Papercourt – Birding walks around this site

Tufted duck found at Papercourt
Tufted duck by Julie Drewett

Here are some circular walks around the Papercourt area which can be combined to make into a longer walk.  Papercourt is an enjoyable place to walk at any time of year but can be particularly good in the winter months for seeing owls.  In the summer the water meadows are good for Reed and Sedge Warblers and Grasshopper Warbler is occasionally found.  In winter Snipe are usually present in the wetter areas, but difficult to spot.  Apart from crossing the bridges over water and a couple of stiles the walks are also entirely flat. However, as the walks are on floodplain, in the winter it is likely to be muddy so Wellington boots may be needed.  

Walks 1 and 2 are about 2 Km long and probably will take about an hour (assuming no long stops).  Walk 3 is about 4 Km and will take a couple of hours.

References to Points refer to points marked on the map.

Walk 1 (from Point A via Points B and C)

At the junction of the B382 and the A247 is a free car park (Grid Ref TQ019569). Cross the road, after parking, and walk south down the A247 past the signpost for Send. After crossing the River Wey, and passing three houses on the left, turn left and join a public footpath at Point A. At the time of writing there is no public footpath sign. After about 75 metres a barbed wire fence appears. Take the path that leaves the barbed wire fence to the left.  This is a good place to look for Stonechat (present in summer and winter). If the stile area is flooded, there is an alternative stile further along on the right. Although, on the OS map the footpath is straight, the footpath bends slightly past some willows and small oak trees as it follows the curves of the River Wey (listen here for warblers in the phragmites in the summer). At this point another public footpath goes off to the left following the River Wey but remain on the main, wide track (walking in the direction of office buildings).  Look out here for Kestrel (which often perches on the high tension cables) and occasionally one of the Woking Peregrines may be seen hunting here.  In winter you can usually see flocks of Meadow Pipit  and Linnet. 

At a junction of paths (Point K) bear right and cross the river/canal called the Broadmead Cut using the footbridge.  Here there is the option of continuing straight on and crossing the River Wey Navigation Canal too and joining Tannery Lane at Point D in order to combine Walk 1 with Walk 2.  To remain on Walk 1 turn right at Point B and follow the River Wey Navigation towpath.  This is a good place to look for Kingfishers. When a footbridge crosses the River Wey Navigation Canal, turn right down a short steep slope and follow a path that winds through a small area of woodland. Then cross a very small wooden footbridge and then a much larger footbridge across the Broadwater Cut. Check the fields to the left on crossing this footbridge because this area gets very wet in the winter and may hold a wader or ducks. After crossing the footbridge the public footpath sign points off to the left. Follow this public footpath to return back to point A.

Walk 2 (from Point D via Points E, G and H or J)

Park in Tannery Lane (Grid Ref TQ030563).  Some of the area is office parking but there is space for vehicles where Tannery Lane runs East (by the P on the map). At the end of the parking area (away from the offices) a public footpath runs alongside Tannery Lane (about 3 metres in). Either follow this public footpath or walk along the road. At the left hand bend, if walking along the road, turn right onto the public footpath. Walk along a public footpath with a brook to the left and a cultivated field to the right (usually maize).  This can be a good field for wintering Thrushes. Just before a copse ahead of you the path splits in two. Take the left hand path which goes into the copse and past a smallish lake, which usually has a few ducks on it. Just before the end of the lake take the path (not the public footpath) which goes off to the left crossing the brook. Cross the brook and follow the track for about 30 metres through a small plantation.  At a junction with a much wider track turn left onto the wider track (again not a public footpath) which passes alongside the part of the Papercourt Reserve managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust which is entry by permit only. This wide track has hedges on both sides and is good for mixed flocks and wintering Thrushes. In the winter there can be a few gaps in the hedges leading to restricted views into the ponds in the Papercourt Reserve. Be warned that ringing takes place sometimes on the Reserve so you may hear a lot of birdsong if the ringers are playing a tape to attract the birds in!  Check the fields too for wintering Geese sometimes there are good numbers of Pied Wagtail.  At the end of the track, just after it has become tarmac, re-join Tannery Lane. Turn right and, after 15 metres, at a road T-junction, turn left and walk another 50 metres to the entrance of the Papercourt Sailing Club. Walk through the first set of gates of the sailing club and walk down the drive, as though going into the sailing club, to Point E.

