Surrey walk around Shamley Green village
- Credit: Archant
Enjoy a gentle walk around the picturesque village of Shamley Green. Although small, it boasts two great pubs, a café, a shop, some famous residents – and quite a few links with cats…
• Start: Shamley Green cricket green.
• Grid Reference: TQ032 439
• Length of walk: Two miles and steep in one section. It will take about one hour in total.
• Food /Drink: There are two pubs to choose from – The Red Lion and The Bricklayers Arms – as well as the The Speckledy Hen café.
• Whilst you are there: Take a 10- minute drive and you’ll find the lovely market village of Cranleigh, which is home to an excellent variety of independent shops, pubs and restaurants, and a thriving arts centre.
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This walk starts from the centre of the village. Parking can be difficult but there is some around the green and some in the side streets. From the green, head up past The Bricklayers Arms on the B2128 towards Cranleigh. Cross over the road where the path runs out and turn left through an old iron kissing gate to the churchyard. The church was built in 1863 by Charles Henry Howell, who was also the architect for County Hall in Kingston.
Turn left at the church and, once past it, you will see a gate opening onto a public footpath. Before you leave the churchyard, if you are interested, follow the hedge line down to the bottom of the churchyard to a tall white gravestone belonging to EH Shepard, the illustrator of the famous Winnie the Pooh books. He was a long-term resident of the village and many of his illustrations are from the local area. Once through the gate, turn left along the narrow footpath, which opens out between two large fields. Over to the left, on Chinthurst Hill, you will spy the last folly built in England, in the 1930s, by architect Edwin Lutyens.
After going through a kissing gate, you will turn right for 200 yards before coming upon a tarmac avenue. Keep right and walk down through the avenue of chestnuts. At the T-junction, turn left and go down past Reel Hall, which dates back to the 17th century. A ‘reel’ is a small stream, which you will cross.
Here you meet a road – Woodhill Lane. Turn left and then almost immediately right at the sign marking the bridle path. This path now ascends sharply for about 500 yards through a pretty coppiced woodland. Towards the top of the hill, you will meet a Y-junction with signposting.
Take the left fork, which is the smaller path. Some 50 yards on your right, you will be rewarded with an amazing view towards Hascombe Hill. Continue along this narrow (sometimes overgrown) path to a stile, which again looks out over an impressive view of the Surrey Hills. From the stile, head down the hill, following the fence line, and turn left at the bottom, clearly marked as the footpath. A tarmac drive and the path merge after the next stile.
Turn left and, at the bottom of the hill, turn right onto Woodhill Lane. This road will take you back to the village past Tanyard Farm, childhood home of Sir Richard Branson – founder of the Virgin Group.
This walk is reported to have been used many times by the celebrated poet TS Eliot, who wrote, among other things, the poem about cats that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is based on. Locals say an old lady lived on the hill with hundreds of cats and it’s what inspired Elliott to write the poem.
Shamley Green was the focus of a BBC television documentary on cats’ behaviour in 2013. The village was chosen because of the high population of cats living here – one of the highest, in fact, in the country.
The world-famous film director Sir Alfred Hitchcock named his production company ‘Shamley Productions’ after the village where he had lived. Other famous residents have included Sir Harry Secombe, artist and TV presenter Tony Hart, guitar hero Eric Clapton and business tycoon Sir Richard Branson.