Along what locals call the ‘Elstead straight’ towards Thursley in southwest Surrey lies the carpark to this network of ponds and natural wetlands, a former army training ground traversed by more than a kilometre of easy boardwalk. It’s a haven for bird and insect life; our visit on a warm May day caught the dragonfly breeding season and, to the delight of local twitchers, a quartet of rare raptors – hobbys – had taken up residence. We saw lizards and marsh orchids, and our dog made a small boy drop a frog (not a euphemism).
Part of the trail is dedicated to the 20 species of dragonfly that frequent the wetland and one viewing platform features an etched panel describing their life-cycle.
The walk is plenty wide enough for a wheelchair and there are passing places along the way, as it rather elegantly wraps around individual trees and winds through minor thickets. We have yet to venture out on a spur that takes you to a mysteriously-wooded area. On a couple of platforms the ecology of the area is described on touch-panels for the visually impaired.
It makes for a fascinating visit. If you take the Thursley turn-off the A3, before the tunnel, you will pass the Three Horseshoes, a village-owned pub with good beer and stockbroker belt food.