Headley Heath is a designated Site of Specific Interest with a mix of open heathland, shady woods and steep chalk grassland valleys. Managed by the National Trust, it covers some 300 hectares of the North Downs in Surrey.
Having realised we were a day too early for a miltary history open day (Mummy’s fault!), we headed for the Lizard Trail. This is a 3km walk covering Dean Wood Heath, The Pyramids, Aspen Pond, Purley Plain, Bellamoss Pond and the Brown Pond. The weather wasn’t on our side but in true British style we headed off anyway!
We were hoping to see a few of the Belted Galloway cattle that graze Headley Heath but they must have taken cover from the rain! Thankfully the downpours didn’t last and it wasn’t long before POD was running ahead enquiring which way to go. This meant we were able to admire the birch trees that surrounded us – as well as a superb display of foxgloves.
Dean Wood Heath was devastated in the storms of 1987 and the bracken grows rapidly there. It has been freshly cut back when we arrived providing us with ample opportunity to climb trees, play hide and seek
or just balance on a tree stump to eat a banana.
A little further down we were met by the most wonderful valley, not dissimilar in fun level to the Ha-Ha at Claremont!
POD and Daddy ran up and down although it wasn’t long before POD needed a rest!
The view around the corner was incredible and now it had brightened up we could see for miles. The path here is made up of pebble-like stones which are a relic from when Headley was covered by the sea. The North Downs were formed at the same time as the Alps following the last ice age.
POD found a large puddle which was great for stirring once she found a large stick. She also ran about a lot, the incredible views providing a superb backdrop behind her. The Pyramid area derives its name from the pyramids of ammunition stores built up by the Canadian army during the Second World War.
We then took a narrow path which led to Aspen Pond, so called because of the trees that grow there. It would have been a tranquil spot were it not for an excitable three year old!
Having walked across open heathland, we reached the ancient Brimmer Pond. I can imagine it won’t be long before it’s alive with newts, frogs and dragonflies. And Hopeful Pond too which is a little further along.
Purley Plain was named after pupils from Purley High School helped cleared the area after a devastating fire in 1956. There are lumps and bumps dotted around due to WWII army exercises. Wandering through here we found oak trees that were brilliant for climbing although POD had peaked too early!
The landscape changed again after that. We passsed thickets of spikey gorse with yellow coconut smelling flowers.
After that the path widened and we recognised where we were – almost back at the car park. With all the playing we’d done along the way it felt like we’d walked much further than 3km but what a fabulous find.