Hambledon and Hydon's Ball

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Start: Hambledon Church Distance: 2.1 miles (3.3 km) Climbing: 80 metres
Grid Ref: SU 97018 38971 Time: 1-2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Hydon's Ball
Start: Hambledon Church Distance: 2.1 miles (3.3 km)
Climbing: 80 metres Grid Ref: SU 97018 38971
Time: 1-2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

The Walk: This walk through a relatively untrodden part of Surrey takes you on a gentle climb to Haydon's Ball, a quiet, wooded hilltop with fine views over the surrounding countryside. The walk starts by St Peter's Church near the scattered village of Hambledon. From a sandy undulating bridleway a pleasant view opens out to the left of tree-clad Hydon's Ball, and over your left shoulder is an impressive panorama of rolling fields. On the right, what appears to be a large and remarkably preserved long barrow, or ancient burial mound, is surprisingly, the bank of a local water storage reservoir.

Hambledon ChurchHambledon Church
Hambledon HeathHambledon Heath

After walking down a leafy, sunken, sandy path and passing a pumping station, the route starts to climb gently through a wood of tall Scots pines, then more steeply to reach the top of Hydon's Ball. At the summit, a viewpoint on National Trust property, is a large, stone seat commemorating a principal founder of the trust, Octavia Hill, who died in 1912. From here you glimpse through the trees the open countryside beyond. In summer the fine views from the top is partly obscured by trees on this thickly wooded hill. It is a walk that is especially suitable early in the year when the trees are bare, and in frosty weather the mainly sandy paths and bridleways are less likely to be muddy.

Near the end of the walk, almost level with St Peter's churchyard, there is an ancient limekiln. until fairly recent times, lime, produced from chalk, was the universal agricultural fertiliser. The well preserved Hambledon Kiln, resembling a small tunnel in a brick wall, was in use until the end of the nineteenth century. When in use the fire would have burned about five feet within the tunnel.

The small, hillside church of St Peter was rebuilt in 1840 and inside little remains of the earlier church. Whether you can gain access to the church or not, the churchyard must not be missed. Here there are two tremendous yew trees. One is a fine straight tree of about 18 feet round, the other is a mighty 30 feet in circumference. Its eerie hollow could hold as many as 12 people and children simply love to stand inside. A local legend says that if you walk around the inside of this tree thirteen times widdershins (anti-clockwise) a witch will appear. Go on, have a try.

Acknowledgment: Text derived from the Out and Out Series; Discovering the Countryside on Foot. Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia.

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