Monday, 4 April 2016

The Devil's Punchbowl | Day out with the National Trust with Digby

On Sunday we met up with the family at the Devil's Punchbowl in the Surrey Hills to celebrate my Dad's birthday. The SatNav got confused thanks to the tunnel and we overshot the junction by several miles but we found it in the end and found it to be a popular walking location with dog-walkers, families and tourists.

The Devil's Punchbowl map information and walk guide Sophie and Lily

We had never visited The Devil's Punchbowl before, but now we have we will certainly re-visit for a longer dog-walk before a meal at the cafe or at the pub a few minutes walk from the Pay and Display car park. The car park payment is the only payment you will need to make towards the National Trust and I expect the money goes towards the running of the cafe and the carpark. One thing we did notice quickly is the lack of bins, dog-bins or otherwise. As responsible dog-owners we were good about clearing up after our spaniel but the one bin near the carpark appeared to be full until we discovered other people were simply being lazy and not opening the bin. Overall for dog-walkers a good principal for clearing up would be the 'stick and flick' idea unless it is a busy pathway.

The wood carving at the Devil's Punchbowl carpark Sophie and Lily
Decorative wood carving at the carpark
There are several walks ranging in length and some take more all-terrain paths than others. We started at the top on the 'Sailor's Stroll'
and walked around the Devil's Punchbowl observing the views which were amazing. We were treated to such a lovely day with only a few drops of rain, perfect for a good birthday walk and meal outside. Paths include quiet zones which exclude horses and some are ideal for cycles and pushchairs.

View at the top of the Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and LilyThe first walk we took was a warm-up for Digby who spent periods of time on the lead as his recall varies what with him going through his teenage spaniel stage. Once he sees a dog in the distance he is off and just wants to play with another pack animal. The more we drifted from the path there were fewer children with their scooters and fewer cyclists so he could have a very energetic run, here there and everywhere.

Digby the show cocker spaniel puppy at the Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

On our return to the carpark which had got quite full, we decided to sit outside for our lunch. Hot food is served until 2:30 so we were in time. We ate jacket potatoes with salad and coleslaw, carrot and coriander soup with bread and butter and Rob could even eat something; beef chilli with rice. The cafe assistant double-checked whether there was any gluten or dairy in it which was very helpful. It isn't often that we find a NT cafe where Rob can eat a hot meal, but he enjoyed his bowlful and Alexander helped him with the rice. We had teas, coffees and hot chocolates, Lily had a strawberry cornetto and we enjoyed flapjack and slices of victoria sponge cake before we set off on another walk which saw us meet a gorgeous flurry white and cream cat. Digby didn't even notice!

Fluffy cream and white fluffy cat seen at the Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

Rob, Digby and I persevered with the Highcombe Hike walk which wound its way along the valley before taking us back up to the carpark and cafe. I was glad that Digby pulled on the lead on the way up, he helped me with the steep terrain. Portions of the walk required Digby to be kept on a lead due to grazing animals, which we didn't actually see.

Strolling along the Highcombe Hike at the Devil's Punch Bowl Sophie and Lily

We came across an interwoven border of trees which reminded us of the Kings Road from HBO's A Game of Thrones. I think the real location of the tree-lined road is in Ireland.

Tree lined path Game of Thrones esque The Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

Sophie perching on a gap in the interwoven trees at the Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

By the end of the walk he was actually flagging; an unusual sight as he is a very energetic cocker spaniel due to his age. He was glad to sit down and have a nice rest in the car before heading back for a bath and removal of the bits of spiky gorse he had accumulated in his hairy trouser fur.

Lily and Alexander having a break from walking at The Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

As for Alexander and Lily, they had a really good time walking holding hands with their grandparents and auntie. Alexander spent the majority of the walk in the pushchair either asleep or snacking before he donned his welly boots and his new Next waterproof jacket and toddled along. It wasn't long before he fell over and faceplanted in mud, but he was pretty jolly about it.

Overall, we had a fantastic day out there and we anticipate that we will visit The Devil's Punchbowl again soon, especially when the weather becomes less erratic. It was good for Digby to have off-lead time with other dogs too and Lily spotted some insects too. Oh yes, apparently Thor made the Devil's Punchbowl, good old Paganism!

spotting insects at The Devil's Punchbowl Sophie and Lily

Have you visited a National Trust property or park recently?

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