The Devil’s Punch Bowl & beyond

Hindhead Commons and The Devil’s Punch Bowl is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. You barely need to leave the car park to appreciate the impressive views across The Bowl.

POD and I explored The Devil’s Punch Bowl for the first time just last month but we were back so Daddy could discover it too. It was a windy day but we were lucky the rain stopped just as we arrived.

We decided to take the historic Sailor’s Stroll as it’s an easy walk and we had POD’s bedroom to decorate once we were home!

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The Bowl is a natural amphitheatre and a breathtaking one at that. The slopes are covered with heath, small streams and woodland. Even on a grey day the panoramic views extend for miles. The smell of the woodland is divine.

The Sailor’s Stone marks the spot where an unknown sailor met his death. He was murdered by three men he had befriended in a local pub in Thursley whilst walking from London to Portsmouth.

On the stone is carved: Erected in detestation of a barbarous murder committed here on an unknown sailor on Sept 24th 1786 by Edward Lonegon, Michael Casey and James Marshall who were all taken on the same day and hung in chains near this place. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed (Gen chap 9, v6). 

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Just up from the Sailor’s Stone is Gibbet Hill which lies above the Devil’s Punch Bowl. It’s the second highest point in Surrey – on a clear day you can see London and other Surrey Hills such as Leith Hill and Box Hill.

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The nearby Celtic Cross, listed by the English Heritage as a Grade II listed monument, marks the spot where the three villains were tried and hung as a warning to other criminals. Their bodies remained there for three years until they were blown down in a storm. The Celtic Cross was erected to help dispel local fears that the hill was haunted by ghosts of the highwaymen.

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The intention after that was to head back to the car which completed the Sailor’s Stroll. Daddy didn’t want to walk back on himself though and was convinced if we carried on walking we’d end up back where we started.

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POD was tired so having had a little wander, returned to her buggy where she promptly fell asleep. We took in the wonderful scenery, including fabulous ancient trees, and headed downwards into The Bowl.

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We thought we were lost but when we came across Gnome Cottage we found ourselves on the map again. Just up from there we saw the most fabulous wild horses. Several checked us out as we passed but they kept a safe distance. POD was delighted to see them having woken from her slumber a few minutes earlier.

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The scenery was beautifully lush in this lower part of the Devil’s Punch Bowl with colourful heather and yellow gorse strewn across the landscape.

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Heading upwards, the sight behind us just highlighted how fabulous this area really is.

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We then headed down wide bridal paths lined with striking trees including one that looked like it had a rabbit in it. A stark reminder of the recent storms was this huge tree that had uprooted and fallen in our path.

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We realised we might be lost when we crossed a stream and ended up in a residential area albeit a very nice one!

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We then took a bridal path that almost disappeared – we came from the other side of this gate below. We kept going even though the last part meant carrying the buggy and POD independently.

We’d clearly walked off the National Trust map, and without one of our own, we were delighted when we saw people again. And one of those National Trust signs!

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After walking some more, and attempting to make sense of Google Maps, we came across familiar landscape. We realised at that point we were heading back towards the Devil’s Punch Bowl even if we’d picked up the more demanding Highcombe Hike trail.

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When we reached The Robertson Memorial we knew we were on the right track. William Alexander Robertson was the eldest of four children. His two younger brothers died during the First World War and he left a bequest with the National Trust in memory of them. His elder brother and parents were remembered in bequests elsewhere.

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It took three hours to arrive back where we started – we rewarded ourselves with a well earned slice of cake. We didn’t get much decorating done but at least we can say we explored the Devil’s Punch Bowl and beyond!

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Linking up with Country Kids at Coombe Mill and What’s The Story? here on PODcast. The Linky for w/c 10th March 2014 can be found here. 

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56 comments

  1. What a hike! :) That slice of cake is certainly well deserved. As always, love your photos :)

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    • Thank you so much Dean. We walked miles but for the most part the scenery was incredible, fabulous place :)

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  2. I reckon you did earn that slice of cake! 3 hours, WOW! As always, fab photo’s especially the last one of Pod x

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    • We definitely earned the cake – had a large slice each! Had enough appetite for roast later too. It’s no wonder we didn’t get much decorating done! Thank you :)

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  3. We are pros at getting lost and taking the pushchair places it is just not supposed to go! All part of the adventure.

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    • That’s very true! We rarely stay on the straight and narrow as it were. Or map read it seems! It was indeed an adventure – in a wonderful location too :)

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  4. What a beautiful place.. and looks like you got some good exploring done there! Glad you managed to find your way back and had a yummy slice of cake at the end of the day :-) Devil’s Punch Bowl is on my to-do list and your photos have encouraged me to try and get there soon x

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    • It really is wonderful Jo – you must go there. If it’s sunny go early though, there are lots of fair weather walkers out there! Such a fabulous place :)

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  5. What a beautiful place! Your blog has such beautiful photos :) So glad to have discovered it xx

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  6. The scenery is fabulous, even if your walk was rather longer than intended! At least it didn’t rain :) Love the photo of the pony, and the one of Daddy pushing the buggy through the stream :)

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    • Oh it really is amazing there Sara, took a silly number of photographs (surprise surprise!). We were so lucky with the weather – we had waterproofs with us but no brolly! Such varied landscapes there, gorgeous location :)

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  7. What a brilliant walk and you certainly earned that cake. The stone is very interesting – I am trying to work out the wording. And can you tell me more about The Robertson Memorial? Can you tell I like history?!

