Silent Pool, near Albury
A month for amour, the 14th is an opportune moment to visit one of Surrey's most beautiful areas, the Surrey Hills. And, located just near to the stunning Newlands Corner, Silent Pool is the perfect place to start. MATTHEW WILLIAMS reveals more
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2009
Why pay a visit... The perfect launch pad for a day in the Surrey Hills, Silent Pool is a lake of lovely clear water at the foot of the North Downs. Found just off the A25, east of Guildford, there is a car park, so access is easy, and being a public spot, it is open all year round (though, at this time of year, hats and scarves are de rigueur). For those wanting to explore further, Newlands Corner is just a short trip down the road and offers spectacular views across Surrey. Owned by the Albury Estate and managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust, Silent Pool is well worth a visit at any time of year. What you can expect... On an early sunny morning, it is worth sitting quietly and watching for kingfishers. It is a wonderfully quiet area, perfect for contemplation, nature spotting and, weather permitting, a romantic picnic. Once upon a time, there was a boathouse on the lake's edge but this was fire damaged after someone left tealights burning in the rafters. The boathouse was removed and has not been replaced since, so your picnic will have to be al fresco. Perhaps best to leave the candles at home... Special interest... Silent Pool and its neighbour Sherbourne Pond are spring fed, hence their clarity - the water doesn't get the opportunity to pick up sediment as a stream-fed pond would. Bubbles can be seen at the upper end of Silent Pool where the springs rise. Surrey Wildlife Trust is currently getting quotations for controlling the invasive Australian swamp stonecrop, which Silent Pool struggles with. However, it is a problem that is expected to cost thousands to bring under control. This introduced plant probably arrived here when someone carelessly dumped the contents of their aquarium in the ponds. Tell your friends... It is just a short journey from Silent Pool to the historic and highly-rated Stephan Langton Inn in the hamlet of Friday Street - the perfect place to try a local ale after a long walk through the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Stephan Langton Inn is named after the reforming Archbishop of Canterbury, who set out to limit the excesses of King John in the early 13th century. While there, you could perhaps catch up with a little Tennyson or Christie, both famous writers are connected with Silent Pool. Lord Tennyson was a regular visitor, as recorded in his son Hallam's Memoir, and Agatha Christie famously faked her own death nearby. And the biggest secret of all? According to local folklore, a woodcutter's daughter was bathing in Silent Pool one day when a nobleman rode by on horseback. Noticing the attractive young lady, he approached her, hoping to entice her from the water. But his advances shocked her, and in her panic she soon found she was out of her depth and getting into difficulty. Her brother heard her cries and came running to her aid, and started wading out to save her. The nobleman fled, to avoid further commotion, accidentally dropping his hat. The woodcutter's son, not being a strong swimmer, panicked himself and he and his exhausted sister drowned. Later that evening, the anxious woodcutter was searching for his son and daughter and found their lifeless bodies, arms still entwined, in the pool. He noticed the hat lying on the bank and apparently it bore the crest of Prince John, later to be crowned King John I.
Silent Pool, A25 Shere Road, near Albury
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