Here is the option of turning right and walking around both the Papercourt Lakes in order to combine Walk 2 with Walk 3 but, for Walk 2, turn left at Point E and follow the track which runs alongside the sailing lake. There are some good views of this lake. The club is usually sailing on a Sunday but, even when sailing is taking place, the lake is usually good for both Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant and Mute Swan plus lots of Coots. Occasionally, in winter, a rarer diving bird might be present such as Red-breasted Merganser or Great Northern Diver. These days the wintering ducks are generally on the sailing pit, unless a lot of sailing is taking place, and whilst the Goosander flock has diminished to zero there are usually a few Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck and gulls and often Wigeon as well as the Coots and Grebes and increasing numbers of Egyptian Geese. Common Tern are regular in summer.

After approximately 300 metres, just before reaching a parking area, turn left down a track, for 10 metres, to the road (Point G).  Cross the road and join a public footpath (although again there is no public footpath sign) however there is a sign on the gate saying “No parking 24 access required”.  After approximately 100 metres bear left onto a narrow path as the right-hand track is a private track. The public footpath has woodland on the left and brambles on the right and can be good for Goldcrest and Bullfinch. After approximately 500 metres the footpath meets a road.

Turn left and walk 25 metres on the road, passing a red brick building on your right. At the end of this building, turn right into the yard, then bear left down a track (there will be a blue container on your left) between a wooden hut and an old brick cottage and go through a gate. Check the old oak trees to the right carefully as they have had Little Owls present. Keep an eye out for Little Egret, Grey Heron and wintering thrushes. At the end of the track, cross a stile and head across the field towards the river and Papercourt Lock.

Shortly afterwards cross another stile (or open the gate and walk through it) and enter National Trust property. Cross the River Wey Navigation Canal and there is a choice of paths now.  Whichever path you choose, check the trees running along the water for wintering flocks of Siskin and Redpoll.  The drier path (but less likely to give views of owls) runs alongside the River Wey Navigation Canal, starting in front of the lock-keeper’s cottage, and is sign-posted “tow path”. Alternatively continue straight on across the Broadmead Cut, then go through a gate (with a Surrey Wildlife Reserve sign beside it), turn left and follow the track which runs alongside Broadmead Cut (and parallel to the River Wey Navigation Canal tow path).  There is one gate to go through on this track, which, when it is wet, has a very large puddle in the middle of it hence needing Wellington boots alternatively climb over the fence.  Continue walking for about 750 metres until a T junction of paths (Point K on the map).  Turn right and cross the 2 footbridges to return to the car parking area in Tannery Lane.

Walk 3 (from Point E via Points F, X and G)

There is space for about four cars to park at the end of Tannery Lane at its junction with Polesden Lane (Grid ref TQ037562).

At the road T-junction, turn left and walk 50 metres to the entrance of the Papercourt Sailing Club. Walk through the first set of gates of the sailing club and walk down the drive, as though you were going into the sailing club, to Point E.

At the second set of gates (Point E) turn right and walk approximately 100 metres with a hedge on the left. When the hedge does a 90 degree left turn do the same and continue to follow the hedge. When some shipping containers (in the sailing club car park) appear on the left turn right onto a track leaving the small Papercourt lake to the left.  Within a few metres the view of the lake opens up and there is a small seat to sit and enjoy the birds. On this lake, if sailing is taking place on the main lake, there could be good numbers of ducks including Gadwall, Mallard and Tufted. Occasionally there may be Shoveler and Pochard. Kingfishers are sometimes seen too. 

For the walk, continue along the small lake (at the moment there is a fallen tree which is a slight obstruction on this path) and, at the end of the lake, turn left to join a public footpath.  After approximately 100 metres there is an oak tree and a public footpath sign. Turn left and there is a choice of paths. The public footpath goes off to the right through the woodland. Alternatively there is a track going to the left (in the direction of the boat masts) going between the lake and the woodland therefore giving a better view of the birds on the larger of the two Papercourt Lakes. These two alternative paths meet up again about 1/3 of the way down this larger Papercourt lake.

After the two paths have met up again the public footpath continues for approximately 800 metres around the end of this larger lake. However the public footpath leaves the lake just after leaving three houses on the right.  Do not turn right and follow the public footpath but continue straight on along the track, which continues running parallel to the lake. After reaching a Brownie hut, walk through a car parking area, rejoin the track and walk for a further 10 metres to reach point G on Walk 2.  Either turn right and join Walk 2 or, alternatively, continue straight along the track running parallel to the lake. This track will bring you back to the gates to Papercourt sailing club (Point E) where you can return to your vehicle in Tannery Lane.