HIKING IN ENGLAND – HINDHEAD COMMONS AND THE DEVIL’S PUNCH BOWL

We are all looking for things to do during lockdown and the social distancing times when shops, restaurants, sights, well really anything is closed and we are supposed to stay away from people.

We are getting super bored and frustrated being stuck at home and doing the same over and over again.

BUT, better times are definitely ahead for us here in the UK as more and more nature reserves and countrysides are opening there car parks once more. And I would think this might be the case in other countries as well.

So, if you do not want to be stuck inside get out of the house and visit for example one of the many National Trust or English Heritage sites and go for a nature walk, hike and picnic.

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I recently went to Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl, close to Haselmere in Surrey.

This area is know for its fantastic views and great nature walks in the Surrey Hills. It is actually designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I can definitely see why.

Not long ago the beautiful views were spoiled by the A3, which separated Hindhead Commons from the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The A3 used to operate for nearly 200 years with three lanes of traffic carrying thousands of cars.

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Former A3 Road

In 2007 construction began on the Hindhead Tunnel, which now runs under the Devil’s Punch Bowl. The tunnel was completed in 2011 and the old A3 was demolished.

The road surface was removed and grass and plants such as heather, which is common in this area were planted. The Devil’s Punch Bowl was returned back to nature and visitors can now walk on the site of this former road.

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Since then an abundance of wildlife has returned and flourished in this area and it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Nature managed to bounce back and regenerate. The restoration has also seen rare species of wildlife returning such as woodlark and nightjar or the heath tiger beetle.

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You might ask yourself why this area is called the Devil’s Punch Bowl?

Well, it is said that the devil made the god Thor very angry. As a result, Thor picked up some earth to throw at the devil and created the basin, the Bowl that we see today. 🙂

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Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl are excellent for hiking and walking. There are wide open spaces such as heathland, woodlands for some shade and high points for excellent views.

In fact, this Site of Special Scientific Interest is one of the highest points in Southern England and offers one of the best views in Surrey.

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The variety of footpaths means that you can spend all day long exploring and still have only scratched the surface of all the available hikes.

Beware though, the terrain is now and again uneven, sometimes even slippery and of course it goes uphill and downhill. Therefore, it may be challenging to manage at times. Still, as there are so many footpaths, there is the perfect one for everyone.

There are a few monuments and little sights scattered across the area, information boards informing visitors about the history of the area and plenty of view points, many also with benches where visitors can sit, relax and admire the views.

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The site is managed by the National Trust. There is a car park on site, which is now open again. However, spaces are limited.

There is a cafe and toilets, but those are closed during lockdown right now. Furthermore, a picnic areas is located just next to the car park with tables for people to sit.


  • Opening times: Open dawn to dusk for car park
  • Admission: Free for National Trust members (scan in the membership card for the car park). Non – members car park charges apply currently £1.50 per hour for first 2 hours; £4 for up-to 4 hours; £6 for 5 hours and above.
  • How to get there: By Public Transport – The closest station is Haselmere, but the site is still a 3 miles walk away. By Car – London Road, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6AB
  • For more information please visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hindhead-commons-and-the-devils-punch-bowl

 

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