved with the name ‘Hanning Seat’.

3 Continue on and after just a short distance you will come to a T-junction – keep left here. Follow the path bending left and carry on ahead past a couple of tall wooden barriers. You will come to a crossroads with more barriers – turn right here.

4 Keep ahead on this straight path and you will pass alongside two vehicle barriers. Turn left immediately after the second barrier and follow the gravel drive with houses to the right. At the end of the houses, on the stone track, head back onto the common. At the next junction, keep going straight ahead, passing a house to the left. A few paces later, you will come to the wooden posts and noticeboards marking the entrance to McLaren Park.

5 Follow the main path through the park and soon you will get your first view of the McLaren Technology Centre (where the F1 team and commercial supercar arm are based). Continue on the path as it now swings right, following the curve of the formal lake. As you draw level with the main building, fork left, cross a bridge over the river and through a gate. When you emerge out of the trees, you will see Fairoaks Airport.

6 Keep on the path, passing the windsock. Enter a section of woodland and follow this path to the T-junction with the road. Turn left alongside Chertsey Road. Cross over the main entrance road for the airport. Turn left into Youngsthroat Lane. Follow the road onto the bridleway with the fenced horse paddocks on the right. On the left, you will pass by the end of the airport runway. Cross the footbridge and go through the gate, staying on the bridleway. At the far side of the field, pass through the gate and cross over the larger wooden footbridge.

7 Follow the stone bridleway and at the end of the long straight section bear left over a small stream. This is the re-entry point for Horsell Common.

8 Bear right onto the bridleway marked with a blue arrow. Follow this path along the edge of the common close to the fence boundary on the right. You will come to a major crossroad. Turn left here and head towards the centre of the common. Turn right, just after the pond, to retrace your steps back to the car park.



• Author HG Wells, who lived in nearby Maybury, used this sandpit as the landing site for alien space craft in his novel War of the Worlds. For more on that, click here.

• In 1966, the Horsell Common Preservation Society purchased the site at a price of £1 per acre and still owns and manages the site today. The common covers 880 acres.

• The headquarters of the McLaren Group opened in 2003 and was designed by the renowned architect Norman Foster.

• Fairoaks Airport was opened in 1931. It was used by the military from 1936. Over 6,000 Tiger Moth pilots trained here. Today, it is used as a maintenance airfield and also hosts many light aircraft.