Staffhurst Wood: bluebells and stiles
24 April 2021
The main purpose of this 9 mile walk was to see the magnificent display of bluebells in Staffhurst Wood near Oxted, Surrey. Due to the recent spell of dry and cold I was not optimistic – the more so as bluebells on a walk only five days previously were stubbornly only just poking their closed stems above ground level. However the Staffhurst bluebells put on a marvelous show for us – almost achieving a carpet of deep purple blue and exceptionally pretty when peppered with delicate white wood aconites.
The weather was cold, breezy and very bright – perfect for walking. Fourteen Morley Ramblers turned up, enduring the tedium of rail replacement buses in both directions.
The morning took us through suburban snickets, well-heeled residential roads and gave beautiful vistas over the Low Weald and the Eden Valley. Following footpaths and the bridleway across Limpsfield Common we passed across a golf course, through woodland, beside ponds, skirted farms and paused in front of the impressive C16 Tenchleys Manor.
Just after crossing the railway line to East Grinstead there is a run of four inconvenient, impossible, badly maintained, wobbly and very high stiles thwarting a smooth entry into Staffhurst Wood. Most of us opted to navigate these by an underground route – this could have been a sticky choice had there been rain.
Predictably the leader got lost in the woods and we performed a circle round the South section, emerging in the car park for the second time. The lunchtime pub was closed – apparently being refurbished. However all had come forewarned against losing the way in the woods and were well provided with picnics. We nevertheless enjoyed a virtual pint, relaxing in the pub garden which we reached via the road and not, as intended, across the fields.
The afternoon route lay across fields – with more stiles requiring a high stride. Despite the lack of rain the streams were flowing and we saw a fisherman landing a respectable sized fish from a shallow stream by Foyle Farm much to the delight of three small sons.
The walk ended after a succession of three millponds just below Hurst Green. At the station a crotchety bus driver, posing as a train driver, allowed us to board – provided we sat together; social distance – but not masks – was dispensed with. So was tea, as the excellent café where we had enjoyed coffee in the morning was closed when we reached Oxted.
This was a new walk for the group and by general consensus well worth repeating.
Sue H (photos and text)