Main Walk: 15½ km (9.6 miles). Four hours 5 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8 hours.
Circular Walk, returning to Chipstead: 14 km (8.7 miles). Three hours 40 minutes walking time.
Two Short Walks, omitting Mugswell: 7¼ km (4.5 miles). One hour 55 minutes walking time.
Explorer 146. Chipstead, map reference TQ276583, is in Surrey, 6 km S of Sutton.
5 out of 10 (3-4 with short cuts; 2 for the Short Walks).
Just outside the London boundary, this undulating walk takes in a varied landscape of ancient woodland, open downs and farmland. You will have plenty of company in the popular recreational areas of Banstead Wood and Chipstead Downs, but few dog-walkers venture across the railway into the network of footpaths, horse rides and quiet lanes which make up the middle section of the walk.
Near the start the main route follows a substantial part of the Banstead Woods Nature Trail, highlighting the diversity of species in this ancient woodland. Until the mid-19thC its oak trees were an important source of compass timber: large curved or crooked pieces of wood artificially shaped to make specialised sections for the wooden naval ships of that era.
On the other side of the railway an attractive section through the Long Plantation Meadow of Shabden Park takes you to a more remote area of narrow paths (which can be overgrown in summer) and quiet country lanes, with an out-of-the-way pub for lunch.
The return route initially heads towards Kingswood (once a royal manor used for hunting by Henry VIII) but then breaks off to weave its way back to Chipstead Downs alongside the outward route. The final leg is across farmland sadly disfigured by a singularly unappealing office building, but a large country pub close to Kingswood station should revive your spirits for the journey home.
Two short cuts are given for the Main Walk. The morning short cut saves 2 km by taking a more direct route through Banstead Wood, useful if you miss a train and have to start half an hour behind the main group. The afternoon short cut saves 5 km and is not particularly appealing in its own right, but has been included as a way of truncating the walk after lunch.
In mid-afternoon you could head north along Chipstead Downs to complete a slightly shorter Circular Walk.
Because the main route crosses over itself twice, you can contrive an afternoon or summer evening walk by cutting out the loop to Mugswell and its lunch pub. The first of these Short Walks takes the main route through Banstead Wood and then heads directly for Kingswood; the other takes the shorter outward route and turns round at the second route crossing, returning to Chipstead.
Chipstead and Kingswood are adjacent stations on the Tattenham Corner line, which has a half-hourly off-peak service from London Bridge (switching to Victoria on Mon–Fri evenings). All the stations on this branch line are in Travelcard Zone 6. At most times of the day the journey takes around 40 minutes but is significantly longer in the evenings and on Sundays.
There are no bus routes in the area but the nature of the walk route means that you are never too far from one of these stations if you want to abandon the walk.
Car drivers could start from the large free car park off Holly Lane, near where the walk route enters Banstead Wood.
Take the train nearest to 10:20 from London Bridge to Chipstead.
The suggested lunchtime stop is the Well House Inn (01737-830640) in Mugswell, halfway through the Main Walk. This 16thC country pub has a pleasant back garden on a grassy slope and serves lunch until 2.30pm Mon–Sat, 4pm Sun.
The suggested tea place on the Main Walk is the Kingswood Arms (01737-354053), close to the station (it was originally the Station Hotel). This attractive country pub and restaurant has a large garden and patio area.
On the Circular Walk the only convenient place is the Ramblers Rest (01737-552661) on Outwood Lane. This nicely-refurbished pub is 1 km from Chipstead station by the most direct route, so allow 15-20 minutes to catch a train.
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Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
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Walk Options ( Main | Circular | Short )
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- Main Walk (15½ km)
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- Chipstead Station to Banstead Wood (¾ km)
- Banstead Wood to Stagbury Downs (main route) (3 km)
- Stagbury Downs to Fames Rough (½ km)
- Banstead Wood to Stagbury Downs (short cut) (1 km)
- Stagbury Downs to the Long Plantation (1¾ km)
- The Long Plantation to the Well House Inn (2¼ km)
- The Well House Inn to Waterhouse Lane (1 km)
- Waterhouse Lane to the Long Plantation (1¼ km)
- The Long Plantation to Outwood Lane (2 km)
- Outwood Lane to Fames Rough (½ km)
- Fames Rough to Kingswood Station (3 km)
- Waterhouse Lane to Kingswood Station direct (1¾ km)
- Outwood Lane to the Ramblers Rest (¾ km)
- The Ramblers Rest to Chipstead Station (1¼ or 1 km)
- Downland route (1¼ km)
- Roadside route (1 km)
Go down Station Approach and turn left at the bottom onto the B2032 (Outwood Lane). Shortly after the junction with the B2219, take a permissive path on the right. Veer left in front of the corner of Holly Lane car park and follow the path into Banstead Wood. Take the main track uphill for 200m to a fork.
