Jul 29 2023

Memorable Moments on the Heath 7: Family Boxing Day

Welcome to the seventh in a series, compiled by Warden Mike, featuring members of the Thames Basin Heaths Partnership team recalling memorable moments on the heath.

Senior Warden Zoe: Family Boxing Day at Horsell Common Sand Pit

We spent every other Christmas at my house by Horsell Common. It was a family tradition to go for a long walk on Boxing Day. Whether you wanted to or not, all fourteen of us (minimum) would get wrapped up, wellies on and off we went on an adventure.

Photograph of Senior Warden Zoe and her brother as young children sitting on a bench

A young Zoe with her brother at Horsell Common

With my cousins and grandparents-long-gone by my side, we’d trudge through the mud of the main track that crawled with familiar faces doing much the same. Then, we’d break through naked trees onto an open grassy area with people flying their new model airplanes, dipping and diving them over the surrounding beauty of a serene misty heathland. It seemed to sprawl for acres, glittering with frost, a quiet and undisturbed kingdom, hidden away from the world by towering Scots Pine that relentlessly fought to invade.

Photograph of Senior Warden Zoe as a child with family members, posing in front of large tree roots

A young Zoe and family at Horsell Common

We would play games in the sandy pit where we were led to believe aliens once landed. The exposed roots of the trees that bordered the pit evoked endless scenarios in my imagination. Were they snakes, monsters, hidden dens, or just idle backdrops for family photos? I’d discover treasure on my mission; a beautifully coloured stone, deer antlers, a perfect walking stick or a sword to spar with my brothers and cousins.

We’d saunter back home, noses red like Rudolph and numb tingling toes ready to warm up by the fireplace. Our rumbling tummies yearning for hot chocolate and mulled wine, ready for the feast ahead.

Thames Basin Heaths Partnership


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