Size: 7ha

Ownership: Waverley Borough Council

Designation: SSSI

Restrictions: Open access land. Please keep dogs on a lead.

Access: Off Sandy Lane, Rushmoor

Grid ref: SU 86980 39554

One of the ‘Devil’s Jumps’ in Surrey, Stony Jump is an exceptionally important lowland heathland site, supporting indigenous populations of all six native reptile species.

The reserve

Stony Jump is the easternmost hill of the three Devil’s Jumps in Surrey. Covering approximately 3ha, the site forms part of the Thursley, Hankley and Frensham Commons SSSI; and is typical of the lowland dry heathlands on the Lower Greensands of the Surrey Weald. Common heather, or ling, dominates the vegetation community of Stony Jump, with bell heather and dwarf gorse completing the shrubby layer. A notable topographical feature of this site are the Tor-like areas of exposed rock, providing both a substrate for diverse lichens and mosses as well as a heat retaining basking sites for reptiles, and areas of warm microclimate for invertebrates.

Stony Jump supports all six native reptile species in the UK – adder, grass snake, smooth snake, slow worm, viviparous lizard and sand lizard. All of these populations are indigenous, meaning they have always lived here, which makes Stony Jump one of the most important reptile sites in the whole of southern England.

The Devil’s Jumps

The Devil’s Jumps are three small sequential hills located near the village of Churt in Surrey. They are formed from a type of very hard ferruginous sandstone or ironstone, known locally as carstone, which is exceptionally resistant to erosion.

Folklore has it that the devil used to live at the Devil’s Jumps, and would torment Thor, the God of Thunder, who lived at nearby Thor's Lie (Thursley), by jumping from hill to hill. To end his torment, Thor picked up a boulder and threw it at the devil, causing him to flee. The boulder remains lodged firmly at the summit of the easternmost hill, Stony Jump, giving the hill its name.

What to see

  • Native populations of all six reptile species. Watch for sand lizards basking on sandy banks, and mounds and adders curled up in sunny spots.
  • Stony Jump is also designated for the important heathland bird species it supports, which include the woodlark and stonechat. Listen out for stonechat, whose distinctive call sounds like two round pebbles being struck together.

Photo copyright Gillian Pullinger