Arriving from London, cross the footbridge and bear left out of the station. Go downhill past a parade of shops on Station Approach and turn left at the bottom onto the B2032 (Outwood Lane). Go past a mini-roundabout at its junction with the B2219 and a side road on the left, then cross Outwood Lane carefully and take a permissive path onto the downland.
Shortly before the path reaches a corner of Holly Lane car park veer left through a wooden gate onto a surfaced path going uphill; as you approach the trees you pass a hollow on your right containing a series of information panels about Chipstead Downs SSSI1.
Keep ahead at a footpath crossing, signposted to Perrotts Farm. The path goes through a short yew avenue and comes to another path junction where you fork right onto a broad path into Banstead Wood, leaving the public footpath.
Banstead Wood has many paths and to help with navigation the main route follows part of a Nature Trail, marked with numbered posts.
Just inside the entrance ① ignore a path on the right by an old pedunculate oak. The main path climbs steeply and in 200m you come to a fork in front of a plantation of larch ②.
If you are taking the morning short cut, go to §4.
Fork right at post 2 onto a broad path heading west. At Park Farm veer right and left to continue in the same direction. After crossing a driveway follow the path round to the left to head south, eventually coming to a major path junction near Perrotts Farm. Head south-east and turn left on reaching a pond. At the next path junction turn right and follow the trail out of the wood onto a wide grassy path across Stagbury Downs to post 15.
Fork right at the path junction, continuing to follow the Nature Trail. The path swings left to head W, in 350m passing a hornbeam coppice stool ③. In 150m stay on the main path as it veers right and then left, passing a large old hornbeam ④.
Ignore a wide track off to a yard on the right but shortly afterwards turn right as indicated at a path crossing. Follow the path round to the left in front of an old orchard ⑤. Later you pass a line of horse chestnuts ⑥ and some beeches ⑦ felled by the 1987 Great Storm.
The path crosses a driveway flanked by horse barriers and curves round to the left to head S, passing a large beech ⑧, areas with invasive (but colourful) rhododendron ⑨ and a Scots pine ⑩ with an owl nesting box. Soon after the path merges with a wider path from the left by an ash ⑪.
In a further 200m another path joins from the left. Follow the waymarked route S on a short section of narrow paths (not shown on the OS map) to reach a bench by a group of large trees. At a major path junction here keep ahead onto a broad path heading SE.
You pass a rowan ⑫ and a large sweet chestnut coppice stool ⑬, then come to a fenced pond on the left by a sessile oak ⑭. Turn left by the pond and follow a path heading roughly NE for about 150m.
At the first path junction turn right as indicated. In 125m keep ahead across the wide perimeter path around the edge of the wood, passing an impressive sweet chestnut with a latticed bark pattern. Make your way out onto a semi-open area, Stagbury Downs2.
Continue on a wide grassy path between shrubs and small trees. In 300m bear right at a path junction ⑮ where the short cut joins from the left.
Unless you are going directly to Kingswood on the Short Walk, continue the directions at §5.
Go out into the top of a field and turn right to go around its edge. Leave in the bottom corner and go through a belt of trees. Turn right onto a footpath running along the top of a semi-open area to Fames Rough.
Go through a wide gap in the trees ahead into a field (with a fine view across Chipstead valley) and turn right. Go around two sides of the field and leave through a gap in the trees in the bottom corner. Keep right at a path junction to go through a belt of trees, passing a marker post for the Banstead Countryside Walk3. Before the path starts to descend past a more open area, there is a path off to the left and another to the right.
