On arrival, visitors to Thursley National Nature Reserve are warned not to touch any suspicious objects and to report them to the police. Worrying stuff for such a seemingly placid part of the world...

All becomes clear however with the attached note: “parts of the reserve have previously been used for military training.” Fair enough then; just make sure to avoid the bombs and tank traps.

At 325 hectares, Thursley NNR is one of the largest remaining fragments of a once extensive area of heathland in Surrey.

In 2006, a fire tore through the area for five days, devastating the site and most of the 1.3km boardwalk, which ran across the common’s boggy and less accessible areas.

Natural England led the project to replace the boardwalk, which reopened in September 2012, and estimated that it took 2,100 hours to complete, 80% of which was carried out by volunteers.

It’s an impressive bit of work - traversing trees along its route - and a truly beautiful location to ramble around.

I look forward to returning to watch the over 20 species of dragonflies and damselflies dancing around the open ponds and ditches of the reserve later this year – although I think we’ll do our best to avoid the bog raft spiders that apparently thrive here…

Where are your favourite Surrey walks?


P.S. I'll update you on how I came across this little fella tomorrow...