Fringe Box



Guildford Ramblings: Last One Of The Year, Abinger Common

Published on: 6 Jan, 2015
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2015

Words and pictures by Kay Hiatt

Thirty one cheerful members arrived in good time for this New Year’s Eve day ramble, starting at the Abinger Hatch pub, not far off the A25 Dorking Road.

The weather was dry and chilly, and we had already been welcomed to the area by a large red kite gliding overhead!

Which way to go?

Which way to go?

As usual we had a brief introduction to the walk – this time from one of the two walk leaders – Trish, who informed us that we were about to walk along public footpaths running through the Wotton Estate, bought by George Evelyn in 1579. The most famous member of the family, born in 1620 at Wotton House, was John Evelyn, the diarist and landscape gardener.

We would walk around the Deerleap wood and then through the Abinger Roughs, an area of grassland and mixed woodland owned by the National Trust. Some of the large oak trees are over 300 years old. In the 1870s, Charles Darwin, the famous naturalist, actually walked on the Roughs while staying at Abinger Hall.

Bridge over the Tillingbourne.

Bridge over the Tillingbourne.

We set off on this 5.5-mile walk through gently sloping woodland, then over and alongside the banks of the Tillingbourne.

Then past the church of St John The Evangelist Wotton, standing alone on a sloping hilltop, with views over the North Downs.

St John's Church, Wooton.

St John’s Church, Wooton.

The church was founded in the Saxon period, the tower and chancel are Norman, and the rest is 13th century, with one notable exception; to the north side of the north aisle is the red-brick Evelyn Chapel, burial place of generations of Evelyns from Wotton House. The most famous burial within the chapel is that of John Evelyn, who died in 1706.

A bit of clipping does no harm.

A bit of clipping does no harm.

Walking along a rather narrow path bordered by a hedge, one of our working party of ‘footpath volunteers’ couldn’t resist clipping some of the overhanging branches! Then through a field of swede or turnip plants (there was some good-humoured debate over which it was!)

Swedes or turnips?

Swedes or turnips?

The 16th-century Leasers Barn.

The 16th-century Leasers Barn.

Another interesting feature of this ramble was the 16th-century Leasers Barn that we passed, preserved by the National Trust and still used to rear livestock in the traditional way. And it was noted, with much pride, that several of the six stiles on our ramble had been replaced with ‘kissing gates’ fitted by our own members, offering a much safer and easier option than getting over stiles.

Recently installed 'kissing gate'.

Recently installed ‘kissing gate’.

A most successful walk, followed by a delicious lunch at the Abinger Hatch pub.

Anyone in Guildford interested in joining The Ramblers should visit their website at

Kay Hiatt is publicity officer for the Guildford Ramblers

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