Sometimes you just gotta get out of the city you know? When life is feeling a bit busy and overwhelming, then getting out into nature for a good long walk can do wonders. Within London itself, you can get to a variety of parks and although they are lovely, I do love getting out of the city. Until recently, we have been to a few spots around Surrey, but when I was driving to Southampton on the A3 the other day, I saw the sign for the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
I was interested to find out what it was, as there aren’t as many national trust places round here. After having a quick google, it looked like the ideal place to go for a stroll, so one chilly Saturday we bundled into the car and headed down. The Devils Punch Bowl itself is marked as a place of outstanding natural beauty and it ties directly into Hindhead Common as well. As I’m in South West London, it took us less than an hour to get there and was an easy drive on the A3 all the way down. Public transport looks a bit more tricky, but you can get the bus or get the train to Haslemere then take a 3 mile stroll!
Parking and Eating
Once there, they have a pretty huge car park. As it is a National Trust site, it does cost to park – around £4 and you need change. The little cafe there was kind enough to break a note for me, and of course if you are a NT member then parking is free.
Before we set off on the walk, we stopped off in the cafe for a quick drink. It was lovely and such a good location to pop into before or after your walk. We went for hot chocolates and little home made sausage rolls. I do love me a good homely cafe – time to warm up as it ended up being freezing that day!
Once there, there are about 4 signed walks all of different lengths – from twenty minutes to 5km and 7km jaunts. We decided to go for the 5km trail which loops around back to where we started. The walks themselves are really well sign posted so you can just follow the arrows throughout the woods. The paths themselves were all pretty muddy, what with all the rain – I think if you head back in summer then it would be a bit dryer!
That said, when we went it was really quiet! We saw a few dog walkers out at the beginning of the walk, but as we went further into the woods, it quietened off and we didn’t see anyone for over an hour. The walk took us to the top of the Punch bowl then down through the woods and bridleways. There are a few old buildings dotted throughout which it winds past as well. The longer walk does the same loop but then continues the other way when you finish.
Overall, loved the walk! It is so nice to get out into the woods and wilderness. Although the trees aren’t yet lush, the countryside was still gorgeous, and once we went down into the valley, we were well protected from the wind. It really blew out the cobwebs and made me feel a bit more positive!
The punch bowl itself is a large natural amphitheater where essential there are some large hills which all centre on a natural depression. You can go up the hills and also see a really good view all the way across Surrey. The area actually used to be where the old A3 road was, back in the 1700s. They carved a big road out winding through the hills – it was super interesting to see as you could totally imagine old horse and carriages winding through the valleys before all the main roads and towns were built.
The whole area has a few good stories to tell, including stories of highwaymen and murder on the old A3 which certainly doesn’t happen today! There are a whole heap of little plaques with information about the area and full of tales for what the land used to be used for. There is also a lot on how the Devils punch bowl actually got its name – all about the devil pulling large bits of the Earth out in order to throw them at Thor. Always interesting to know the meaning behind things!
Overall, if you’re looking for a nice walk just outside of London, then this is a great option. It actually inspired me to finally get a National Trust membership – it’s only £31 for under 26s as seeing as I only have a couple of years left, I figured it was time to invest in one! You can free entry to most of the houses and free parking which will come in handy if we want to continue little strolls like these.
Do you have any other walks near London I should try? Where do you like to walk near you?