Date: January 15 2022
Location: Chatley Heath, Surrey
Distance: 8.5 km
It’s been a fun challenge to research walks to go on during this 100 walks challenge, especially looking up locations we haven’t already been to several times. Luckily, we were given a copy of a book called 50 Walks In Surrey and it’s filled with some great walks, with lots of hidden treasures along each one which is definitely right up my street!
Last night while eating dinner we decided to let Siri randomly choose a number out of 50, and that would be our walk. She chose 26 which meant that we were off to the not so far away town of Cobham, for a walk around the Chatley Heath area. A place we’d been many times while driving along the M25 but not to stop and walk around.
We parked the car in a rather random spot off the road and began our walk across some muddy farmers fields (my £10 wellies are definitely getting their money’s worth on these walks!) The weather during our walk was misty with some far off fog lingering in the trees. We crossed the fields and ventured toward the humming M25 motorway.
Even though we’re in the thick of winter, the fog and mist made what colours we did see, seem even more vibrant. The red pop of a mailbox in a pillar, the yellow burst of the gorse flowers and even the green moss and fungus growing on the trees seemed brighter.
Our first destination on the walk was to the Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower, the 60 foot tower was built in 1822 to serve as one of a series of towers to relay messages during the Napoleanic era from London through to Portsmouth on the coast. At the top of the tower is a signal mast that was used by the operator to receive and transmit messages.
The semaphore tower is the only functional tower of it’s kind left in the UK and unfortunately over the years fell in decline. Recently it was renovated and repaired by The Landmark Trust and it is now available to rent as a holiday accommodation (not sure if you can relay messages with it though!), It was a really impressive building to see rising out of the trees and it’s amazing to read how quickly a message could be passed from Greenwich in London all the way to Portsmouth using just the arms on the mast!
We left the the tower and wandered through the open heathland of Ockham Common, wandering through the mud and grasslands before circling back up and through a small stand of Redwood trees. The massive trees did seem a bit out of place in this tiny patch of woodlands, but it was nice to see the healthy trees soaring up. After a few more minutes walk we came to our second destination of the walk, the Samuelson Mausoleum.
The “temple of sleep” was built by Sir Henry Samuelson in 1921 to commemorate his parents and his sister. Henry, who was a Member of Parliament, relocated the remains of his family members from Torquay and had them interred here, in the mausoleum near his house. A large copper table monument was laid on top and the bodies of his mother, father, and sister were placed in the walls of the underground crypt. Unfortunately during the 1960’s, the copper monument was stolen and over time, the crypt was robbed of it’s doors, panels and anything of value was taken. Local legends say that it was a frequent hangout for practicing witches.
It’s certainly a lonely and odd thing to find in the woods, with no real noticeboard or information about who is buried there or what it’s for. It’s slowly being enveloped by the ivy and trees surrounding it.
After leaving the woodlands, we wandered through the lanes and backroads as the sun tried it’s best to shine through. We must have climbed over and through a dozen or more gates and crossings and our boots were well and truly caked in mud by the time we finally circled back to the car, 2 hours and 8km later.