For the Short Walk to Kingswood, turn right onto the public footpath running along the top of this semi-open area, with a fence on the left and woodland on the right. In 200m a path which has been slanting its way up this open area (the Main Walk route) veers up a short slope to join your footpath.
Complete the directions at §11.
Fork left at post 2, leaving the Nature Trail. In 200m turn right at a path junction, in 150m meeting the trail again at post 17. Turn left to head south-west for 250m, then turn left again. In 150m go across the perimeter path and continue on a wide grassy path across Stagbury Downs to post 15.
Fork left at the path junction, temporarily leaving the Nature Trail. Stay on the main path for 200m as it climbs gently uphill, ignoring a minor path down to the left and then another on the right.
At the next path junction turn right. In 150m turn left at a path crossing, passing a marker post ⑰ pointing in the opposite direction.
You have rejoined the Nature Trail but will now be following it backwards.
In 125m keep ahead at a path crossing, soon passing a stub oak coppice stool4 ⑯ on the left. At the next path junction turn left. In 150m keep ahead across the wide perimeter path around the edge of the wood to come out onto a semi-open area, Stagbury Downs2.
Continue on a wide grassy path between shrubs and small trees. In 250m keep ahead at a path junction ⑮ where the main route joins from the right.
Go out into the top of a field and turn right to go around its edge. Leave in the bottom corner and go through a belt of trees. Turn left onto a footpath going down through the trees, across the railway and onto Outwood Lane. Cross the road and take the footpath heading south up a field edge and then through a strip of woodland to a path crossing near the far end of the Long Plantation.
For the Main Walk, turn left onto the public footpath which immediately swings right and goes downhill through the trees. In 125m the path bears left as it merges with another from the right. Continue downhill to reach a railway crossing, flanked by white wooden gates.
Cross over the tracks carefully and continue down a grassy path between houses to come out in front of the B2032 (Outwood Lane), with the Old School House5 opposite. Bear left to cross a side road and then the main road, aiming for the left-hand end of the house's garden. Go through a wooden gate here into the bottom corner of a large meadow, with an information panel about Shabden Park6.
Take the rightmost footpath, heading S directly away from the road. Go all the way up the right-hand field edge and continue through a gate in the top corner. Follow a narrow fenced path as it briefly zig-zags along the side of the valley, then climbs a short slope onto a broad path.
Stay on the main path as it heads S through this strip of woodland, the Long Plantation. In 600m fork right as indicated by a marker post. In a further 300m there is a low marker post on the left where your path is crossed by another public footpath. For the main route (to Mugswell) keep ahead at this path crossing.
If you are doing the Short Circular Walk, turn left and continue the directions at §9.
Continue briefly along the footpath but then veer left onto a permissive horse ride leading out of the wood and across Chipstead Lane. Follow the ride round to the right as it goes alongside the road to its junction with Southerns Lane, then turns left uphill. At the top of the slope join the lane and follow it (and a footpath short cut) south to a crossroads. Turn right and go along Rectory Lane to the hamlet of Mugswell. Turn right onto a footpath taking you down to the lunchtime pub.
Soon after the path crossing a horse ride joins from the right, then 50m later a marker post shows the public footpath branching off to the right. Ignore this post and stay on the main path (a permissive horse ride), which curves down to the left.
The footpath route would be shorter but is not recommended: you would have to negotiate a short stretch along a narrow lane with no pavement and fairly fast traffic.
In a further 75m fork right as indicated and follow this path out to a minor road (Chipstead Lane). Cross this busy road with great care. Go through a gap in the hedge opposite and turn right onto a narrow fenced path, running parallel to the road. In 400m follow the path round to the left at the field corner to go uphill alongside Southerns Lane.
At the top of the slope (with a wooden kissing gate on the left) turn right and go through a belt of trees onto this lane. Turn left and follow the lane uphill for 200m. After passing a group of cottages turn left onto a narrow (and rather gloomy) public footpath.
It is 150m longer but you could choose to stay on the lane as the footpath rejoins it at the crossroads mentioned below.
The footpath goes over a few stiles and swerves left and right to go past Southerns Farm. Go through a gate in a wooden fence, across a field to the far right-hand corner and over a stile to come out at a crossroads. Turn right onto Rectory Road and follow this quiet lane as it heads W for 600m, ignoring Pigeonhouse Lane and a couple of footpaths at the bottom of a shallow valley.
