On 17th February 28 Surrey Hills Society members set off in the mist from the top of Ranmore Common to slither down the muddy hillside through the woodland of the Polesden Lacey Estate, accompanied by Simon Akeroyd (Garden and Countryside Manager for the National Trust at Polesden Lacey) and Andy Goodwin ( Senior Ranger). They gave us an insight into the challenges in managing the Estate, which includes an area of Special Scientific Interest and is within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They told us about an illegal mountain bike course, where substantial trees had been felled to make a path and about the conflict of managing a green lane which crosses the property.
We were shown areas that were being cleared to allow more plants and wildlife to flourish and to enhance the view across the valley to Polesden Lacey House. We also saw fallen beech trees and were told how they would be managed to meet the needs for public access whilst allowing natural rotting and regeneration. Trees are inspected regularly in order to maintain the safety of the public. We then traversed some of the open fields on the estate through the warm sunshine, discussing the farming that takes place by the two tenant farmers.
After lunch at the Polesden Lacey visitor facilities, we took a different route back up to Ranmore Common, viewing some of the fantastic sun soaked vistas across the slopes to the House and experiencing Simon’s favourite view from the orchard behind Yew Tree Farm.
Back at Ranmore Common, the mist having cleared, we were now able to enjoy the magnificent view across Dorking, that had been obscured at the start of the walk.