a href=”https://roundhillrob.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/haslemere-map-600-x-450.jpg”>Rough map showing features illustrated and mentioned in the piece.
On my day off I explored Haslemere and immediate area by following a route available in the Bunkhouse at Swan Barn Farm. Started in the town museum where I learnt that compulsory free school education started in 1891. From 1880 it had been compulsory to 10, but was not free so many folk avoided it.
I also learnt that the base line for mean sea level used as zero for all Ordnance Survey maps and carved into the harbour wall at Newlyn in Cornwall, was determined by taking hourly readings between 1915 and 1921. I sure hope it was automated.
Walking west from the Farm, across an orchard managed by the Trust I found one of the two wells which provided drinking water in Haslemere, complete with frogspawn and notice stating its unfit for drinking.
Crossing the main road I found the footway leading west. The boundary wall on the north side is build in rat-trap bond, a cost-effective way of building a wide and stable wall by laying bricks on edge, creating a very hollow centre with many linking bricks crossing it – giving rise to the name.
About a kilometre further on, as I crossed a minor road, I saw a deer watching me from among the roadside trees. I think it was waiting for me to clear off so that it could cross the same road. So I cleared off.
My way deteriorated from tarmac to bare earth, but at least nominally a road, passable only by brave or foolhardly four-wheel drivers. On one side was a wall of some antiquity, but the original purpose is lost to me, as now its just a garden wall for an exclusive and much newer house or three.
The really steep and rutted part of the track was further on.
At the top of this track I was on the very edge of Haslemere and soon onto heathland, heading north-ish to the Devil’s Punchbowl cafe for tea. Then back across the main A3 and east bound to see where the new underground A3 will emerge on its way to London. On the way I passed an interestingly deformed silver birch.dl id=”attachment_395″ class=”wp-caption aligncenter” style=”width: 610px;”> <
Returning to the main track, and the Trig point at Gibbet Hill, I went on to a tiled hexagonal floor amongst the beech trees – all that remains of the Temple of the Four Winds, built by Lord Pirrie. he had a home at Godalming at the beginning of the 20th century, but was also Chairman of Harland and Woolf in Belfast, as well as Mayor of Belfast in 1896. Clearly a man of many interests. Perhaps, like so many of us, he enjoyed nothing more than dancing naked with friends on a midnight moonlit night amongst the mighty beech trees in the forest. This area has delightful eveidence of fences and gates to keep the less desireable folk away from whatever went on in his temple. Knowing his link to steel ships may explain the cast iron and steel fencing materials (made by A & J Main and Co, of Glasgow and London).
A long and winding southerly descent led beneath buzzards in a high conifer, and past a farm with yet another watching deer, some early leaves of wood sorrel and more cast iron gate posts.
Soon I was passing under the railway line, across the A286 and walking over Grayswood Village Green, where the primary school displayed an Eco-Schools Flag, just visible at the bottom left of the big tree trunk. More frogspawn in the newly created village pond, some blackthorn in flower beside the road – first I saw this spring – then back onto footpaths, past a sewage treatment works (Hurrah – always pleased to see one of these fine symbols of an advanced society and good public health) and a dead road roller.
On the homeward straight now, soon found the delightful Imbhams Farm, beside its dammed lake, one of two here, where boggy ground has been colonised by a colourful interloper Arum. The OS map mentions an Hydraulic Ram hereabouts, but I found no trace of it, except the possibility of brick footings for its enclosure beside the top lake overflow.
On returning to the Bunkhouse at Swan Barn Farm I mentioned the hydraulic ram to one of the National Trust wardens. He told me that they have recently installed a modern version of the ram at the south ens of Black Down to pump water up to cattle troughs on the top of the hill. You can read all about the new build at Swan Barn Farm at the blog maintained by warden Dave