Founders' Tree Walks October 9 2021

Founder's Tree Walk Saturday October 9 2021

Participants: total 30 people plus one dog.

Long walk from Dorking (21.5 miles, 15 people): Leader Gavin Fuller, backmarker Barry Arnold, Ian Watson, Lonica Vanclay, Gordon Parker, Nigel Schofield, Alastair Giddings, Andy Davies, Deborah Weston, Rob Myers, Stephen Ford, Dorte Newman, Jayne Ward, Cathy Phillips.

Medium walk from Gomshall (7 miles, 11 people): Leader Colin Saunders, backmarker Godfrey O’Callaghan, Susanne Waldschmidt, Trish Hewlett, Janet Chapman, Donna Shepherd, Ian Glover, Don Newman, Richard Morley Gail Elrick, John Elrick.

Short walk from Peaslake (3 miles, 3 people): Mary Perry, Dave Williams and Bill Thompson with Daisy dog, plus all of the above.

Zoë Horton (Secretary of the Friends of Hurtwood) joined us at the Founders Tree and walked with us to the Pitch Hill toposcope.

Apologies were received from Paul Lawrence, Claire Betts and Jeff Golland.


The day was very successful with no problems apart from Ian Watson tripped on the way back to Dorking and suffered minor cuts. The weather was ideal, mostly sunny. 17 people had lunch in the Hurtwood Inn restaurant and several others had drinks on the terrace after eating their own food. There was a rather long wait for food to be served, but this was understandable as the kitchen was very busy with meals already ordered by other customers, and everyone agreed the food was excellent and good value.

It was good to see former London Group members Mary Perry and Trish Hewlett, as well as Donna Shepherd (Sylvia Nagarkar’s niece) and her partner Ian Glover (members of Kent Group), and Nigel Schofield (Kathy LoRaso’s partner, member of Essex & Herts Group).

Unfortunately, Don Bolton’s son Ralph and daughter Elaine were unable to attend as she has long Covid. I have offered to organise a repeat event next year for their benefit, as well as any others who could not make this event.

I made a short speech at the tree and passed round a mock-up of the plaque that Ian Fairweather designed, for comment. We continued to the Pitch Hill toposcope to admire the view, then the long walkers returned directly to Dorking while the short and medium walkers returned to Peaslake and Gomshall.

Don Newman, who lives in Peaslake, has kindly offered to visit the tree regularly to check on its welfare and keep down the surrounding vegetation. Mark Beaumont, the Hurtwood ranger, also says he will keep an eye on it.

There were concerned comments that the tree looks rather lopsided. Nigel Schofield sent a photo of it to a former agriculturalist colleague, who commented: “Oaks would not usually be pruned. I wondered if the main leader had been damaged and therefore cut off. Anyway not to worry - oaks are hugely resilient and one of those side shoots will take over as the main leader. It looks very healthy and well protected against deer and rabbits.”

I am most grateful to Godfrey O’Callaghan, Gavin Fuller and Barry Arnold for their support with the walks; to Godfrey, Bill Thompson, Paul Lawrence, Don Newman for their work on obtaining and maintaining the tree; to the Hurtwood Inn for providing an excellent lunch; and to Ian Fairweather for his help with designing the plaque.

Report by Colin Saunders; Photographs by  Janet Chapman, Godfrey O'Callaghan and Gavin Fuller


Long Distance Walk Report

15 walkers, 21.5 miles – leader Gavin Fuller

There was a good turnout at a misty Dorking station for the longest of the walks laid on to the Founders tree. The walk left the down through Denbies vineyard before climbing onto the North Downs where there were some interesting views over the mist and fog in the valley below as the route took in the two locations named for the LDWA’’s founders Steer’s Field and Blatchford Down before descending off the latter down a lesser-used path. The walk then passed through the atmospherically unlit Broomy Downs before heading past Paddington Farm to the quaint old houses of Sutton Abinger, and then to Peaslake to rendezvous with the shorter walk parties at the Hurtwood Inn, arriving bank on the booked time of 12.45 to the leader’s pleasure. After a longer-than-planned lunch stop it was them up en masse to the Founders Tree (see elsewhere for the report of what happened there) whence the exigencies of time meant this group (save one who decided to remain with the other walkers) had to be anti-social and head off to the toposcope at Pitch Hill ahead of the rest, who it met coming back off the hill for a final goodbye, Thence it was on to the highest point of the day at Holmbury Hill before an undulating return to Dorking, not uneventfully with the likes of a newly-fallen tree on a narrow path to negotiate meaning the return to Dorking was somewhat later then intended. This did enable the group to appreciate the magical evening stillness of the area however, which combined with the fact that the train those returning to London caught (save one, who found the lure of Dorking’s Lidl too hard to resist) was one Colin Saunders decided to get due to the previous one being full of drunken ramblers meant the lateness did have some upsides! Curiously both the distance and ascent (1,936ft) were more than when the leader and Barry the backmarker had previously recced the route!

Photographs by Ian Watson and Gavin Fuller