September 10th The Deepdene Trail opened successfully to visitors and the Friends of Deepdene played a key role in getting it all ready, especially between July and September this year.
There was a huge volunteer effort in the Gardens of the Trail before the opening as one of the areas previously closed and hidden from the public. The activities included: opening and clearing paths ready for visitors, mowing the garden slope or ‘dene’, checking and re-cutting key views around the garden slopes and preparing and planting beds around the newly restored parterre area (the lower garden with gravelled paths and the lion statue).
The group also cleaned up the historic flint steps that link the gardens to the Terrace to assess their stability. As visitors saw on the opening day they were sadly in bad repair and could not be opened. Now trained up in flint working the volunteers have taken on these steps as one of their key conservation activities since the opening.
They also prepared the Trail entrance for visitors clearing the entrance paths off the A24 of felled trees, rhododendron and overgrown grass.
Chart Park was cared for with plenty of strimming, raking and mowing the wonderful meadowland areas. The Friends also seeded the new ground around the new overflow car park, finalised the last linking path from the Terrace to the golf course with rustic steps and helped with the hay cut.
They supported the work at the Mausoleum, clearing debris, planting and giving the walls a good scrub up before the opening day.
The Terrace was cared for with strimming in the overgrown areas along the avenue and around the slopes and leaf blowing and clearing of the flint steps from the Terrace down.
Outside groups lend a hand
On the 20 July Democratic Services, the Legal Team and the Policy & Performance team from Mole Valley District Council braved the hot weather and spent the day volunteering at Chart Park as part of the Deepdene restoration project. They helped with moving rubble from the Mausoleum, and building paths and steps from the Terrace.
Above and beyond
In recognition of the amazing work the Friends of Deepdene have put into the Trail the group was successfully nominated for Mole Valley District Council’s Above and Beyond Customer Services Award by Project Manager Alex Bagnall.
‘The volunteers have worked tirelessly over the last five years, amounting to in excess of 15,000 voluntary hours, and the project could not have happened without them. . .The skills and knowledge of the group are immense and continue to expand as new volunteers join and further training is undertaken. . .I will never be able to thank them enough for their outstanding contribution to this project and truly believe that they have gone above and beyond.’
Response from volunteers:
‘What a wonderful and completely unexpected surprise we had when the Friends of Deepdene team members were each presented with an ‘Above and Beyond’ Award from MVDC for the work we had carried out on the Deepdene Trail over the past 4 or 5 years.
As volunteers we do the work, not just because we enjoy it, but also because we are able to contribute to a more pleasant environment for the community of, and visitors to, Dorking and the surrounding towns and villages.
We really are lucky to be working outdoors in our Surrey countryside, yes sometimes we get wet, we get cold, we get tired, but we also get terrific satisfaction when completing each small project that adds to the Deepdene Trail story.’
Would you like to join the Friends on site and get involved in work like this? They currently work two days every week (Wednesday-Thursday). If you are interested in conserving this fantastic historic landscape, looking for a bit of regular exercise or are a dab hand with a pair of secateurs and willing to lend a hand, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact: