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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Escape to the Country: The South Downs

Although I love living in London, one thing I struggle with is the lack of countryside (inevitable when you live in a big city).

We're lucky in that there are a huge number of parks to visit: Richmond, Hyde, Green and Battersea to name a few; but sometimes I yearn to be out in the countryside stomping through a muddy lane with no one but the birds (and M!) to keep me company. I love walking in the Lake District and Cornwall, but clearly they're far too far away for a day's walking.

My need for a proper walk therefore took me to Google as I'm hopelessly clueless when it comes to the surrounding geography of London. After a quick examination of Google maps I found that the South Downs is a National Park and is just over 1 hour's drive away.

We knew the weather today was meant to be amazing, so we decided to ditch London in favour of a long walk in the country. After some more googling we found instructions for a 5 mile walk starting at Fernhurst, which is close to Guildford. If you haven't got a car, you can easily get a train from central London to Haslemere where lots of walks start. The ramblers website has lots of useful information.

We got instructions for our walk from which I can't recommend highly enough. The instrutctions were so easy to follow - we didn't go wrong once and it took us on a route with amazing scenery. The other thing worth mentioning is that you could easily turn this route into a pub walk as Fernhurst has a quintiessentially english pub called the Red Lion, where there are pub benches over looking the village green.

Unsurprisingly due to recent weather, the start of the walk was exceptionally muddy. We definitely needed our walking boots. I got a bit fed up of the never ending mud and took myself off piste. Probably not the best idea as I got totally stuck!

The lesser-spotted Hazel in her natural habitat
We climbed up Black Down which is one of the highest points of the South Downs.

I was pretty tired after that so I took advantage of a conveniently fallen tree to have a rest...

The walk also took me past some of my future houses (I wish!)

More pics of our walk...

After 3 hours of walking, we ended up back at the start and went for lunch at the Red Lion.

It was literally heaven sitting outside in March eating steak and kidney pudding. Happy, happy Hazel.

So yes, any time you're wanting to escape London, try the South Downs - it feels like you're a million miles away.


  1. I absolutely love the South Downs, I used to do little weekend trips along the route and stay at B&Bs along the way. That website is great. I also used the ordinance survey map reader app on the iPhone (if you are bad with directions like me!) where you can download whichever parts of the map you need (though there is a small fee) and your iPhone uses its compass and can direct you on the route if needed/if you get lost. Looks like an idyllic route you took (love the photos too)!

    1. We had such a great time. I really can't wait to return and check out other walking routes. Thanks so much for the advice re iPhone app. I will hunt it out!