Main Walk: 16½ km† (10.3 miles). Three hours 55 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours.
Short Circular Walk, from Cobham: 9¼ km† (5.7 miles). Two hours walking time.
† Add 5 km (3 miles) if visiting Painshill Park and doing the full suggested route through the landscape garden. See Features below.
Explorers 146 & 161, with a tiny part on 145. Oxshott, map reference TQ141609, is in Surrey, 6 km W of Epsom.
3 out of 10 (less for the shorter options).
Painshill Park was created by Charles Hamilton between 1738 and 1773, inspired by Renaissance art and his visits to Italy on the Grand Tour. The garden was at the forefront of the ‘picturesque’ movement, combining naturalistic landscaping enriched by follies, water features, a vineyard, shrubberies and exotic trees from North America. By the mid-20thC, however, all the follies were dilapidated and the garden had become an impenetrable jungle. Fortunately it was acquired by Elmbridge Borough Council in 1980 and since then the Painshill Park Trust has succeeded both in restoring it and replanting the grounds with species introduced by Hamilton. Not unreasonably, the GradeⅠlisted Painshill now claims to be “England's most elegant 18thC landscape garden”.
Painshill has been open to the public since 1997, with admission being £8 (2017). A suggested route through the gardens is outlined in this document, based on the ‘Historic Route’ taken by visitors in the 1740s. Shorter routes can easily be devised from the site map handed to visitors on arrival. Most of the follies can be visited at all times, but the Grotto and Gothic Tower might only be open at weekends.
The main purpose of this walk is obviously the opportunity to visit Painshill, but this is not necessary and the circuit from Oxshott is long enough to provide interest in its own right. The station is on the edge of Oxshott Heath and the Main Walk starts with a short loop around its wooded escarpment, with views to the south. A footpath through woodland and alongside Knowle Hill Park leads to Stoke D'Abernon, close to the Short Walk's start at Cobham station.
Both walks continue with a loop around the extensive Cobham Park Estate (sadly with no public access) to Downside Common and a possible early pub stop. Some quiet country lanes and a footpath across water meadows bordering the River Mole take you to more refreshment places on the outskirts of Cobham. Painshill Park is to the north-west of the town, and prospective visitors can browse an informative display in its Walled Garden before deciding whether to enter the main garden.
After going back through the centre of Cobham the main route continues with a fairly length stretch along its residential streets, a consequence of the town being hemmed in by the A3, river and railway. The final section is across more partly-wooded commons: Fairmile Common, Esher Common and Oxshott Heath again.
The two alternative endings (see below) go near Cobham Mill, an 18thC water mill which has been restored to full working order by a Preservation Trust. It is open to the public on the 2nd Sunday of each month (Apr–Oct), from 2-5pm.
The River Mole is prone to flooding. Judging by the warning road signs near the water meadows outside Cobham, this walk should not be attempted after periods of heavy rain.
Towards the end of the main route across Esher Common you can save 1½ km by cutting out the loop on the other side of the A3.
As any route across Esher Common would be tricky in failing light, two simpler endings from Cobham town centre are described. The shorter route to Oxshott is mostly through two large estates on gated roads designated as public footpaths, giving you the opportunity to gawp at a string of expensive mansions from legitimate rights of way. However, this route still involves a potentially gloomy stretch through Oxshott Heath at the end, whereas the shortest possible ending (along Tilt Toad to Cobham station) would be manageable in the dusk.
If you plan to spend time exploring Painshill you might prefer (especially in winter) to start from Cobham station. The Short Circular Walk omits all the heathland and commons around Oxshott, but you could combine the Cobham start with finishing in Oxshott.
Oxshott and Cobham are adjacent stations on the “New Guildford Line”, with a half-hourly service from Waterloo (hourly on Sundays) taking around 40 minutes. Cobham is further from London, so you would need a return to Cobham & Stoke D'Abernon (its full name) to start or finish there.
