BOAT: Sheepwalk Lane

Location: Sheepwalk Ln, London, Surrey, UK
  • Overall Rating: 5
  • Location: East Horsley, Surrey.
  • OS Explorer Map 146, 'Dorking, Box Hill & Reigate, Leatherhead & Caterham.'
  • Starting OS Grid Reference: TQ095502
  • Starting GPS Co-ordinates: N51 24' 10" W000 43' 30"
  • Finishing OS Grid Reference: TQ120500
  • Finishing GPS Co-ordinates: N51 23' 80" W000 39' 70"
  • To see: Lovelace BridgesRanmore CommonEffingham Forest.
  • ALWAYS follow the Greenlane Code!
Troy Bridge
Sheepwalk Lane is a byway brought to you by bridges. Well, not bridges as such any longer as they serve no discernible purpose these days. However, built by the Earl of Lovelace in the 19th century, these so called Lovelace Bridges (which total  fifteen  in all) were built to ease the passage of the horse-drawn carts hauling felled timber on his woodland estate, but the old chap went rather overboard and gave them such architectural embellishments as his trademark flintwork, arrow slits and date-plaques! There is a walking trail right around all fifteen of them, which is detail here.

On to the byway itself, and annoyingly it is split over two maps. The far western tip (where we began) is on OS Explorer Map 145 'Guildford & Farnham', and is accessed by driving down a country road called Honeysuckle Bottom. Look out for the cottage with its very own railway in the garden (I kid you not!) on the right hand side. The path to take is pretty obvious: right at the end of the (barely) metalled section of Honeysuckle Bottom, where all the freshly felled timber is stacked up, Sheepwalk Lane heads east and uphill through pleasant Effingham Forest on a surface of mixed gravel and mud. It's very easy going even in the wettest conditions: almost entirely unrutted, well cut back and you could drive a tank under both bridges.

Troy Bridge is the first one encountered (see above). Pass under it and the lane curves gently around to the left, climbing ever slowly up. Further along a second (unnamed, as far as I know) bridge is encountered abeam a house called The Hermitage.

Eventually the summit of this lane is reached atop White Downs, where another byway called Beggars Lane merges with ours. It is sadly closed to 4x4's (but, perhaps unfairly, open to trail bikers) and is gated off accordingly. Instead, bear round to the left and head eastwards.

The lane is soon crossed by a country lane called White Down Lane, and on each side of the crossing nasty looking gates have been erected to discourage fly-tipping scum. The width restriction is precisely 7', and not an inch more. However, that is just enough to squeeze a Defender 110' through with great care, as the council have also embedded stone kerbs in the surface to further complicate matters. They really rock the suspension if hit wrong which in turn can rock you car sideways into the posts, so use a spotter if you're not confident.

After crossing the lane, Sheepwalk Lane climbs steeply uphill for a stretch before jinking to the left slightly and finishing (via another 7' barrier) on Ranmore Common Road, just west of the car park for the common itself. A brilliant sylvanian lane, one of the best in the area, and so it's well worth a visit.

View Sheepwalk Lane in a larger map

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