Great Ridings Wood

This wood is made up of a number of old plantations, shaws and cleared fields that have reverted to woodland over the past century or so.

The Great Ridings Wood was purchased from funds raised by public appeal in 1996 plus generous donations from the various local councils, etc. The freehold was placed with the East Horsley Parish Council and then leased to the Woodland Trust to maintain it for the next millennium. The Wood covers some 78 acres and on the north-eastern boundary adjoins Greatlee and Littlelee Woods. However these very large woods are still in private hands, with no access - not even a footpath!

Lots of work has been carried out in the wood in the period since its acquisition to improve public access, mainly by volunteers. The wood has become very popular with walkers, and children enjoy building their dens in among the trees - which is just as it should be. This is a great wood with many splendid trees and paths, plus good areas (though not widespread) of bluebells. Orchids are present, as are many other plants including a rather rare, Green Hellebore.

Some of the old fieldnames exist on old maps - how about Brambletye, Clayhangar, and the Walleps, for starters! The wood is split by the Old London Lane, which is almost certainly an ancient packhorse route from the Tillingborne Valley (Shere or Gomshall) to London. These pack animals may have carried iron products, banknote paper and even gunpowder from Chilworth.

Thomas Cobbett the fiery 18th Century farmer, come journalist, writer, and much else, and a native of Farnham, to boot; once said 'Money and Gunpowder - the two most damnable inventions known to Man!' Horses still travel the route today - but only the hacking variety!

A very interesting feature that parallels the Old London Lane to the west side and which approximates to the current Effingham parish Boundary, is the old Hundred boundary bank that still stands to a height of six feet in parts. This bank marked the division between the Woking and Copthorne Hundreds. Why a hundred? Because it was the Saxon unit containing a hundred hides. What was a Hide? It was the area of land required to support one family - or more importantly to the Saxons; one fighting male!  It was not an exact measure as it depended upon the quality of the land - the better the land, the smaller the area.  So; as you can see, this is a very old feature indeed and shows that things have not changed very much around here for centuries.

The Wood may be reached from the north using the Old London Lane from Effingham Common, from the south via Dirtham Lane, from the east by Orestan Lane in Effingham and from the west by High Park Avenue or Norrels Ride, in East Horsley. A footpath near to the end of Woodland Drive (East Horsley) directly enters the Wood.   A bridleway which makes use of Lynx Hill
(East Horsley) passes between the Tennis Club and Pennymead Lake joins up with the Old London Lane (Bridleway 132).