Cobham is served by several bus routes, with Stagecoach 715 providing a regular service to Kingston and Guildford (hourly Mon–Sat, every 90 minutes Sun). However, on this short walk you are never too far from one of the stations.
If driving, Oxshott station car park is free at weekends. Cobham station car park is free on Sundays and costs £2 at other off-peak times, including Saturdays (2017).
Take the train nearest to 10:00 from Waterloo to Oxshott for the Main Walk, or half an hour later to Cobham for the Short Walk.
Cobham is an affluent town and both of the pub/restaurants listed here are relatively up-market, serving excellent (but fairly expensive) food; you would need to call ahead to be sure of a table in their restaurant.
For an early pub lunch you could stop at The Cricketers (01932-862105) on Downside Common (5½ km from Oxshott, 2½ km from Cobham), which has a large patio area overlooking the common.
Half an hour later a short detour off the walk route would take you to an alternative pub on the outskirts of Cobham, The Plough (01932-589790). In the same area an interesting alternative would be The Medicine Garden (01932-589536), which invites visitors to “eat, drink, relax or be pampered” in a Victorian Walled Garden containing a restaurant and a café.
Visitors to Painshill Park could skip these places and have a light lunch in its tearoom (see below), while non-visitors will find more eateries in Cobham's town centre (though walkers might find it difficult to secure a table at The Ivy Cobham Brasserie).
If you spend time visiting Painshill Park Mr Hamilton's Tea Room is open daily to 5.30pm summer, 3.30pm winter. On the way back through Cobham the walk route passes a couple of good but fairly expensive coffee shops: Bronte's (07850-473310) in Hollyhedge Road, open daily to 5pm (4pm Sun); and Fego (01932-860113) in Anyard Road, open daily to 5pm (3.30pm Sun). The usual suspects (Starbucks, etc) can also be found on its High Street.
After leaving Cobham there are no more refreshment places on the main route back to Oxshott station, and you would have to walk a fair way past the station to get a drink in the Victoria (01372-841900) pub/brasserie in the village.
There are more opportunities if you take the shorter ending to Cobham station, which passes the Running Mare (01932-862007) pub/restaurant on Tilt Common (this is also close to the shorter Oxshott ending). At Cobham station you should be able to get something from either a delicatessen, a fast-food café (Baked and Battered) or a small coffee shop (Caffe Nesta) on Platform 1.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
|Copyright||© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml|
The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route for the selected option(s).
Walk Options ( Main | Short )
Click on any option to show only the sections making up that route, or the heading above to show all sections.
- Main Walk (16½ km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
If you are doing a Short Walk from Cobham station, start at §3.
- Oxshott Station to Brown's Corner (1¼ km)
- Brown's Corner to Stoke D'Abernon (2¼ km)
- Stoke D'Abernon (or Cobham Station) to Downside Common (2 km)
- From Cobham Station (+½ km)
- Downside Common to Downside Bridge (2½ km)
- Detour to The Plough (+300m) or The Medicine Garden (+400m)
- Downside Bridge to Painshill Park (1¼ km)
- Notes on visiting Painshill Park (up to 5 km)
- Painshill Park to Cobham Clock Tower (¾ km)
- Cobham Clock Tower to Leigh Corner (¾ km)
- Leigh Corner to Cobham Station (1½ km)
- Leigh Corner to Oxshott Station (3¼ km)
- Cobham Clock Tower to Fairmile Common (2 km)
- Fairmile Common to West Bridge (1¼ km)
- West Bridge to Sandy Lane (2½ or 1 km)
- Main route (2½ km)
- Short cut (1 km)
- Sandy Lane to Oxshott Station (¾ km)
From the station forecourt take a short path through the trees onto Oxshott Heath. For the most scenic route to its south-west corner, make your way up to the War Memorial on the escarpment ahead, turn left and head west along it. At the end drop down and take a path heading south along the western edge of the woodland to Brown's Corner.
Arriving from London, cross the footbridge and leave from the other platform. Take the tarmac path to the right of some small buildings opposite, up a short slope to an information panel about Oxshott Heath1.
