A long time ago, when giving directions to our house in Haslemere, we would say, cross the M25 then keep following the A3 until you get to the first set of lights, where you turn left. We can’t do that now. Not because we no longer live in Haslemere but because the A3 has been permanently diverted through a tunnel.
I know I’ve mentioned it before but the stretch of what once was the A3 at Hindhead and is now National Trust land, is wonderful. The NT land either side of the old road can now meet. Walkers no longer have to watch the almost constant gridlock. It’s all so peaceful now.
Today, we decided to take the dogs up to Hindhead and walk where the cars once dominated.
There was a slight concern that we’d not be able to park in the NT car park until Mirinda pointed out that we probably wouldn’t have to pay because we’re members. This was very good because we didn’t have any money with us.
Happily parked, we dragged the poodles, kicking and screaming out of the car, and set off along the old A3.
A pedestrian path takes over from the route of the old A3 and we joined the rest of the Sunday walkers happily wandering along it, heading towards the Sailor’s Stone.
All was lovely and peaceful and then we saw four four wheel drives heading along the path. They were quite a distance from us but it was still a surprise to see vehicles on an ex-road. We were further surprised when a small sedan drove up behind us carrying four (what appeared to be) teenagers. They were driving sedately but even so. This was quite annoying.
A little latter we also saw two transit vans parked on the side of the path. Seriously? What’s that about? Very irritating.
But enough of that…we continued along the path until we reached the stone. It commemorates the murder of an unknown sailor who, while visiting the Red Lion Inn in Thursley one night in 1786, bought drinks for three other sailors he met there.
They all set off together for Portsmouth but, as they crossed the hill at Hindhead, the three other sailors set upon him and killed him, stripping him of his goods and clothes. They were caught in Rake, trying to sell their ill gotten gains.
The three of them were hanged at Gibbets Hill, not far from where they murdered the unknown sailor. And that was where we headed next.
Their bodies were left hanging on the hill for ages as a warning to others. The bodies have long since vanished and now, in their place there’s a trig point and a Celtic cross. This is the view from the trig point.
The cross was erected in 1851 by Sir William Erle when a lot of local people despaired about the ghosts that hung around the place. The magic cross was supposed to chase the demons away and leave the locals to sleep a lot easier in their beds.
Walking back to the path, we continued on for a bit before heading down towards the actual A3. Well, what used to be the A3.
We walked quite a way along the route, particularly pleased that the road will eventually become woodland, with new growth appearing inside lots of deer protectors. There’s a lot of variety in species selection. It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like in about a decade.
We then walked back along the ex-highway to Sidney and, eventually, home. A glorious walk.