If you’re looking for an invigorating walk in the Surrey Hills, with stunning views and unique art, the Inspiring Views walk is an ideal choice. I loved the idea of mixing art with nature, so was keen to explore for our Sunday walk.
The self-guided walk leads to 3 of the sculptures from the Inspiring Views art project and to some beautiful viewpoints, looking out over Surrey. Find out how we got on with the Inspiring Views Walk in the Surrey Hills.
The Surrey Hills is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in South-East England and covers 422 km2 of stunning English countryside.
- Start Point: GU5 9EN Winterfold Donkins Car Park 5 – Near Cranleigh, Surrey (the car park can be accessed from Winterfold Heath Road)
- Type of walk: Circular (or alternative shorter out and back walk)
- Distance: 6 miles (9.5 km)
- Time: 3-4 hours
- Refreshments: The Windmill Pub, Ewhurst, GU6 7NN
As part of a Surrey Hills art project, five sculptors were commissioned to design sculptural benches along the Greensand Way. You can see these benches at Gibbet Hill, Reynards Hill, Holmbury Hill, Winterfold and Hascombe Hill in Surrey.
We set off on a family quest to find these benches on the Inspiring Views walk.
The full 6-mile circular walk has some steep and uneven sections, so is not suitable for beginners or younger kids. However, the first stretch of the walk is on a flat level trail through woodlands, so is ideal for all ages and abilities.
If you want to visit the sculptures, you could go as far as the Contour Bench and retrace your steps from there.
Located at the top of Winterfold Hill, just a short distance from the car park, is the first artwork, Perspectives. Designer, Giles Miller, has created this igloo-like shelter, using 400 wooden shingles for the roof.
Perspectives’ roof shingles all have engravings of personal messages and thoughts from local people. The shelter covers a bench overlooking the Surrey Hills and provides a perfect space for reflection and contemplation.
We took some time to read the inscriptions and enjoy the views, then retraced our steps to The Greensand Way.
The Greensand Way
To get to the next sculptured bench we followed a stretch of the Greensand Way through some woodland. This a flat path and part of a longer walking trail that goes for 108 miles from Haslemere in Surrey to Hamstreet in Kent.
The boys were delighted to find a rope swing hanging from one of the trees and we stopped for a play before heading to the next artwork.
The next composition is a bench, Contour, which was made from recycled plastic. Looking at its beautiful design, you would never know it’s made of rubbish.
Contour is a stylish composition, which blends well with its environment. This is not surprising as sculptor, Russell Jakubowski, got his design inspiration from the natural contours of the surrounding land on Greensand Ridge.
The bench’s position at the top of Reynards Hill is a perfect viewpoint, from which you can enjoy the beautiful countryside below.
If you continue the Inspiring Views walk, you’ll eventually head down to the Hurt Wood Mill in Ewhurst. This is a impressive grade II listed tower mill.
It’s not the first time I’ve seen the windmill and I still love it. It is now a residential property, which gave us all some real house envy!
As you reach the main road you have two options, walk along the road, or climb Pitch Hill.
If you opt for the main road, you have the bonus of a pit stop at The Windmill Pub in Ewhurst. We were really in need of a drink and rest, so it wasn’t a good time to discover we’d forgotten our money! We had no choice but to climb Pitch Hill!
There’s no denying that it’s a very steep climb up Pitch Hill. However, at the top you can see for miles over the South Downs. There is a trig point to help you with directions. It’s a great place for a stop and has some benches, so you can enjoy the views. However, the black clouds were rolling in and we were keen to push on.
To get back to the road, we took a steep descent through the woods. There was no clear path, and the surface was uneven and rocky in places. Plus, we had to climb over fallen trees. The boys loved this, as they always prefer a more off the beaten track route. I was more worried about slipping the whole way down on my back.
To be honest, we didn’t really enjoy the last stretch of the Inspiring Views walk. We liked the pretty farm, but then the heavens opened. Before long the ground was sodden and we were soaking wet. Inevitably we missed a turning, as we were too busy looking at the ground.
Unsurprisingly we chose not to detour for the Xylem Voices sculpture, a later addition to the Surrey Hills art collection.
Eventually we reached Winterfold Hill and made a final ascent to return to our start. By now we were drenched, exhausted and very hungry.
With hindsight, it is a lovely walk with some stunning views. However, it would be better on a dry day so we could enjoy the views. Plus we needed to take a big lunch and lots more snacks!
Where are the other Inspiring Views sculptures?
Xylem by Walter Bailey is another sculptural bench on the side of Gibbet Hill. We came across this whilst doing the Hidden Treasures Walk at The Devil’s Punchbowl near Hindhead.
Grains by Tom Nicholson-Smith is up a footpath near the White Horse Pub in Hascombe. That will be a project for the future, preferably when the pubs reopen!
Have you tried any good walks in the Surrey Hills? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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