The lane comes to a T-junction where you bear right onto Monkswell Lane to go past a few houses in the hamlet of Mugswell. Follow the lane briefly round to the left, then (before reaching another group of houses) turn right onto a signposted public footpath, heading N.
The path leads into a field and you continue in the same direction along its left-hand edge, then on a fenced path beside more fields. The path starts to descend and continues through a belt of trees. Just before coming out onto Chipstead Lane you can veer right into the back garden of the Well House Inn7, the suggested lunchtime stop.
Cross Chipstead Lane and take the footpath heading north up the side of a valley. At the top go through Smugglers Pit Plantation onto Kingswood golf course. Follow a line of marker posts across the course and continue on a short path through trees to Waterhouse Lane.
From the pub, return to the path where you arrived and carefully cross Chipstead Lane. Go over a stile and climb up the right-hand side of a large meadow, heading N. In the top corner go over a stile, through a strip of woodland, then over another stile onto Kingswood golf course.
You need to take care for the next 600m as you cross the course. There are marker posts every 50-100m, helpfully indicating which direction golfers are playing from before you cross each fairway.
Continue to head roughly N. You start by crossing a couple of fairways, then go through a belt of trees. On the next stretch look out for any long hitters using the driving range away to your left. Cross the next fairway slightly to the left to locate the next marker post among some young trees. Bear right to head N across two more fairways to a stile on the edge of the course.
Go over the stile and along a narrow path through some trees. In 100m go past some metal barriers to emerge onto the B2032 (Waterhouse Lane, turning into Outwood Lane on the right).
If you are taking the afternoon short cut, go to §12.
Turn right and go along the road for 100m, then turn right again onto a bridleway. Follow this long tarmac driveway round to the left past a cluster of new houses. At the end turn right at a path junction to go across Surrey Downs golf course and down into the Long Plantation, soon meeting your outward route at a path crossing.
Turn right and go along the grass verge on the right-hand side of the road, ignoring a driveway to Eyhurst Park. In 100m turn right onto the first of two more driveways, a private road to Eyhurst Farm signposted as a public bridleway (the “No Access” sign is for unauthorised vehicles).
In 600m you come to a cluster of new houses and fork left, passing an ornamental pond on the right. At the end of the tarmac continue on a gravel driveway, with another house on the right. After passing its garden the main drive turns half-left but you turn right here onto a tree-lined track between a wooden fence and a hedge (not quite in the direction indicated by the footpath signpost).
The track soon comes to the edge of Surrey Downs golf course. Take great care here as golfers may be driving across your path from a nearby tee on the left. Cross the fairway when it is safe to do so and continue along a wide strip of mown grass. The rest of this 300m stretch across the golf course is easier: there are no more fairways to cross.
The grassy track heads towards a wood (the Long Plantation again) which you enter via a stile. Follow the woodland path down a slope and round to the left. Keep ahead over a horse ride and then your outward route at a footpath crossing.
Continue to head east along the footpath, out of the wood and down to the valley floor. Just before coming out onto a road (White Hill) veer left up the other side of the valley onto a footpath heading north. In 1 km veer left downhill at a path junction to meet your outward route again at Outwood Lane. Retrace your steps across the road to a footpath just off to the left.
Shortly after the footpath crossing keep right at a path junction and follow the main path downhill to a wooden kissing gate at the edge of the wood. Go through this onto a grassy path beside a few trees, heading E. The path goes gently downhill, skirts around a protruding piece of woodland and heads towards another wooden kissing gate at the bottom of the valley.
Do not go out through this gate but keep left up the other side of the valley. The right of way goes straight ahead up to a footpath post and then turns left, but a well-trodden path veering off to the left suggests that most walkers cut off this corner. Either way, turn left when level with the signpost to head N on a grassy path along the side of the valley.
The path leads to a gate which you go through and join a wider track in the same direction, with trees on the right and views across the valley on the left. In 500m the track veers left and right. In a further 200m keep ahead through a gate into the top of a large field.
The exit from this field is in the bottom left-hand corner but the farmer has specifically asked walkers to stick to the public footpaths so you should keep ahead for 125m. Just before an exit on the right veer left downhill on a grassy path to the bottom corner. Here you meet your outward route again and this time retrace your steps for a short distance, crossing Outwood Lane carefully to a signposted footpath a little way off to the left.
If you are doing a Circular Walk and returning to Chipstead, go to §13.
Follow the footpath across the railway. Ignore a path on the right and later fork left where the path splits. Continue in the same direction on a grassy path slanting its way uphill across a semi-open area, eventually rejoining the footpath at the top of Fames Rough.
Go up the grassy path between fences and carefully cross over the railway tracks. On the other side the path continues uphill through a strip of woodland and almost immediately there is a path off to the right.
To head for Kingswood, ignore this path and continue gently uphill on the main path. In 50m fork left where the path splits, leaving your outward route. In a further 75m keep ahead at a path crossing and go through a wooden kissing gate onto a semi-open area of downland, dotted with shrubs and small trees.
Continue in the same direction on a chalky path, climbing gently towards the top corner. Go through another kissing gate here and climb a short slope to meet a footpath (the Short Walk route).
Continue along the footpath. In 250m turn left and go around the edge of Banstead Wood, initially through woodland and then along a field edge. At Perrotts Farm turn left onto a bridleway heading west. In 600m turn left at a junction of tracks onto a bridleway initially heading south, then west alongside a sports ground. Turn left onto a footpath going past a large office building (Kingswood House). Before reaching the railway turn right to go through woodland and then along residential roads into Kingswood.
Continue along the clear woodland path, heading WNW. In 250m you come to a T-junction with a three-way signpost just off to the right tempting you into Banstead Wood, but instead you turn left. Almost immediately the path swings right and you continue along it for 400m, heading SW and later W through woodland (actually just outside the boundary of Banstead Wood itself).
The path eventually bends round to the right and goes up a short slope to emerge into the corner of a large field. Keep ahead along its right-hand edge, with Banstead Wood on your right. Up ahead you can see the buildings of Perrotts Farm and just before reaching them, veer left on a grassy path to pass to the left of a barn. Go through a wooden kissing gate and turn left onto the farm drive, a public bridleway.
Follow this track for 600m, initially heading W and later curving left and right as it winds its way downhill. At the bottom of the slope a bridleway joins from the left and shortly afterwards you turn left through a metal gate onto another signposted bridleway. Go up the right-hand edge of a field and follow the path round to the right at the top of the slope.
Go through more gates as you head W along another field edge and then a track, soon with a sports ground behind trees on your left. Ignore a track on the right and continue up to a surfaced area, where you turn left onto a signposted footpath opposite a couple of cottages. This goes through a belt of trees and meets a track going between the sports ground and a large office car park.
The right of way goes straight on in order to pass to the left of the large office building up ahead, Kingswood House8; if there is no clear path through the small group of trees in front of you veer left to go along the edge of the sports ground. After passing the building go across a tarmac driveway onto a signposted path going downhill through trees. In 100m you meet the short cut from Mugswell at a three-way path junction and turn right.
Follow the footpath through woodland and then alongside a small office car park. Continue along a residential road and keep ahead where it joins St Monica's Road. At the end keep left (joining Furze Hill) to come to a major road junction. The Kingswood Arms is on your right and the station is through a small car park on your left. Trains to London leave from the platform on the near side.
Cross Waterhouse Lane and continue on a footpath heading north and then north-west through a large residential area. Cross over the railway and shortly afterwards turn left to go through woodland and then along residential roads into Kingswood.
For the direct route to Kingswood, cross the B2032 carefully and continue in the same direction on a tarmac path, soon between fences. Cross a residential road, go along the left-hand side of a small green and bear left at the end. For the next 750m continue in much the same way along a series of well-signposted and mostly fenced footpaths, heading NW and crossing three more residential roads along the way.
In the later stages you start to go gently downhill and eventually the path turns sharp left in front of a belt of trees beside the railway. After crossing the tracks carefully continue uphill through woodland. In 75m you meet the main route at a three-way path junction and turn left.
