Welcome to The Hurtwood
A Unique and Beautiful World of Heath and Forest in the Heart of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Unique, in its partnership between the landowners - principally the Lords of the Manor of Shere, Albury and Ockley – and the Friends of the Hurtwood, originally formed in 1926 and later given Charity status in the 60s. The Friends of the Hurtwood secure the funding and support required to maintain this beautiful area for the benefit of the public. More than 90 years ago, Reggie Bray, Lord of the Manor of Shere, granted the public a ‘right to roam’ with ‘open access for air and exercise’ on the Hurtwood – one of the first estates in England to do so. This set a pioneering example of a landowner welcoming the public on to his land and finding a way of working with the public that would benefit both the land and the people. Open access is available to bird watchers, dog walkers, horseback riders, mountain bikers and anyone who enjoys the fresh air!

Beautiful, as its jewels are Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill, two magnificent greensand peaks, which with the Winterfold ridge, offer stunning views over the Weald to the South Downs. And there are also magical pine woods and heather heaths, ponds and glades, wildlife and wilderness.


About the Hurtwood

Come and Explore

The four areas that make up the Hurtwood cover a total of 3,000 acres south of the A25 at Shere. These tracts of high ground were traditionally forested and the largest area stretches from Peaslake to Holmbury St Mary and includes Holmbury Hill with its Iron Age Hill Fort.

Between Peaslake, Ewhurst and Cranleigh, is the area including Pitch Hill and Reynards Hill, Winterfold.  Blackheath and Farley Heath, including the Roman Temple, make up the third area and Shere Heath at Little London completes the territories of the Hurtwood.

Click here to see a map of the Hurtwood.

What Is There To Do?

The Hurtwood invites exploration by foot, horse, or bicycle.

It is crisscrossed by a welcoming network of footpaths and bridlepaths that enable visitors to choose anything from a short brisk dog walk to an all-day adventure. Tracks range from wide fire breaks to trails barely wider than a cycle tyre and there are circular routes.

There are also paths linking the four areas that avoid roads. The hill tops provide a focal point and the shops and pubs of the Hurtwood Villages of Shere, Peaslake, Holmbury St Mary, Ewhurst, Albury and Blackheath, offer refreshments.  Here are a few  favorite walks to enjoy:

We do want you to be aware that the Hurtwood is a natural environment with many hidden obstacles as well as man-made ditches and banks to prevent fly-tipping; you visit the Hurtwood entirely at your own risk. Any planned or commercial activities require prior approval; please contact the Ranger for assistance. 

What Is There To See?

This is a special place.

Motorised vehicles are not allowed in, the exception being for forestry activities or other authorised projects, and wildlife is encouraged. The silver-studded blue butterfly, sand lizard and slow worm and rare birds such as nightjars and redcaps, wood warblers and linnets all find a home here. Roe deer hide among the bilberries – known as Hurts - and badgers and foxes abound.

The Hurtwood has an ancient history. The ramparts and ditches of the Iron Age Hillfort are clearly visible today and the floorplan of the Romano Celtic temple at Farley Heath has been reconstructed. There were Roman villas nearby and a Roman road linked the temple with Stane Street.

Who Looks After It?

 Although the Hurtwood is owned by a few private landowners, the care of the Hurtwood’s 60 miles of trails and the 15 car parks and general safety of the public is the responsibility of the Friends of the Hurtwood, a small charity with the aim of maintaining the natural beauty and improving public access so that everyone can enjoy this much loved landscape.

 The Friends do this with limited resources, through grants from the landowners and local authorities, annual subscriptions from members and through much needed donations from individuals and organisations. Currently the grants that the Friends receive cover just under half of the cost of maintaining the Hurtwood so your donations and membership subscriptions are vitally important to enable the Friends to continue to maintain the standard of access that we all currently enjoy, and give us the ability to make improvements in the future.

Can I Help?

YES! You can become a Friend.

Through your subscription, you will make a vital contribution to the work of the Friends of the Hurtwood, helping to maintain this precious part of Surrey for all to enjoy. By becoming a Friend, you will be able to find out more about the Hurtwood and its wild inhabitants, become more in tune with the changes of the seasons and play an active part in maintaining it while making new friends through a shared love of the countryside.

Click here to make a donation and become a Friend of the Hurtwood.

Help Protect It

Love the Hurtwood and help us to protect it.

Please follow the Hurtwood code:

  • Respect the environment and its wildlife
  • Take your litter home
  • No fires or barbecues
  • No motorcycles or vehicles
  • No unauthorised digging or trail building
  • No shooting
  • No felling or removal of wood
  • No camping or caravans 
Please show consideration for the rights and safety of other users of The Hurtwood and enjoy this special place.