Horsell Common, Surrey. Near Woking. Actually ended up finding this place after passing through Woking on the train a few times. Never having been and knowing nothing about it, I did some serious research . Well, I Googled it.
What to Expect?
Lots and lots of open space. About 800 acres of it. Wetlands, heathland, historic sites and sites of scientific interest. Parts of it are very atmospheric, otherworldly. Not surprising to learn that part of the Common known as the Sandpits were the inspiration for the Martian landings in sci-fi classic The War of the Worlds. We didn’t make it to the Sandpits- too little time and fast fading light- but if you’d like a glimpse at what it’s all about, there’s a great post over at commonplace.phd
Good for Walking, then?
Very good for walking. You can just wander, or follow mapped out walks of varying length and difficulty. There is also the Bedser Trail, a 1.2 km easy access circular route with no steep gradients. I love that the Bedser Trail was created in honour of two local lads and was created entirely by volunteers to give better access to nature for all. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Absolutely! One of the most dog friendly places we’ve been. Four legged friends of all shapes and sizes and lots of chatty, friendly humans with them. Plenty of space to roam and sniff. Lots of red bins.
We rounded off the dog walk with coffee and cake at the onsite Heather Farm Cafe. It advertises itself as ‘dog friendly’ so we knew we’d be alright to take The Wolf along. But let me tell you- this place has elevated dog friendly to a whole new, tail wagging level.
Ample seating, sensibly distanced from each other. Quieter areas fenced from the hustle and bustle of the cafe, perfect for anxious dogs. A supply of towels to give your pooch a rub down, with separate baskets for clean and dirty. A supply of individual water dishes so you can fill one and take it to your table. And, the cherry on the cake, they sell dog sausages. A cooked to order meaty treat.
Oh, it’s a lovely place for humans too. Lovely coffee, delicious selection of cakes and staffed by a very warm and welcoming bunch. Highly recommend if you’re in the area.
The Peace Garden
A beautiful place, an absolute gem of a find. A quick history to give you the roots of the garden that is there today; the Peace Garden started out as the Woking Muslim Military Cemetery, opened in 1917 to refute German propaganda claiming that Indian soldiers were not being buried in accordance with religious rites. By the 1960’s, due to vandalism, the bodies were exhumed and reinterred in nearby Brookwood Military Cemetery.
The site was handed back to the owners of the common, but with no plan and no funds it became over grown and neglected. In the 1980’s , English Heritage stepped in and listed the site. By the 1990’s, Horsell Common Preservation Society began the long road of reimagining and restoring. Finally, in 2011, funding was secured and work began to create something significant on this historic site.
What has been created, is just beautiful. The walls have been restored, the gilded finial placed over the gates. The interior is an Islamic garden reimagined for the English countryside. It has colour and texture, a water feature and places to sit and reflect.
It’s beautiful, even on a dull January afternoon so I can only imagine what a vibrant place it must be in Spring and Summer.
The soldiers whose sacrifice created this garden have not been forgotten. An Indian granite memorial stone stands proudly engraved with the names of the original burials. Lest We Forget.
The Further Info Bit…
Parking for walking on Horsell Common can be found adjacent to the Heather Farm Cafe. If using a sat nav , use Chobham Rd GU21 4XY. Sturdy footwear recommended, even the foot paths and bridges were muddy and slippy.
Nearest parking for the Peace Garden is Monument Rd, GU21 5LW. No dogs allowed in the garden.
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