A walk around the Devil’s Punchbowl

Driving around the Devil’s Punchbowl was always a familiar part of my journey to and from visiting my family after I moved to London on finishing university. It might have been the slowest point of the journey but it was certainly the most picturesque.  The need to focus on the road meant I could never quite fully appreciate it though.


Looking out at the view across the Devil's Punchbowl - "A walk around the Devil's Punchbowl"


Once the Hindhead Tunnel was completed in 2011 the journey became much quicker. The girls love travelling through the tunnel. They’d never seen the pretty view that I missed though.  Visiting the Devil’s Punchbowl has been on my must-do list for some time. Despite passing close by so regularly, there was never really the option to stop. I was always in a rush to get down to my family or heading back home too late in the day. Making time for a trip to the Devil’s Punchbowl mid-visit never quite happened either. My time with my family is usually jam-packed. However this time, I needed to leave early as I had a friend coming to stay.


Sophie looking out over the Devil's Punchbowl at the start of our walk


Legend has it that the Devil’s Punchbowl was created as a result of the Devil scooping a handful of earth out of the ground and throwing it at Thor, the God of Thunder. I’m not sure if that was the story that my dad used to tell me when we drove around it though. Whatever the story, I found it a fascinating spot.


There are several walks to take around the Devil’s Punchbowl. I decided to go for the Sailor’s Stroll. This is a 1.6km walk from the café and car park, up to Gibbet Hill and back again. We didn’t have a lot of time so needed a short walk which was also accessible with Jessica’s buggy. The Sailor’s Stroll looked like the best choice on both counts.


Jessica and Sophie standing by the sign marking where the old A3 used to run


We crossed over the route of the old A3 and headed along the route of the old turnpike road. This was the original Portsmouth to London route. It was rerouted in the 1830s as it became more difficult for horses to pull heavy carriages up the hilly road.


A sign giving some of the history behind the Sailor's Stone


As we headed up towards Gibbet Hill, we passed the Sailor’s Stone. This stone marks the spot where a sailor was brutally murdered in 1786. His three murderers were captured the next day and hanged six months later at Gibbet Hill. According to the inscription on the back of the stone, there is a curse on anyone who moves or damages the stone. It certainly felt like an eerie spot. I was glad to move on.


The Sailor's Stone near the Devil's Punchbowl in Hindhead


We soon reached the top of Gibbet Hill and the Celtic Cross. The cross was erected there to help banish the fears and superstition which grew up around Gibbet Hill after the hanging of the three murderers. It was hard to imagine such a pretty spot had such a gory past. The views across the countryside were so beautiful and the cross was surrounded by purple heather. We stopped for a rest (plus a short detour from our route to find a geocache).


Jessica and Sophie at Gibbet Hill


Jessica and Sophie amongst the heather near the Celtic Cross


The Sailor’s Stroll ended here. We just needed to turn around and retrace our steps back to the car park. However, it looked like there was a shortcut back down to the old turnpike route. There was – but it was quite a steep hill. I had to carry the buggy down and then come back up to help Jessica get down. Sophie managed it by herself though. Following our route back would have been much easier!


Jessica sitting on a tree stump near the Devil's Punchbowl


We stopped to admire the view of the Devil’s Punchbowl. It felt strange to stand there and remember driving around it. The old A3 was buried under the sandstone from the tunnel when it was built. I’m not sure if the grassy area is part of the old route or if it’s part of the original contour of the hillside which has since been re-landscaped. It does look like it takes a similar route to the road I remember though.


The view across the Devil's Punchbowl


On the way back to the car park, we stopped to pick some blackberries and find another geocache. It was a lovely way to break up the journey home and a long-overdue visit to a beauty spot that I always loved seeing from the window of a car. It was much nicer to be walking around it though and being able to admire the view at a more leisurely pace!


Jessica looking closely at a tree


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

20 thoughts on “A walk around the Devil’s Punchbowl

    1. It’s a beautiful place for a walk. So glad I finally managed to make the time to go 🙂

  1. I think we regularly pass by near here, but like you we never get round to visiting. It looks so lovely, I’ll endeavour to go there next time. #countrykids

  2. What a beautiful place to explore with the girls, I can see why you were desperate to pull over and explore it with the girls. The history there is certainly brutal for such a beautiful area, it’s clearly not retracted from it at all though. The girls look like they had a wonderful time exploring with you.

    Thanks for linking up with me on #CountryKids.

    1. Thanks Fiona. Hubby was disappointed that we did it without him so we’ll definitely have to go back 🙂

    1. Thanks Helena. I always find it fascinating to learn a little bit of history when visiting a place 🙂

  3. Lovely place for a walk. We’re big geocache fans, such fun turning a walk into a treasure hunt! #Countrykids

    1. Thanks Jo. I love geocaching with the girls – it does help make a walk more interesting! They call it hunting for treasure too! 🙂

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