Posted 20 February 2015 by Andrew Gardner
Hurrah for Sussex! I say this, on this occasion, because I've just learnt of a wonderful legend concerning the creation of some major local landmarks. 'Tis said, apparently, that one day the Devil got so cross at the number of churches being built in Sussex that he decided to dig a channel through the South Downs and flood them all. Click here to see our holiday cottages in the South Downs.
As he furiously dug his way through, throwing up mounds of earth that became high points (and Sussex landmarks) such as Cissbury Ring, Mount Caburn, Chanctonbury Ring and Rackham Hill, he was suddenly disturbed by a cock crowing earlier than normal. Panicking that dawn had arrived he leapt into Surrey and made a huge dent in the ground where he landed that became known as the Devil's Punchbowl.
There are other versions: one has it that he just liked throwing lumps of earth at Thor to annoy him and the Punchbowl was where he dug them up, while another has two giants throwing earth at each other, one scooping out the Punchbowl to throw but missing his enemy and creating the Isle of Wight instead - but I prefer the idea that Sussex played a part in the story.
The Devil's Punchbowl is near Hindhead in Surrey and an easy visit from many of our holiday cottages and premier holiday homes. It's a beautiful and protected area that was once the realm of highwaymen but is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest, especially now that the A3 tunnels underneath the Hindhead area instead of trawling through it. On some early maps it was simply marked as 'Ye Bottom', which really doesn't do it justice. It's a natural heath and nature reserve, with woodland and streams and plenty of wildlife, as well as grazing cattle and ponies; together with Hindhead Commons it's an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are plenty of lovely walks and picnic sites.