East Horsley, The Lovelace Bridges

Click here to download the trail

Thinking of visiting the Lovelace Bridges? Download the printable trail sheet: PDF

Lord Lovelace was an enthusiastic forester. In order to facilitate riding through the woods and extracting the timber, he embarked on a programme of bridge building. Altogether he built fifteen horseshoe-shaped bridges, ranging in size from about six feet wide at Meadow Platt to eighteen feet at Dorking Arch, which crosses the road leading to Ranmore Common.

 Stony Dene in course of conservation Image: HCPS

Stony Dene in course of conservation
Image: HCPS

The style of the bridges is unmistakable with their flint and red brick, but only three have retained their name and date plaques Oldlands, Stony Dene and Robin Hood. Over the years many of the bridges have become unsafe and even derelict, and some have been pulled down.

Ten remain: Stony Dene, Dorking Arch, Briary Hill East, Briary Hill West and Raven, all owned by Forest Enterprises, and Outdowns, Meadow Platt, Hermitage, Troy and Robin Hood, all in private ownership.

Troy Image: HCPS

Image: HCPS

Dorking Arch Image: HCPS

Dorking Arch
Image: HCPS

Meadow Platt Image: HCPS

Meadow Platt
Image: HCPS

Part of another remains at Oldlands and of the remaining four only slight traces survive. The Horsley Countryside Preservation Society, with the aid of some grant money, has embarked on a conservation programme, beginning with Stony Dene.

10 thoughts on “East Horsley, The Lovelace Bridges”

  1. Peter Hendry says:

    I arrived at Green Dene car park and saw the board showing walks, including the one for Lovelace Bridges which I decided to take. I crossed the road as per direction disc and found the narrow path nearly impassable due to being overgrown, certainly not family friendly. At the end of the path is a wide track but no signage as to whether to go left or right. I went left and went downwards and came to a house where there was a sign as there was when reaching the rough road. I came off the road as per next disc sign and some found myself on a path that was very poached by horses and at the start of August, after dry weather, very wet and muddy. I went up the path, which had a tree across it. That was it as far as signage was concerned. No marking at junctions and after a while I retraced my steps. A very disappointing outing. Surely if you advertise walks they should be adequately marked and passable with ease. When was this walk last checked by one of your staff/volunteers?

    1. ESP Admin says:

      Dear Mr Hendry
      Many thanks for bringing this to our attention.

      We are sorry to hear that you had a disappointing outing.

      Your comments have been forwarded to the Surrey County Council team responsible for footpath management.

  2. Basil Watkins says:

    I live fairly near to the trail and know what to expect as regards walking conditions, but I think those unfamiliar with them need to be warned. There are many ground seeps in the woods, especially in winter, and so the paths can be boggy and slippery. Also, the bridle-paths are very heavily used and so not too pedestrian-friendly. I think that the Trail is a very worthwhile asset, but I don’t think that it’s suitable for younger children or the elderly who may be unsteady on their feet, and I think that its publicity should reflect this. Further, there have been problems with dogs and their walkers coming into conflict with horse-riders, and a comment warning dog-walkers would be helpful.

  3. Kevin Williams says:

    Sunday 19th Feb 2017 we parked on Green Dene car park, crossed the road and followed the directions along a step not very well defined or maintained path up to a track. There were no signs as to the direction to take. We turned right and after 10 minuets stopped to ask a dog walker who kindly pointed us in the approximate direction. This took us down an extremly steep incline to a road / track junction adjacent to a saw mill. Again no signs or directions. After an hour plus of wondering through the wood along various tracks we came across Hermitage bridge. We followed this track an came to Troy Bridge. A few hundred meters beyond we fond ourselves back at the junction next to the sawmill. Lovelace estate, a lovely walk but how about sone signs/directions. All of the tracks we found were poorly maintained and at times we were unsure if we had strayed onto private land. We missed so much. You are missing a real chance. But now we know we will return when it is a lot warmer and drier to seek out the remainder of the Lovelace Bridge Trail.

    1. ESP Admin says:

      Many thanks for your comment. Issues relating to the condition of public rights of way in Surrey can be reported to the Surrey County Council Countryside team responsible for footpath management via their web site:

  4. Dominic says:

    This is the most amazing trail – muddy in parts yes, narrow paths yes, steep climbs and descents yes, even loads of nettles sometimes, and you may go the wrong way on occasions – but all of this helps explain why the Earl of Lovelace built the tracks and bridges in the first place. Quite an incredible engineering feet over 150 years ago !

  5. Rex Butcher says:

    To all those who have negative comments:

    If you want an easy walk on well defined, clear paths, use an A-Z and walk around London. When you hit the countryside, it is not so clear-cut. It is a bit of an adventure.

    Rather than criticize, why not come out and assist the volunteers who try to keep the trails in good order. I am sure your help would be welcomed.

  6. I agree with Rex. Perhaps try being a little more positive and see it as an adventure. Take a picture of the map in greendene car park. Relate it to a 25,0000 OS map, mark the locations on the map and hey presto you have an architectural treasure map! Let the hunt adventure begin! Been out there this afternoon with my 9mth old daughter. Yes it rained, yes we got a little damp and i got muddy. But we found 4 bridges deep in the woods. We will be back to find the others that are still up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *