Bonesgate Stream and Tolworth Court Farm

During the Summer the council leader asked the ominous question as to why there were no great areas of open space in the borough. This is something the borough have been aware of for twenty years since the GLA Survey 1992. The Atkins report commissioned by the council (2005) stated that Kingston will need to provide six, two ha recreational parks to cater for the boroughs burgeoning residents, yet our green space has been steadily shrinking since then, with ‘surplus land sold off (Rookwood Avenue for a car park; land at Chessington etc.) as well as other green spaces lost to development (current planning application at Tolworth Recreation Ground for 106 housing units). In fact, there is a plan to develop the whole of the Hogsmill Valley for housing (Hogsmill Valley Masterplan). In fact Natural England is concerned about the pressure on three European sites from Kingston's residents (Strategic Environmental Assessment, Core Strategy, 2011).

Since then several articles have appeared in two local papers Tolworth CF to be a Country Park (9.9.14) wanting to change the character of Tolworth Court Farm, without an alternative point of view. Brown argus and white-letter hairstreak are amongst the butterfly species recorded at Tolworth Court Farm. Reptiles and amphibians, kestrels and woodpeckers are regularly seen by the people that walk through it’s countryside. Hidden gems include the much rarer saproxylic (of dead wood) jet ant Lasius fuliginosus, a species only found at one other site in the borough.

It's possible to pick up the Bonesgate Stream at Tolworth Court Farm (left) at the junction of the Hogsmill River or Cox Lane. The stream is heavily shaded by trees and scrub. The compacted clay banks appear impenetrable by mammals. Old toeboarding has fallen into the streambed and only the uprights remain visible.
It is not possible to walk through the privately owned horse grazed Field 5847 (at the top end of TCF see photo) although this side can be viewed from the Epsom and Ewell path. The field has  a fairly unique flora in the borough, with a chalk influence. Plants found here include red bartsia indicative of disturbance (a slightly  different plant community to the chalk flora recorded at Seething Wells).

The footpath on the Surrey side feels like a walk through countryside. The management has been sensitive and the vegetation has a scalloped edge and well developed tree and scrub layers. Management tends to be for wildlife and trees have been monolithed rather than felled and chipped.

On reaching Moor Lane look at the  culvert to see a mammal ledge, which was installed when the culvert was repaired a few years ago. Although it rather cobbled together, it has withstood the passage of time. This aids  mammal movement especially prevent road casualties. Have a look at the culverts where you live to see if mammal ledges exist. In some of them (Tolworth Brook at Raeburn OS) bat bricks have also been installed.

This is the Bonesgate Open Space nature reserve. The management undertaken by Kingston is very different to that on the Surreyside. There are no scalloped edges, the trees are not sensitively managed (having been cut off at their mid-point) the banks are full of garden waste, cabling operations have destroyed a badger sett, and insensitive bankside strimming has led to the loss of marsh woundwort. 

Cappagh are rebuilding the culvert at Filby Road as the Bonesgate enters Castle Hill (see Castle Hill page). It will take another 2 weeks before the road can be open. Unfortunately Kingston Council will not be installing mammal ledges here to join together the two nature reserves.

The Bonesgate Stream splits into two arms at Castle Hill. The Kingston arm continues through some very intensive farmland, which technically is private. The other continues through Horton Country Park (which has its own page) and a footpath to Horton Lane can be reached via Green Lane Chessington.

After walking past the residences and  Kennels at Green Lane Chessington, the path turns into a real Green Lane, another ancient drovers road, where animals where ferried twice daily for milking etc.
It leads into Chalky Lane and the entrance to Park Farm, where public rights of way do exist.

Mammal footprints can be seen in the soft mud along the stream and a well trodden mammal ledge exists along the freeboard. There is ample evidence of roe deer and badgers as well as stands of plants such as coltsfoot and stream macrophytes include celery leaved buttercup.

The footpath to Horton Lane into Four Acre Wood at Horton CP can be reached from a footpath  on the road opposite St Mary's Church Garrison Lane. It is not easy to find as it is disguised by vegetation growth. This 12th Century Church pictured could be the oldest church in the borough and has a mixed hedgerow which includes elm around its perimeter. The picture shows the last leg of the Bonesgate through Rushett Farm.              


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