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    • Thanks for adding the text about the inscription and some info about the Memorial :)

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    • It really was and yes we so earned the cake! I have the stone wording and more information on the Robertson Memorial so I’ll add that in :)

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  8. That is such a beautiful area steeped in history and a very picturesque walk (or hike). I think you all definitely earnt your cake! Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

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  9. It looks like a really stunning place and one definitely worth a visit. Really old gravestones really fascinate me and that is OLD!!

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  10. Oh Charly – your photos and post make me just long for a walk back in the English countryside with its beautiful views steeped in history.

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  11. Fab photos, I used to live very close by to there but never explored it, I was a teenager with too many other “things” to do. Must get there one day :)

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  12. What an absolutely stunning place, and the history and that tale of murder is fascinating. Sounds like quite a long walk in the end! Hope you manage to get the decorating done soon x

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  13. What a stunning walk xx

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  14. Such a truly amazing place to run free in :) You are so lucky. Love the historic tale and the setting, I would love to visit.

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  15. Whoa what a trek! Then again I’m not surprised with views and history like that – stunning. And what a treat to see some wild ponies! Lovely, lovely post missus :)

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  16. i really, really want to go there again! i’m rarely in that area of england though.

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  17. A lovely walk, albeit much longer than planned! I’ve been there when we let hubby take the lead. 4 hours later we were ready to throttle him!

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  18. Wow, that’s quite an adventure you ended up having but it looks like a fantastic place!

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  19. That rather unexpected stream looked a bit of a feat! I cannot tell you the number of times that I’ve driven past this place (my parents live just 3 miles away!) but we have never actually gone for a walk here. Looks like we may have to rectify that, I had no idea there were wild ponies and the like!

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  20. Looks like an amazing place to visit, if a bit creepy with all those tombstones.

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  21. This is very much my kind of place!!! It looks beautiful and i love your photos x

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  22. What a beautiful place! Gorgeous pics x

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  23. I have learnt my lesson about wandering away from the beaten path, learnt it the hard way :-) Glad you found your way back alright.

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  24. That was some walk. It’s somewhere I’ve driven past so many times en route to see friends in Portsmouth

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  25. beautiful area and beautiful scenery!

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  26. Haha – this reminds me of the walks we went on as kids. It wasn’t a day out unless we got “lost” at least once along the way ;)

    It’s a truly beautiful place, thanks for sharing it with us. What a haunting history it has!

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  27. Great place to have a walk

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  28. Looks amazing

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  29. Lovely area I know it well, having been at school in Haslemere (just across the heath from Hindhead) and having driven through it on the old A3. The transformation since the tunnel opened has been amazing!

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  30. What a stunning adventure you all had. Looks amazing. Love the pictures as always you capture pure beauty with them. Cake well deserved! ;) Thanks for hosting another fab week of what’s the story. As always, I love linking in and reading all the stories.

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  31. Sounds like a beautiful place to get lost in! Beautiful photos as always.

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  32. That really does look like a beautiful day out! The views are astounding!

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  33. What a great place! Super pictures x

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  34. Blimey what a trek! Good on you, glad you had cake to treat yourself at the end! I love the buggy in the stream photo!

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  35. aw such a fab lot of pictures , brilliant walk and least there was cake after all that energy burning x

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  36. i like to go to unexplored places or new to us, especially i like National Trust weekends, where you can go to almost any destination for free

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  37. I love Pod’s rosy cheeks in the last photo and that horse is gorgeous. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit, I would love to see what it looks like in summer

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  38. beautiful pictures and I think POD had the right idea retiring to her buggy to take in those spectacular views in comfort! xx

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  39. Wow what an amazing place to explore x stunning scenic pictures.

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  40. Wow what a beautiful place – I would imagine spending hours exploring it. x

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  41. I actually got shivers when looking at these photos – they are beautiful. The inscription on the stone was really spooky. As always, I love your blog so much. It always uplifts me with the photos #whatsthestory

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  42. I love your photos and it looks like the perfect early Spring adventure! The National Trust have some amazing areas don’t they? I am forever grateful for the way they take care of bits of our lovely country. That sailor’s grave site is so evocative too.

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  43. What beautiful pictures and such amazing scenery for a family to take a walk in. Looks like an amazing place to visit

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  44. I’d not heard of the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Well done for coping with that terrain with the buggy.

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  45. I’ve never heard of this place before but it looks like a lovely place for a walk x x

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  46. Stunning. Stunning. Stunning… What else is there to say; I think you a really in the running for some awards this year! X

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