|As the Chairman of the Oxshott Heath Conservators it would be very easy to restrict an article such as this to Oxshott Heath, as those who walk there on a regular basis know that it is possible to find different paths to walk on each day and that there is considerable variety of woodland/heathland to be seen there.|
|For those who are not familiar with the Heath, it is referred to on the FEDORA website (www.fedora.org.uk) as the "Treasure on your Doorstep" and, whilst it is used by many local residents, others never step foot there.|
|In 1999 FEDORA asked local schools to put forward ideas for celebrating the Millennium in our village. One of the ideas put forward by a pupil of Danes Hill School was for a Trail 2000 on Oxshott Heath. Whilst the original idea envisaged an adventure playground as well as a trail through the woods, the Conservators were unable to consider the adventure playground as the Heath is regulated by English Nature as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).|
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Trail 2000 was marked out during 2000 by a series of posts around the route. These were manufactured by The Lower Mole Countryside Management Project and paid for by FEDORA. The posts show the route in either direction which means that there are effectively two routes, as a footpath looks entirely different when walked in the opposite direction. The Trail is approximately 2000 metres long and provides the walker with a variety of different aspects of the Heath. The Conservators have also placed maps on notice boards at each of the access points onto the Heath to show this route and other footpaths on the Heath.
However, in addition to Oxshott Heath there are many other possible routes for the leisure walker starting out from Oxshott. In particular, the other large area of land in the village that the public can gain access to is Prince's Coverts. Permission to walk or ride on Prince's Coverts can be obtained by applying to The Crown Estate Office, The Great Park, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 2HT who will provide a key to the locked access gates upon payment of a small deposit. They will also provide a very useful guide which not only gives a map of the footpaths but describes in considerable detail the features of the area. From Oxshott one can walk towards Claygate and Chessington, with the Star public house close at hand.
|Another good walk with a pub at the end is to walk from Oxshott Heath, over Sandy Lane onto Esher Common, over the A3 by one of the footbridges, past Black Pond, across the old Porstmouth Road to the Ledges above the River Mole and then across West End Common to the Prince of Wales pub at West End. One is guaranteed to have developed a good thirst upon arrival. Elmbridge Borough Council provide a very useful leaflet entitled The Esher Commons which gives a detailed map of Oxshott Heath, Esher Common, Fairmile Common, West End Common and Arbrook Common, an area of 885 acres which is slightly larger than Prince's Coverts.|
It is also possible to walk westwards from Oxshott in the direction of Stoke D'Abernon by following the footpath behind Blundel Lane that runs through the old brick fields north of Polyapes Scout Camp. This then borders Knowle Hill Park and leads to Stoke Road. Cross the main road and walk down through the Tilt to the River Mole which can be crossed at Ash Ford. Boots or even waders may be necessary in wet weather. The footpath then leads eventually to Downside where The Cricketers awaits.
I would not like the reader to think that pubs are an essential part of our walks but after a certain amount of physical exercise it is very gratifying to be able to enjoy some refreshment.
Details of other local walks can be obtained from The Lower Mole Countryside Management Project at Highway House, 21 Chessington Road, West Ewell, Surrey KT17 1TT, who publish a number of very informative leaflets including:
For the more adventurous there is the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP) which is 150 miles long in total but is divided into three groups of walks. The group south of the River Thames is known as the Blue Group and is divided into eight connecting walks in the countryside to the south of London. Details of all of these can be obtained by sending a cheque for £6 made payable to Surrey County Council together with an A5 SAE with 50p postage to Downlands Project at the same address as the Lower Mole Project above.
I hope that this brief article has identified some interesting opportunities for taking leisure walks close to our homes in Oxshott and will encourage residents to enjoy our local countryside.
The expenses of Oxshott Heath are largely met by donations from the Subscribers to the Heath and this helps to pay for the wages of our full-time Warden who keeps the Heath tidy. We are always looking for new subscribers and anybody who is interested should contact our Hon. Treasurer, Ian Dilks, on 01372 844535 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the donation form available on this website.