2013 - July - 28

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What you will see here

This was a nice country stroll, not too taxing on the constitution, but ably led by Sheila. The sun was much in evidence, with only a few spots of rain as we watched the opening runs of the village cricket match on the green at Tilford. On much of our walk we accompanied the River Wey and traversed wooded paths - so typical of Surrey - which gave us a welcome summer shade.

The outward "leg" of our walk in the Surrey woods took in a small part of the North Downs Way. We then passed Moor Park House, with its strong historical associations. The Barley Mow at Tilford was our lunch stop, and we returned via Charleshill with its strange "Gothick" houses. A traverse of wooded Crooksbury Common brought us to further woodland wherein hid the houses of the affluent. The hamlet of The Sands came next, and so once more to the North Downs Way and to Farnham.

Features of Our Walk

Our walk was circular, or, more correctly, "figure-of-eight", in shape. From distance plots, I estimated the distance to be 11.0 miles or 17.7 km. This is more than the 10.1 miles measured by David on his Sat Nav., but perhaps footnote 1 can help to explain things a little.

For the first half of the walk, from Farnham to Charleshill, we largely followed the initial part of the "Time Out®" route to Godalming, but instead of reaching Moor Park House via High Mill House, we walked on the opposite side of the River Wey. The return half of our walk via The Sands was a nice improvisation by Sheila allowing us to achieve a timely finish at Farnham Station despite the 40 minute delay of the morning train into Farnham.

Outline Map of Our "Figure-of-Eight" Walk. Top is North!

This walk was not unduly taxing on the constitution, for elevations ranged between a maximum of 136 m (446 ft) and a minimum of 52 m (171 ft) with a total ascent of 257 m (843 ft) equivalent to a quarter of a kilometre. The highest point was close to the Crooksbury Hill viewpoint (162 m), and this could merit a revisit on some future occasion - perhaps in spring or autumn with less trees in leaf.

Height Profile - Not Over-Energetic!

A Nose Around Farnham

Having arrived a tad early, I had a quick look around Farnham. Farnham has Saxon origins and oozes history with lots of traditional buildings, all nestling in the shade of the Castle, itself of Norman origin. The Castle was recently used as a centre for preparing UK businessmen on the language and customs of the countries they intended to visit.

Farnham Station dates from the Victorian (LSWR) era, and the original cast iron roof supports have supported the roof over many decades.

Castle Street has many mature buildings, ...

... including "The Nelson Arms". Whilst the web spoke of the pub as a good eatery, it did not enlighten me on Nelson's connection with Farnham.

The Normans, of course, came from France, but the flag shows that their castle is definitely English.

A Wooded Approach to Tilford

On our outward journey to Tilford we used the North Downs Way as far as the gates of Moor Park House. We followed the Time Out® Guide (Walk 12, pp98-104, footnote 4) for most - but not all - of the outward part of our journey to Tilford. However, footnote 2 is relevant here! The woods provided refreshing shade in the mid-day sun. Moor Park House gave us an interesting dose of history. Shortly after leaving Farnham, we had to climb over a recently fallen tree and hoped that the local "footpaths department" would soon be coming armed with chain-saws to clear the path for future walkers.

The North Downs Way stretches from Farnham to Dover and was fully opened in 1978 to the delight of countless subsequent walkers. This strange looking bench commemorates the fact.

We stop by the imposing gate to Moor Park House ...

... to consult our maps and for some water. Water never tastes so good as on a summer walk.
You might wish to have a look at footnote 3.

Moor Park House has an interesting history, boasting connections with Jonathan Swift, King William III, John Dryden, Joseph Addison and - last but least - Charles Darwin. The WWII GHQ line - of which we saw vestiges on our walk - ran through the grounds of Moor Park House. Now house and gardens are a - probably quite expensive - residential complex.

The present house dates from 1630. Sir William Temple bought the house in the 1680s and renamed it after Moor Park, the mansion in Hertfordshire.
This might even be his somewhat weathered family crest gracing the door.

Before we reached Tilford we espied this house, nestling in amongst the foliage in typical Surrey fashion. It looks like someone's nice well-kept country retreat.

A Sporting Interlude in Tilford

We entered Tilford via its famous narrow hump-backed bridge over the River Wey. It was definitely time for a relaxing lunch break and a visit to the time honoured "Barley Mow", in my case for a refreshing half of Stowell's Cider. What more could you want on a summer's day? Well, what about a Cricket Match? That was provided too! Almost as if in accordance with custom, the rain arrived - enough to freshen us up a tad, but certainly not enough to stop play. Suitably refreshed, we made our way back over Tilford's old bridge and headed for Charleshill.

