A Hindhead man has raised concerns about how the National Trust is maintaining the Devil’s Punch Bowl site.
Tony Schlaeppi believes the unchecked growth of scrub and bracken is ruining views at the much-loved beauty spot.
And Mr Schlaeppi is calling on the National Trust to do better.
He said: “The Devil’s Punch Bowl is our local site of special scientific interest. The area, with its splendid views, is owned and ‘maintained’ by the National Trust.
“Over the past few years many of the views across the Bowl and to the London skyline have been lost to the unchecked growth of scrub and bracken.
“The half-mile walk along Highcombe Edge to the monument is the worst affected.
“There are several seats at viewpoints that just look into the undergrowth.”
However, the National Trust has insisted it cares strongly about the site and has invested large sums of money on the upkeep of the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
National Trust lead ranger Matt Cusack said: “We’d like to reassure readers the National Trust cares hugely about the Devil’s Punch Bowl.
“We have invested tens of thousands of pounds of charitable funds at this important site in recent years, both from members and the generosity of the Black Down and Hindhead Supporters.
“This includes extending the footpaths, landscaping to improve the visitor facilities and views across the valley, and a new car park.
“We’ve responded to requests for additional toilets, including a Changing Spaces toilet for disabled people, more car-parking spaces, an all-weather path making a two-mile loop around the top of the Punch Bowl, plus a new welcome team to help people enjoy their visit.
“We work in collaboration with Natural England on biodiversity at this rare heathland site, particularly to improve habitats for Dartford warblers and ground nesting birds such as woodlark.
“Bracken has grown fast in this year’s hot summer weather.
“We clear scrub between mid-September and the start of March, in order to protect birds during nesting season.
“Winter works have begun and we are concentrating on two main viewpoints this year, together with the support of our volunteers – the main Hindhead viewpoint by the cafe, followed by Gibbet Hill, with its views of the London skyline, later in the winter with our contractors.”
Mr Cusack admitted that although a large amount of work is undertaken at the Devil’s Punch Bowl site, there is room for improvement. He also said Covid-19 lockdowns had affected the upkeep of the site.
“We clear around five to ten hectares of scrub each year and with a large site such as the Devil’s Punch Bowl there is always more we can do,” said Mr Cusack.
“Understandably, some of our conservation work was on pause during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, when our work was focused on keeping the sites open and safe.
“We’re always happy to hear from residents if they’d like to find out more about our conservation work, make suggestions, join our conservation volunteers or be part of the independently run Black Down and Hindhead Supporters.”