For the shortest route you could simply take the path on the left directly to Brown's Corner (750m away), but the route described below takes a more scenic loop along the edge of the wooded escarpment 200m ahead.
There are several ways up to the prominent War Memorial on the escarpment, but for a fairly gentle route turn right at the crosspaths in front of the panel, then in 25m fork left onto a sandy path heading N. This soon starts to climb gently and in 150m goes up a few steps to a T-junction with a broad path. Turn left and follow this uphill past wooden barriers to come to the War Memorial2 in 100m.
After passing the memorial keep left past a gnarled oak tree and follow a broad path running along the top of the escarpment for 150m, with fine views. Just before the path starts to descend a flight of steps, veer right past a new wooden bench onto a path through a more wooded part of the heath, staying at the top of the escarpment. In 40m ignore another path down the slope, but in a further 75m fork left at the back of a small clearing onto a broad level path heading SW.
Follow this path for 250m, going straight ahead at a major crosspaths halfway along, to reach a small cluster of benches at the end of the escarpment. As indicated by a white arrow on a post by the last bench, go straight ahead down the slope. Immediately after passing a pit on the right, fork right onto a short path leading to the western edge of the wood.
Turn left here onto a path going gently downhill alongside a (usually muddier) horse ride. In 150m this comes to a small parking area by a road (Littleheath Lane) at a sharp bend, Brown's Corner.
Head south on Littleheath Lane, crossing the railway. Turn right onto a footpath going back across the tracks onto Littleheath Common. The suggested route is to detour off to the right to go alongside the attractive large pond. Rejoin the footpath and follow it alongside Knowle Hill Park to the A245. Continue on Tilt Road opposite, joining the route from Cobham station just before it turns right.
Continue in the same direction along the road for 300m, going over the railway at a level crossing. Just before a T-junction, and immediately after crossing a private road (Richards Road), turn right onto a signposted footpath. Follow this between garden fences for 200m, then carefully back across the railway at another level crossing. On the other side the footpath leads onto the wooded Littleheath Common3.
The public footpath continues straight ahead, but for a more scenic route turn half-right onto a short path leading to an attractive lake. Turn left and follow the path around its edge for about 200m. Just before an information panel veer left onto a path back into the trees, crossing a ditch on a plank bridge. The path soon goes up a few steps and you turn right to rejoin the public footpath, with a chainlink fence on the left.
At the end of the wood go over a stile into a field and keep left to follow a grassy path around its edge. In the next corner go through a gap, over another stile and simply follow the footpath all the way along the edge of the private Knowle Hill Park, protected by a chainlink fence. At the far end go through a small wooden gate and along a fenced path for a further 300m to the A245 (Stoke Road).
Cross this busy main road carefully to continue in the same direction on the tarmac path opposite, running alongside Tilt Road. In 250m you cross Bray Road and shortly afterwards pass a signposted footpath on the left, the route from Cobham station.
[•] If starting from Cobham station, bear right onto Station Road and turn left into Bray Road. At a roundabout take the footpath to the left of Bray Road and turn left onto Tilt Road at the end.
Arriving from London, cross the footbridge and leave from the other platform. Bear right onto Station Road, go past a parade of shops and turn left into Bray Road, soon passing D'Abernon Drive on the left. At a roundabout cross the other arm of this road and take a short tarmac path to the left of the continuation of Bray Road. At the end turn left onto Tilt Road, joining the route from Oxshott station.
Where Tilt Road turns right keep ahead on a bridleway, crossing the River Mole and heading south-west through the private Cobham Park Estate. Follow this right of way along a lane and then across a field on the left to Downside Common. Bear right across the grass to The Cricketers pub near its western corner.
Where Tilt Road turns right keep ahead on a tarmac driveway, leading to a cemetery. Take the bridleway to the left of its entrance, soon crossing the River Mole on a substantial footbridge. Continue on a long broad path between high hedges, with occasional views at fieldgates into the private Cobham Park Estate4.