Follow the footpath across the railway and immediately turn right to come out onto Chipstead Downs. Follow a grassy path across the downland for 400m. After going through a gate turn right onto a track leading down to the Ramblers Rest.
To return to Chipstead, turn right at this junction and climb a short slope past a large yew. At the top go through a wooden kissing gate onto Chipstead Downs.
There is no need to follow the directions in this and the following section exactly, especially if you are not stopping for refreshments. Any route along the side of the downs will get you to Holly Lane car park, 1¼ km away. You could also bear left and take a higher route alongside (or through) Banstead Wood.
For a simple route go straight ahead, initially with a fence on your right. In a short distance fork left onto the higher of two grassy paths, gradually moving away from the fence. In 400m several paths merge and you go through a wooden kissing gate into the next meadow.
If you want to head straight back you can take the left-hand of two grassy paths ahead for 200m, picking up the directions again at [•] in §14a.
For the suggested tea place turn right and take the grassy path downhill, with a belt of trees on your right. The path becomes a rough track which leads to a wooden gate into the car park of the Ramblers Rest. Bear right across the car park for its back entrance.
Continue to head north along the downland, either making your way back up to one of the higher paths or taking a shorter route alongside Outwood Lane. The higher routes lead to Holly Lane car park where you go back down to Outwood Lane. Retrace your earlier steps along the road and back up Station Approach.
The suggested route is to make your way back up to one of the higher routes along the downland, away from the road noise. If it is dark or you simply want to take a shorter route, follow the directions in §14b.
Go back through the car park gate and turn half-right onto a grassy path across the downland, heading NW. In 250m bear right in front of a gate in a hedge (with a chalky path beyond climbing steeply uphill towards Banstead Wood).
[•] Continue on a broad grassy path along the downs, with a hedge on your left. The path later goes through a copse and climbs slightly higher, gradually approaching Banstead Wood on the left. Eventually the path comes to a gate leading onto the public footpath running alongside the wood.
You could go through this gate and retrace your morning route down a short yew avenue, but it is simpler to remain on a grassy path outside the wood. Either way takes you to the surfaced path sloping down to the right in front of the hollow with the information panels. Bear right onto this path and follow it out through a gate and down to Outwood Lane. Cross the road carefully and turn left.
From the front of the pub take the raised tarmac path running alongside Outwood Lane, with the road (later screened by a hedge) on your right. The path stays close to the road as it gradually curves round to the right, finally ending after 600m where the road meets Hazelwood Lane at a mini-roundabout.
Although you could continue on a grassy path this eventually winds uphill towards Holly Lane car park, so it is simpler to continue on Outwood Lane (there is a pavement on the far side). In 150m you meet a path coming down from the car park, the downland route.
Retrace your earlier steps along Outwood Lane past the mini-roundabout. Turn right into Station Approach (signposted “Local Shops”) and veer left at the top for the station. Trains to London leave from the platform on the near side.
- Chipstead Downs is an important area of chalk downland which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (the SSSI includes Banstead Wood). The information panels at Holly Lane car park describe its natural history and the impact of human settlement.
- Stagbury Downs was originally wooded but the area was cleared to grow crops in WWI. It has been replanted with trees so that it can revert to woodland.
- The Banstead Countryside Walk skirts around Banstead Wood on a 5-mile circular route through the downs and farmland. It is an initiative of the Downlands Countryside Management Project.
- A stub coppice is halfway between a coppice (cut at ground level) and a pollard (cut above head height). A strip of oak trees down the centre of Banstead Wood was cut like this to produce compass timber, artificially bending and staking the new shoots at 45°, 90° & 135° angles to make strong joining pieces for wooden ships.
- The 17thC Old School House was acquired by a trust foundation to teach six poor boys and girls of the parish. It continued as a school until 1874 and the charitable trust still provides assistance to local parents.
- Shabden Park Estate is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust. In the 1960s and 70s its rich wildflower grassland was severely damaged by intensive agriculture, but these farming methods were stopped in the 1980s and it is gradually returning to a wildlife-friendly habitat.
- The Well House Inn claims to have in its garden the medieval St Margaret's Well, from which the village name Mugswell is derived.
- Kingswood House belongs to the Legal & General insurance company.
» Last updated: December 21, 2014