April 2021 – In Search of Bluebells

Normally the warming days of Spring, combined with April showers, provide an early carpet of beautiful bluebells to our wooded Surrey Hills and the Weald of Kent. But this year, the unusually cold snap and lack of rain, has set nature’s clock back a week or two. So more in hope than expectation, four of us (Sue Smith, Tom Tom, Asif and me) set off for a recce of Staffhurst Wood, renown for it’s acres of bluebell woods.
En route, we passed through many of our wooded country lanes. Along the north downs ridge at Woldingham, down Clacketts Lane, up and over Limpsfield Chart – but not a sign of any colour blue. We did however stop briefly at the Chart’s village church of St Andrew

The reason for stopping was – a/ because it is such a beautiful old church, b/ The woodlands around Limpsfield Chart would normally be a mass of bluebells – but not yet this year! Also for those not yet in the know, in the summer the church normally does Sunday afternoon teas – a welcome stop for thirsty cyclists! But with Covid still ruling our lives, no news on if or when, the teas will start again this summer.

After the climbs up to Limpsfield Chart, it was a relief to have the steep down hill of wooded, Trevereux Hill to Swaynesland Farm. This being a corruption of swines land, a name denoting it’s historic origin of pigs foraging for acorns in the forests of the weald, or the wilderness of modern English.
After a few more country lanes we came out opposite Staffhurst Wood.

The wood has a network of paths, as can be seen above. Some are wide enough to cycle along – unfortunately all the signage shows them to be footpaths, not bridleways, hence we had to walk! But well worth it because there is much to see.

Alpacas enjoying the sunshine in a woodland meadow
A pond, much reduced in size due to lack of rain!

But what we had come to see – bluebells – in very short supply! A few more days of warm sunshine, still needed before a revisit being worthwhile.
So then it was off to Edenbridge for a tea stop. But the Minstrel Tea Room was still closed – Covid again! Fortunately Costas was open for a latte before heading back to Purley.

This time accompanied by Peter Roberts, Ricky, Asif, Tom Tom, and a different route and different hills to climb!
The first climb being upto Woldingham. via Lunghurst Rd, or as someone in our club called it – Lung Burst Lane – a much more fitting name for this climb upto the heights beside the parish church

Thence to Gangers Hill and the North Downs ridgeway, beside Woldingham Wood. Next, down the very steep and narrow Tandridge Hill Lane, to join the A25 briefly, before turning off into Barrow Green Rd.
At last we saw our first sighting of bluebells after a right turn into Sandy Lane as we headed into Old Oxted.

Old Oxted Mill, now renamed as Coltfords Mill

This is worth a little detour. From Sandy Lane continue straight ahead from Old Oxted, up Beadles Lane. Going down the other side, take a left into Spring Lane and follow it down into the valley of the River Eden. Here you will find the Old Mill, now tarted up as the plush “wedding venue” of Coltsfords Mill. Stop here to enjoy the view!

Views across the old mill pond and woods beyond

Then it was a steep climb up to meet the Hurst Green road on the other side of the river. We soon took a left into Church Way, passed another lovely old flint built parish church, and right into Oast Rd, then a left which takes you past Hurst Green railway station.

The reason for this detour is that old Hurst Green is a charming village, but the new Hurst Green is a drab housing estate! However. of interest for cyclists, is that the railway station now has a tea room! Too new yet, for it to appear on Google!

Continuing on, go over the railway bridge, and instead of our normal right, go straight ahead and up the steep climb of Wolfs Hill (still in old Hurst Green!) and at the very top, Wolfs Row is to the left and right is Pollards Wood Hill.
Wolfs Hill and Wolfs Row are named after General Wolfe who captured Quebec and thus Canada to add to the British Empire. General Wolfe was a local man, whose home is now a National Trust property, open to the public, in Westerham.

But you will be pleased to know, that after climbing Wolfs Hill you go right DOWN Pollards Wood Hill and continue straight on for a couple of miles, passing through Staffhurst Wood, until you come to the main part of the wood. This is via the road, at top left of the map below, to arrive adjacent to the P marking a car park.

Where all the yellow roads meet, there is a footpath running from opposite the car park, diagonally south east ,through the wood to come out on the road near the other car park and Black Robins Farm.
We walked through the wood following this route. At the start the path is very narrow, but after about 100 yards it meets a wide track used by vehicles of the park rangers. This wider track took us eventually, to the road by Black Robbins Farm. But a warning! There are several paths and tracks – so easy to get lost!

Not lost, but found – at last the elusive bluebells! Whilst not yet in full bloom, certainly in spectacular display!

Exiting the wood we continued south, past Black Robins Farm and cut across country to Four Elms via Troy Town, Hilders Lane to Marlpit Hill, and down the B2026 to join the B2027 (Swan Lane) onto Four Elms.
After our tea stop and relaxing in the sun, we set off on a new road, never before visited. This was Bull Lane, an immediate right after exiting the tea stop. A narrow country lane, which eventually comes to a cross roads. Here, 2 options – straight on to join Toys Hill, or turn right – which is the climb up Ide Hill. We chose the latter as not quite such a steep hill!

Strava Ride Stats provided by Ricky: 41:86 miles and 3327 ft of Elevation Gain.