In 750m the path bends right and comes out onto a driveway. Bear right and follow this gently uphill. In 400m the drive bends right but to stay on the right of way you have to turn left as directed, through a wooden gate onto a broad tree-lined path between fields.
The continuation of the driveway – a useful link route of just 150m onto the public road into Cobham – is shown as a permitted cycle route on the OS map, but judging by the plethora of “No Public Access” notices around the Cobham Park Estate, this permission must have been withdrawn.
The path comes out between St Michael's Chapel5 and a cottage garden, passing a Victorian water pump6. Cross a lane onto Downside Common and turn half-right, aiming for a clump of trees in the centre of the common, 200m away. Take a path through the trees (or skirt around their right-hand side) and continue in much the same direction for a further 125m to come to The Cricketers pub on the right-hand side of the common, a possible early lunch stop.
At the end of the common go straight across the main road and all the way along Chilbrook Road opposite. Turn right onto Ockham Lane and then left into Pointers Road. In 200m turn right onto a footpath heading north-east across fields and water meadows for 1¼ km. At the end turn left onto Downside Road (or detour to the right for The Plough or The Medicine Garden).
Carry on alongside the pub's driveway to the road junction at the end of the common. Cross the main road carefully and continue along Chilbrook Road opposite. Go all the way along this quiet lane, bending left at Chilbrook Farm and later with views across the Mole valley to Painshill, 2 km away. At the end turn right briefly onto Ockham Lane, then turn left into another quiet country lane (Pointers Road).
After a further 200m of road walking turn right onto a signposted footpath, going over a stile to the left of a metal fieldgate into a large field. Head NNE as indicated, towards a stile in the middle of a (possibly temporary) low fence across the field. Continue in the same direction to the far corner of the field and cross a stream on a wooden footbridge.
Towards the end of the field, if you follow the line of pylons off to the left you might just be able to see the top of Painshill's Gothic Tower among the trees.
Follow a grassy path curving round to the left alongside a hedge, with the River Mole behind it. In 150m go through a gate to the left of a large oak tree and follow the line of footpath waymarker posts across three large meadows for 700m, heading roughly NE.
In the third meadow you can see the Plough Inn off to the right, shortly before the footpath comes out onto Downside Road. Unless you want to detour to this pub (or an alternative refreshment place) cross the main road carefully and turn left onto the pavement to come to Downside Bridge over the River Mole.
For either refreshment place turn right onto the main road. At the junction with Plough Lane turn right for The Plough; for The Medicine Garden continue along the main road for a further 75m to find a pedestrian gate in a high brick wall into the Walled Garden. In both cases, return the same way and go past the footpath from the meadow, crossing the main road to the pavement on its right-hand side.
Follow the road across Downside Bridge and round to the right. Where it turns sharply left the suggested route is to detour through the churchyard and rejoin the road at its junction with Church Street for a further 100m. Unless you want to head directly to Cobham's town centre along a footpath on the right, take the left-hand of two footpaths on the left, directly away from the road. In 150m turn right onto a long tree-lined path (Anvil Lane) to reach a large car park, where there is an information panel about Painshill Park. Follow its access path across a footbridge over the River Mole.
[•] If visiting the garden, pay the entrance fee in the Visitor Centre. Use the site map handed to visitors to plan a route through the landscape garden. Go back across the footbridge to resume the walk.
Follow the road (which becomes Downside Bridge Road) across the river and round to the right. Where the road turns sharply left you can get a brief respite from the traffic by taking the driveway past Church Gate House Centre and entering the churchyard of St Andrew's church7, which is worth a visit.
To resume the walk, follow the tarmac path past the church tower to the corner of the churchyard and back onto Downside Bridge Road. Go along the main road for 100m, crossing Church Street and St Andrew's Walk, to come to footpath signposts on both sides of the road.
