This short circular walk visits Hindhead Common and the Devil’s Punchbowl – a stunning hollow of dry sandy heath beneath Gibbet Hill in Surrey.
Despite covering just 3.5 miles, this route packs a considerable punch of spectacular countryside, intrigue, mystery and legend.
If you believe local myth, the Punchbowl was created by the Devil scooping out large handfuls of earth to throw at Thor, God of Thunder.
The old A3 road from Portsmouth to London that crosses this walk was also once a notorious haunt for murderous highwaymen. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – famous for his Sherlock Holmes books – used to walk on Hindhead Common and is thought to have found inspiration here for The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Today the scenery is more dramatic than the area’s inhabitants, with the huge amphitheatre of the Devil’s Punchbowl dominating the landscape. The large natural bowl was in fact created by water erosion and an impervious layer of clay (not Satan!), and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty surrounding it is an explosion of purple, green and gold in the summer months.
Gibbet Hill is the second highest point in Surrey with great views of the Weald and you should spot plenty of resident wildlife – including some wild ponies – as you stroll through the shady woodlands and open heathland.
This route was voted 76th in a 2017 ITV poll to find Britain’s Favourite Walk.
TOG VERDICT: Myth, legend, wildlife, woodland, hills and magical viewpoints in just a few short miles.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Haslemere, London Waterloo