A hugely enjoyable, easy ramble through two very pretty local villages. The route meanders along the Wey and Arun canal and across some beautiful countryside – both wooded and open, with wide skies and broad green horizons. There are several surprises along the way – including Hascombe Hill’s bizarre and particularly intriguing, but little known, stone circle.
The starting point is the Sun Inn, overlooking the village green at Dunsfold and shouldered by a line, in either direction, of chocolate box cottages and smart houses with crunchy shingle drives. The Sun is a good post walk lunch stop, and there’s easy parking around the large green opposite.
For an extra bonus, plan this walk for a Thursday, and equip yourself with a big backpack; Cranleigh’s diverse open air farmers market is a fun diversion half way round. You’ll be rewarded with a bounty of quality locally grown food and artisan delights to enjoy.
Ancient woodland will be carpeted with bluebells in late spring
Dunsfold’s airfield is well known locally as the home of the Top Gear series, as well as being a successful filming location for several blockbusters, including Casino Royale and The Da Vinci Code.
The aerodrome began life in 1942, when it was constructed as an emergency airfield by the First Canadian Army. A variety of aircraft, including B-25 Mitchell bombers, Typhoons, Mustangs, Mosquitoes and Spitfires flew from the completed site until around 1945. Immediately following the war, Dunsfold airfield was used as a repatriation centre for more than 47,000 prisoners, who were returned to their home lands.
If diverting off route slightly, into Cranleigh, the variety of cafes make a good refreshment. Many offer outdoor seating – neat tables spill out onto the bustling high street, with cheerful staff offering finger-licking refreshments. A convivial vantage point for watching the world go by, Parisian style!
Like many towns and villages, Cranleigh is expanding. There is a huge amount of building going on along the outskirts. This walk takes a path that has been shunted to one side of it’s natural route; skimming a slim stip between heavy mesh fencing and a wooded strip dividing the old town and what is soon to be a new development of perhaps almost comparative proportions.
A little way down, opposite the piles of bricks, neatly stacked pipes, and growling bulldozers, remains beautiful countryside – a stark contrast and reminder, perhaps, of what the frenzied, muddy mass must have been just months earlier.
Past Cranleigh and towards the site of an Iron Age fort on Hascombe Hill. The peak of the hill offers spectacular, long views past plump sheep, across Surrey and Sussex’s countryside, and way beyond.
But the real treat is Dragonstone Stone Circle… which resembles a mini Stonehenge (with mellow sheep in place of tourists, and no sign of the A303’s traffic congestion!)
Astonishingly, Hascombe Hill’s Dragonstone Circle was erected by modern day Druids in August 1998 – October 1999, using only equipment employed by the ancients (other than the initial transport of the stones from a Portland quarry). Wooden packing and leavers were utilised to shift and gradually lift the magnificent 3 – 10 tonne boulders into place.
An account from one of the building team, who met at weekends to work on the mammoth project, pointed out that one of the key learning points for the modern day team was how to work in perfect synchronicity.
Mattie Stepanek, 1990 – 2004,
Where there is teamwork and collaboration
wonderful things can happen.”
The Hascombe Dragonstone circle does seem to have a magical, spiritual presence; an energy that draws you to it, and stop a while.
Ivor MacBeth, who led the team of volunteers building the circle, recounted the difficulty that the team had manhandling the great 10-tonne North Stone into position:
“We had been struggling to shift this monster for twenty minutes, yet it refused to budge. A member of the team pulled me aside and told me that we were doing it all wrong. The stone had “spoken” to her and it was not happy. It felt neglected and dishonored by our attitude towards it. It wanted us to communicate with it in a respectful way, and to make an effort to understand what it meant to be a stone. I asked everyone to gather around the stone, and to place their hands on its surface… It had spent five hundred million or so years deep under the surface of the earth, only to be extracted, loaded onto a truck and carried up a motorway at seventy miles an hour and then dumped in a strange field. There it was moved and manipulated by a bunch of strange people. It was time to build a proper, loving and respectful relationship with the spirit of the stones…
I asked the team (which at that moment numbered about fifty people) to welcome it to the field. Then I asked them to explain why it had been brought here, by visualizing it among a ring of stones standing proudly and powerfully on top of the hill, creating sacred space together and radiating healing out into the environment. I then asked those present to visualize the stone’s next movement, which was to move on its rollers about ten feet to where it was to be placed…
When this was complete, I asked everyone to return to their former positions and to be careful not to dissipate their state of mind by talking. On the count of two we pulled – and the stone glided effortlessly to its intended position!
This was an extraordinary lesson for all of us. We learnt that everything has consciousness, and everything needs respect if a healthy and fruitful relationship is to grow.”
The descent passes a neat pair of ‘double cottages’, well named.
Then through a couple of gate houses and onto a main road for a short stint – the route turns left rather than right, as noted at the start of the final paragraph on the instructions. A correction that’s important to remember, as lingering on the narrow road with vehicles racing by is not recommended!
A final field to cross and along the drive of a quiet farm, then suddenly you will be back in Dunsfold, with the welcome sight of the green and Sun Inn.
For the route, follow the link to Vantage Point here – just beware of the need to turn left, not right, at the ‘T’ junction referred to, just past the coach houses, at the start of the final paragraph. See other great local walks here.
Ivan MacBeth, Druid teacher healer & lead builder of the Dragonstone Circle:“As I grew older, I realised that most of the people I met were sad, somehow separated from the happiness that I knew was our natural, potential state of being.
I remembered my experiences as a child among the magic stones on the moors and wished I could recreate those wonderful healing atmospheres for everyone.”