Even if you do not intend to visit Painshill Park the short loop out to its entrance is pleasant enough, and you can read about its history in the Walled Garden. If you want to skip this little diversion, however, you can save 1¼ km by taking the footpath on the right past the back of a car park; at the end turn right onto Hollyhedge Road and resume the directions at [•] in the next section.
For the main route, cross Downside Bridge Road carefully and take the footpath heading directly away from the road, passing allotments on the right and then the Cobham Community Garden8. 30m after the end of the garden, turn right as indicated onto a long straight tree-lined path, with a meadow on the left and playing fields on the right. Later you pass a football ground on the right and the large car park for Painshill Park on the left, finally going through a small parking area for more allotments.
At the end turn left across Painshill's entrance driveway onto a sandy path running alongside its car park. Turn right in front of an information panel onto the site's access path. In 75m there is a grassy path on the right leading back to the driveway which is the continuation of the walk, but having come this far even non-visitors might like to take in the nice view of the River Mole from the elegant new footbridge ahead, and perhaps read about the estate's history on the information panels in its Walled Garden.
After crossing the River Mole the Walled Garden is on the left and the Visitor Centre (where you would need to pay the entrance fee to proceed any further) is straight ahead.
Visitors to the garden are handed a Map of Painshill describing its main features and showing several suggested circular routes. More detailed information is available in an inexpensive guide book, Painshill reborn.
The waymarked Historic Route (about 4½ km) takes you through the whole garden and passes all its main features. Two shorter and less hilly routes (each about 2½ km) cover just the eastern half of the garden.
If you have time the Suggested Route (about 5 km) is to follow most of the Historic Route, but on the way back cross Five Arch Bridge and return along the south side of the lake for fine views across the water of the Ruined Abbey, Vineyard, etc.
After visiting the garden go back across the footbridge to resume the walk.
Go back across a field to the entrance driveway and continue on a path alongside it to the A245. Turn right onto a tarmac path leading into a playing field and bear left across the grass. Go across Downside Bridge Road and along Hollyhedge Road to the Clock Tower on the main road.
Leave the access path between the car park and the footbridge, taking a grassy path across a small field towards a gate on the far side. Go through this, cross the entrance driveway and bear left onto a tree-lined path leading out to the A245. At the far end turn right onto a tarmac path alongside a hedge, with the road curving left away from it. Follow the path between a row of houses and the other side of the football ground.
At the start of the playing field bear left across the grass, aiming for the right-hand end of a hedge projecting out into the far corner (enclosing the car park for the Sacred Heart church ahead on your left). Go alongside the hedge to a road (Downside Bridge Road again) and cross it carefully. Continue along the side road opposite (Hollyhedge Road), passing a car park on the right and then a footpath (the short cut route in the previous section).
[•] On the left-hand side of Hollyhedge Road you pass Bronte's, the first of two suggested tea places if you want to break for refreshment. In a short pedestrianised section leading out to Cobham High Street (the A245 again), there is a mosaic and an information panel on the right about the Diggers9.
Cross the main road carefully to the Clock Tower. If you detour a short distance along the street branching off to the left (Anyard Road) you will find an alternative refreshment place (Fego) in the parade of shops on the right-hand side.
There are more coffee shops (Starbucks, Carluccio's, Costa) down the High Street to the right.
If you are doing the main (longer) route to Oxshott, go to §10.
Unless you want to walk along the High Street, head east briefly on Hogshill Lane and fork right into Cedar Road. At the end take the footpath on the left, which turns right after 100m to come out onto the A245 by Leigh Place. Continue alongside the main road to its junction with Leigh Hill Road.
The suggested route goes along quiet back streets and alleyways before rejoining the A245, but if you prefer you can simply head south on the High Street (passing other restaurants and coffee shops) and follow the main road round to the left where it runs alongside the river, soon passing Cobham Mill10. At the time of writing, however, the footway alongside the A245 was closed after the mill and the onward route not safe for pedestrians.
