The deep holloways that lend this route its character are, in spring, little worlds of enchantment, alive with birdsong, the skittering of squirrels, and leaves unfurling with almost audible vigor.
Ancient, sun-dappled and – thanks to deep layers of litter – delightfully springy underfoot, these paths are incredibly atmospheric.
Starting from the Jolly Farmer pub in Bramley, turn left, cross the mini-roundabout and turn left up the surfaced bridleway.
As you pass the manicured greens of Bramley Golf Course, the scent of wild garlic is unmistakable on the breeze. Continue on to cross a road and enter the first of the holloways. Its banks are not only flanked with green moss and gnarled roots, but mined with all manner of intriguing passages and tunnels.
Follow the path through woodland, descending to the junction marked ‘Fox Trail’. Turn right and, at the junction of tracks, take the second left. At the half-timbered Old Cider House, turn left, and at Catteshall Manor, left again.
At Munstead Heath Road, cross over and continue on, enjoying views that typify the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: rolling hills patched with cloud shadow and budding woodland rendered faintly luminous by the April sun. At the next road, turn left, then quickly right.
Walk through woodland rich with the scent of soil matter and new life, over a stile, and down a field.
Carpet of blue
Follow the path as it skirts the house. Having passed another house, you’ll see a garden shed – here, turn left up steps, and continue on to the road in Thorncombe Street. Turn right to cross a bridge over a lively, babbling stream, left at the signpost to Bramley, then right along the ‘Organic Farm Trail’.
Cross a stile and forge up along a field following the holly hedge on your left, then along a fenced path to a wood of silver birches and show-stopping bluebells, their intense colour confirmation that spring is truly here.
Back to the pub
Leave the wood over a stile to follow a downhill field path, turning left on to a bridleway. On reaching a barn, bear right and, shortly after, cross the road and head up a woodland track. Head through fields, beyond which another deep holloway leads to a road. Cross, and continue onwards to return to the Jolly Farmer.
To view a map of this route, click here.
Stephanie Cross is an author and journalist based in Norfolk.