The "Barley Mow" on the green at Tilford was our lunch time stop. Spectators with beverages had taken up their places outside ...

... and so had our IVC stalwarts.

And this what was catching everyone's attention. The game had just started and the score so far was "25 for 1 not out". A few drops of rain did not stop play. In fact, there was hardly any rain all day.

Charleshill, Crooksbury Hill, the Sands and Farnham

We made our return via "The Donkey" in Charleshill. Indeed, donkeys - beasts of burden - used to be tethered here in days of old before the advent of motorised transport. We then rose to the dizzy heights of Crooksbury Common (National Trust), passing on the way some interesting Victorian houses on the outskirts of Charleshill. Next we hit upon a colony of quite affluent properties hiding in the woods in the southern reaches of the hamlet of "The Sands" - which boasted another "Barley Mow" eatery and watering hole. It seems that lots of barley was mown hereabouts in days of yore - barley for all sorts of uses including barley wine. We rejoined the North Downs Way, and - by the gate to Moor Park House - rejoined our outward route that we had taken in the morning. After once more negotiating the fallen tree, we this time avoided crossing the busy A31, taking the official North Downs Way to its start, just south of Farnham Station.

On the way to Crooksbury Common we encounter "The Upper Coach House" and "Turners", both built in a fantasy - perhaps a tad "Gothick" - Victorian style.

Further up the lane is "Turners", built in the same eerie style with the same kind of little tower. I think all three belong to the estate of Charleshill Court.

Onward through the Wooded Crooksbury Common - with its Crooksbury Hill viewpoint - we go. After more woods and affluent houses hiding therein, we reach The Sands, also boasting a "The Barley Mow" pub.

Along the "high street" of The Sands we go, soon to rejoin the North Downs Way.

It's our North Downs Bench again! So it's time for ...

... a short rest, reflection on the day, perusal of maps and swigging of water,
before we return to Farnham via the "Fallen Tree".


Thankyou Sheila for leading this walk. It certainly was a nice and successful day out - good company, good weather and lots of nice countryside. We had good exercise and a rewarding way to spend Sunday.

This area certainly merits a revisit, at any time of the year. From the terain aspect, we could consider the south westerly viewpoint at Crooksbury Hill (we actually passed close to this) and the Devil's Jumps (National Trust). Of historical interest are Waverley Abbey (with its Scottish connections) and nearby Waverley Abbey House, and Tilford's Rural Life Centre, which, in its grounds, also has the narrow (2 foot) gauge Old Kiln Light (Steam) Railway.


Here you will find footnotes containing relevant comments that might otherwise billow out of control in the main text. Items raised here relate (1) to distance measurement and (2) to the contents and details of a relevant Time Out® Guide.

  1. Distance. I estimated 11.0 miles or 17.7 km, in off-line mode using www.bikehike.co.uk. This is of course more than the 10.1 miles measured by David on his Sat Nav. However, David temporarily lost satellite communication at one stage, and towards the end of the walk, batteries had to be changed. Having the same model of Sat Nav myself, I can also vouch for its inaccuracy on a number of occasions. Without aiming to be unduly dogmatic, I am therefore inclined to go for something close to 11 miles.

  2. Unprotected crossing of the A31. In order to give walkers an early dose of the River Wey, the Time Out® Guide recommended an unguarded crossing on foot, over the crash barriers of the central reservation of the busy A31 dual carriageway; we thought that this recommendation was not a candidate for the "good-ideas" department, however respected the aforementioned guide undoubtedly is. Of course, this issue may have been addressed in a subsequent edition of the Time Out® Guide referred to in footnote 4. On our return we made the much safer shortcut via the official (as of 28 July 2013) start of the North Downs Way - hence the top loop of the "figure-of-eight" structure of our walk.

  3. North Downs Way. Here, at the gates of Moor Park Hall, we left the North Downs Way. Of course, had we followed the Time Out® Guide to the letter, we would have crossed the North Downs Way at this point, having left it earlier to walk via High Mill House.

  4. Time Out® Guide. The version to which I refer is: Time Out Country Walks, Volume 1, 52 Walks within Easy Reach of London, Published by Ebury, London 2005. ISBN 978-1-904978-88-6.