For the suggested route, head E from the Clock Tower on Hogshill Lane and almost immediately fork right into Cedar Road, passing the library and a new housing development. In 250m the road turns left and becomes Cedar Avenue, with several footpaths signposted.
The tarmac path ahead leads to the A245 opposite Cobham Mill (but with the same problem if the footway is closed).
For a safer (if uninspiring) route turn left onto the footpath in front of Home Yard Cottages, an alleyway between high walls. In 100m turn right at a junction and follow the path out to the A245. Go straight across Leigh Place and continue on the tarmac path alongside the main road, with the River Mole beyond it. In 200m there is a traffic island in the road, shortly before a junction with Leigh Hill Road on the left.
If you are doing the shorter route to Oxshott, go to §9.
Go along the right-hand side of the A245 past Leigh Hill Road and keep right into Tilt Road. Where it turns sharply left after 1 km, keep ahead on a short tarmac path to a roundabout. Go along Bray Road and turn right at the end to reach Cobham station.
Use the traffic island to cross the A245 and continue along its right-hand side, past Leigh Hill Road. Where the main road bends left, keep right on Tilt Road and simply follow this quiet road for 1 km, soon passing the Running Mare pub/restaurant on the right (a possible late refreshment stop). Towards the end the footway is separated from the road by a broad grassy strip, with a cemetery across the road on the right.
Where Tilt Road turns sharply left follow the tarmac path as it turns half-left and crosses the road, then turn right onto the signposted footpath beside Stile Cottage, retracing your outward route if you started from Cobham station.
The tarmac path comes out by a roundabout where you keep ahead onto Bray Road. At the end go past a parade of shops on the right (including a delicatessen) and turn right onto Station Road. There is a fast-food café in the station forecourt and a Caffe Nesta on the near side platform, the one for trains to London.
If you have a long wait for a train and all these places are closed, the nearest pub (the Old Plough) is on the A245 at the other end of Station Road, about 400m away.
Turn left into Leigh Hill Road and keep ahead on Mizen Way. At the end of this long private road (also a public footpath) turn left briefly onto Fairmile Lane. Turn right into Eaton Park Road, another right of way along a private road. At the end follow Littleheath Lane to Oxshott Heath at Brown's Corner. Keep ahead on a woodland path to reach Oxshott station.
At the road junction turn left into Leigh Hill Road. Where it bends left keep ahead on Mizen Way, a private road signposted as a public footpath. Go through a side gate at the vehicle barrier and simply follow this long residential street for 1 km, keeping right near the end (with Oxshott Rise on the left). Go down a slope and out through another side gate.
At the T-junction turn left briefly onto Fairmile Lane and then turn right into Eaton Park Road, another private road designated as a public footpath (although at the time of writing there was no signpost at this end). Follow this street for 600m, again using side gates at both ends.
At the far end the road merges with Water Lane and becomes Littleheath Lane. Ignore ways off and follow this tree-lined lane for 750m, with the wooded Little Heath on your right (the site of the second Diggers9 settlement, marked by a roadside information panel).
The tracks into the wood mostly lead to private houses and while it might be possible to find an alternative route here, the path alongside this quiet lane is pleasant enough.
The road eventually turns sharply right at Brown's Corner, where you go straight across the outward route from Oxshott station. Keep ahead through the small parking area onto a broad path into the wooded Oxshott Heath, alongside a signposted (and usually muddier) bridleway.
In 300m keep ahead at a crosspaths, passing an information panel and a footbridge over the railway tracks on your right. You can soon see the long station car park through the trees on your right, but the station itself is at the far end and the simplest route is to continue along the woodland path. At the end of an open area (with views of the wooded escarpment off to your left) turn right at a crosspaths by another information panel.
A short tarmac path through the trees takes you down to the station forecourt. Trains to London leave from Platform 1 on the near side.
There are no refreshment places near the station. There is a pub/brasserie (the Victoria) on Oxshott High Street, but you would have to go up the approach road, turn right and walk alongside the busy A244 for 750m to reach the village.
