If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise – well you certainly are if you visit Banstead Woods in Surrey!
If you keep your eyes peeled you should be able to spot some wooden sculptures depicting scenes from the much loved CS Lewis book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If your family are a fan of this popular children’s tale it will be one sure way to encourage them to get outside on a woodland adventure.
It was our first time of visiting and actually I had no previous knowledge it was there until noticing a photo on Instagram of one of the Narnia carvings. If we’re not following each other on Instagram, you can find me here Instagram.com/countryramblesblog – I follow back! We managed to find the Holly Lane car park fairly easily, it was a short drive from the A217 near Banstead. Banstead Woods has a long history, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 and was owned by royalty for many years. The Banstead Park Estate, as it was previously known, was a deer park during medieval times, protecting the royal deer.
We parked the car and walked through a gate enclosing a small field as this seemed the natural direction to walk in. There was a sign in the field saying to keep dogs on leads as there may be livestock grazing. At the time of our visit we didn’t notice any livestock but kept the dogs on their leads for this part, just in case. Walking through the gate the other side, we were able to spot our first sculpture of Lucy standing by the lamppost, the beautiful carvings are a pretty decent size actually, not just miniatures. They were created from deadwood found onsite, a perfect bit of upcycling! We let the dogs off the lead here and discovered the easily recognisable and majestic Aslan before rambling up the hill, following the fairly natural path. Just look at how much detail there is in these wonderful sculptures! We stayed on the main path for the most part, but as the whole area covers 250 acres, if you wished to explore further you easily could do. As it was our first visit and we hadn’t really researched any particular route, we didn’t want to wander too far and get lost. Oh yes – this has happened to us on more than one occasion. The last time was at Limpsfield and we didn’t make a conscious effort to remember where we had parked the car, not realising that there were quite a few other car parks in the same area.
Anyway I’m getting off track now, back to Banstead Woods, it was a really lovely walk, we came across a few other dog owners and ramblers, not that many though and the dogs had a great run around. They love woodland walks, I’m guessing there are lots of different scents for them to chase around after (as well as the ball we took with us.) There were quite a few signposts around and another feature, which I thought was quite lovely was that there were wooden signs depicting nature and wildlife, for example one had a carving of a badger. This would be fab for getting the children to look out for the different signs and also to learn more about nature and wildlife during the visit.
On our walk, through this ancient woodland, we also came across a rather large carving of an open-doored wardrobe, complete with wooden hanging clothes and close by, down a slope, we spotted a tall sculpture of the White Witch. I’m not sure if there were any others but these are the ones that we saw. Eventually we got back to the car and I would guess that we probably walked about three miles.
We are so lucky having hidden gems like this close by and always love a woodland walk, getting close to nature and discovering new places to explore.
What you need to know:
- Parking at the Holly Lane car park is free, you can find your way there by popping CR5 3NR into your sat-nav or phone.
- There was a dog bin close by the car park but we didn’t spot any more within the actual woods.
- Some of the walk was up and down hill and the path was quite unmade in some parts, especially the way we walked down the hill so you would want to make sure you wear appropriate footwear.
- If you prefer to follow a particular trail, there are some available online if you search Banstead Woods.
- The walk is dog friendly and child friendly, although
youyour child might have a bumpy ride if you have a pushchair.