Head east on Hogshill Lane and follow this bridleway (a mix of residential streets and enclosed paths) past a school and across Icklingham Road to Fairmile Lane. Go across this and along Green Lane to Fairmile Common.
From the Clock Tower head E on Hogshill Lane. Ignore Cedar Road off to the right and follow this one-way residential street as it curves gently to the left. In 250m use the raised walkway on the left where the road becomes two-way and narrows. In a further 200m (where it turns left and becomes Tartar Road) keep ahead, staying on Hogshill Lane.
In 250m, just before the road swings right, bear left onto a signposted bridleway and follow this enclosed path past houses and a school playing field to a wide residential street of grand houses. Go straight across this onto a short grassy path, cutting off a corner and soon joining the continuation of Hogshill Lane. Ignore a couple of streets off to the left. At the end continue on an enclosed path to a road (Fairmile Lane).
Cross this road carefully and go all the way along another wide street (Green Lane). At the end there is a small parking area for the wooded Fairmile Common, with an information panel about the group of Esher Commons11 on the right.
Enter the wooded common and follow a path heading north and later north-east. Go along the south side of a private property at the north-east of the common and continue on a path around the north side of Middle Pond. Follow the path onto Esher Common and make your way alongside (or through) a cleared area to reach West Bridge, the first of two footbridges across the A3.
Go to the north side of the parking area (away from the panel) and take the right-hand of two broad paths into the wood, initially heading N. You will be following this woodland path for the next 400m or so, gradually curving round to the right to head NE (and getting closer to the A3, which you can hear off to the left). In 50m you cross a horse ride and a second after another 250m. In a further 100m keep ahead through a small clearing in the undergrowth, dotted with pine trees.
The path now goes alongside rhododendron bushes and a chainlink fence on the left, guarding a large private property. As the path descends you should be able to see a lake ahead. At the corner of the property turn left to stay alongside the fence, soon with a view of Lakewood House in the grounds. Follow the path as it drops down to the right and goes alongside the tip of the attractive Middle Pond11.
On the far side follow the path as it curves round to the left and then back to the right, soon with the first of two footbridges across the A3 (West Bridge) visible 300m ahead. Ignore a couple of bridleways off to the right to stay on a (slightly awkward) path through the wood, with an old boundary ditch on your left.
In 50m there is a narrow path on the left which goes through the middle of the cleared area between the wood and the main road directly towards the bridge, but the traffic noise is slightly less intrusive if you stay on the woodland path. Either way, you come to a T-junction where you turn left onto a broad path leading directly to West Bridge.
For the suggested route, cross West Bridge and turn left. Loop around Black Pond and head east across Esher Common. Turn right onto a horse ride and follow it across East Bridge to Sandy Lane at the north-west corner of Oxshott Heath. For a shorter route, do not cross West Bridge but simply follow the signposted horse ride to Oxshott Heath.
The main route takes in an attractive part of the wooded heathland on the other side of the A3, passing the picturesque Black Pond and returning across East Bridge. If you are short of time, however, you can take the short cut in §12b.
Cross the footbridge over the A3 and turn left onto the cycleway on the far side, down a slope and gently round to the right. You could simply stay on this tarmac path for 250m before forking right onto a broad woodland path (where the cycleway bends left), but the suggested route is to veer right near the bottom of the slope onto a narrow path through the trees. This runs close to the cycleway for about 200m and then merges with this broad path, heading N.
The path soon goes between wooden horse barriers and onto a causeway along the western edge of Black Pond12. On the far side go between another set of barriers and in about 50m turn right onto a narrow path through the heather (or turn right at a signposted path crossing a little further ahead: the two paths merge at the top of a small slope). Continue in the same direction on a long straight path through a pine wood.
After passing between more barriers bear right at a signpost to come to an information panel by a four-way signpost (but named “Five Ways”). There are several possible continuations and the suggested route is not to take any of the signposted horse rides but to bear left in the direction midway between the rides to Longy Down and Esher Common. You soon pick up a clear sandy path through the heathland – presumably the Fifth Way – with woodland sloping up to your left.
The simplest route is to follow this path for about 400m to a major junction with a broad sandy horse ride, although if you wish you could veer left onto one of the narrow paths leading up to the woodland and take in the view from one of the wooden benches there. There is an alternative path along the edge of the woodland, so either way turn right when you reach the horse ride to head S.
The horse ride leads directly to the second footbridge (East Bridge) where you cross back over the A3. On the far side simply continue on the long straight ride for a further 750m to a road (Sandy Lane), with the short cut joining from the right along the way.
Do not cross the footbridge but turn right onto the other broad path going back down the slope: you will be following this waymarked horse ride all the way to Oxshott Heath. At the bottom of the slope turn left as indicated, heading E. In 200m the ride bends right and goes through a more open part of the common. In 400m turn right at a T-junction (rejoining the main route) and follow the horse ride out to a road (Sandy Lane).
Cross Sandy Lane onto Oxshott Heath and follow a woodland path heading south-east for 500m to reach the escarpment by the War Memorial. Go down the slope and along a short path through the trees to reach Oxshott station.
Cross the road carefully onto the wooded Oxshott Heath1. You will be following a long straight path through the wood which leaves the road off to the right (just beyond Roundhill Way), but you can take the narrow path bearing right up the slope ahead to join this path after 60m. Follow this clear path for almost 500m, heading SE and with occasional “Trail 2000” marker posts pointing ahead at path crossings.
As you approach the edge of the wood the path curves left and comes out past a gnarled oak tree (which you might recognise from the outward route of the Main Walk) onto the escarpment, with fine views ahead. The surfaced path which you can see below leads directly to the station (250m away), so for the most direct route go down the slope below the War Memorial2 on one of the sandy paths. Veer left onto the surfaced path and keep ahead at a crosspaths by an information panel.
- Oxshott Heath is owned by Elmbridge Borough Council and managed by a group of honorary Conservators, an arrangement established by an Act of Parliament in 1904.
- The prominent War Memorial on Oxshott Heath was erected after World WarⅠ by Sir Robert MacAlpine (‘concrete Bob’), founder of the MacAlpine construction company.
- Littleheath Common is owned by Elmbridge Borough Council and managed for nature conservation, amenity and access. The pond – large enough to be called a lake – was originally a gravel pit.
- The Cobham Park Estate has been owned by the Combe family since 1806, with the present mansion (not visible) being completed in 1873. The family sold the house in the late 20thC and it has been converted into luxury retirement apartments.
- Although not much bigger than a garden shed, the tiny St Michael's Chapel (in the parish of Ockham) still has regular Church of England services.
- The water pump was erected in 1858 by Harvey Combe, owner of Cobham Park, for the benefit of the cottagers on Downside Common.
- St Andrew, Cobham dates from the 12thC but was much altered and extended in the 19thC. It contains a unique brass depicting the nativity.
- The Cobham Community Garden aims to help people to grow and harvest their own food, part of a local initiative “to create a greener and more sustainable Cobham”.
- The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals who attempted to farm on common land in the disorderly period following the execution of CharlesⅠ in 1649. They issued pamphlets and established communal settlements near Cobham (on St George's Hill and then Little Heath), but in each case were driven off by local landowners.
- Cobham Mill was built in the late 18thC and was in use until 1928. Other buildings on the site were demolished in 1953 to relieve traffic congestion on Mill Road but this small mill survived and has been restored to full working order.
- Esher Commons is the name given to a group of predominantly wooded commons south-west of Esher: Fairmile, Esher, Arbrook and West End Commons, plus Oxshott Heath. The woodland around Middle Pond was added as compensation when this Site of Special Scientific Interest was cut in two by the A3 in 1974.
- Black Pond is the largest of the ponds on Esher Commons. It was created to supply water to Claremont Landscape Garden (NT), 1 km to the north.
» Last updated: November 18, 2017