Dover is promised 153 miles away, but that's too far for us in a day. So we're going to go to Guildford, a comfy 11.5 miles from Farnham.
From: A linear walk of 11.5 miles, starting from the Hickley corner crossroads where South Street meets Station Road and the A31 in Farnham and ending in Guildford town.
Length: 11.5 miles.
Average Walk Time: 4 to 8 hours, depending on how much time you spend refreshing and visiting the Watts Gallery, house and chapel.
Terrain: Generally gently undulating. There are a couple of pulls uphill, but you can't expect a 12 mile route along the NORTH DOWNS without some climbs. Generally, it's moderate walking.
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: other long distance walkers. There are some great sights in the villages that we pass.
Before starting this walk, it's important to say that this section of the long-distance footpath is incredibly well signposted. If I've missed a 'turn left' or a 'turn right', don't fret. Look around and you'll find a sign. And if you take a compass with you, head East!
But we have to start. I sometimes need some shopping in Guildford, and my favourite way of getting there is, naturally, on foot. I generally take the train back, but for visitors to the route and those of you with a little more time to spare, the route will reward you many times over.
The route starts from the steel sculpture at the junction of South Street and the Farnham Bypass, known as Hickley's Corner. With countryside promise (not), start walking towards London (East) alongside the A31. With this start, things can only get better, and they very quickly do. After about 100m, a track leads off right. Don't get excited (yet) it quickly turns left again to follow the main road. Gently, the track begins to diverge from the dual carriageway, and soon you reach a wonderful farm known as Snayles Lynch. Now we're starting to get rural. Shortly you get to 'The Kilns', which although it has a public footpath going through the front garden, you turn right down the side and under the railway bridge (Ⓐ on the photo).
The path reaches a tee junction, where the sign turns you left and then very shortly turn right through a kissing gate and past the 'bee orchid' bench. As has been said before, it's too early to sit down yet, so pass on. The track now winds through a young wooded area and soon reaches a road. Turn left and quickly the road takes a left – which you take too. Moor Park Lane takes you past Moor Park House, to the unfeasibly steep Compton Way. Yes, you do go up the hill, but it's short, only 100m, (and the steepest thing on the whole route to Guildford). At the top, the road turns right, but you take a partly hidden footpath on the left, marked Ⓑ on the photo below.
Now the route finding gets much easier. Follow the side of the field for 800m until the path reaches a tee junction. Turn right and then after 100m, turn left again (well signed). 300m more and the path reaches a small(ish) road, where you turn left. After 20m turn right down another footpath and right at the end of this onto Sands Road. Keep going past the Sands business centre with its steam engine outside, until you reach the Farnham Golf Club. Turn left down the front of the clubhouse, and avoid the golfers who are crossing the road!
500m down this road, with the golf course behind you, turn right over a small bridge (Ⓒ on the photo below.) Don't worry, you quickly pick up greens and fairways on your right again through a chainlink fence! Follow the path for 500m until you cross a small road. Continue for another kilometre, taking care to fork a slight right at the only junction on this path. It is well signed. On reaching the second road, at a farmhouse, turn right and immediately left, through a kissing gate and past the fairy tree. ('House' number 4B). Now you're in woodland and the good path covers 300m before turning left and running down the side of a hedged garden. Another 100m, a kissing gate and the path turns right as the vista opens up left and ahead. The main road travels along the hog's back way off to the left, but apart from its noise, you run parallel to it. The path heads downhill alongside a fence, before diving into some woods. If you're visiting at the right time, these are gorgeous bluebell woods.
At the bottom of the hill, after the path has gone down a sunken lane, take a left and an immediate right. Now the track presses uphill to Puttenham Common. This isn't too steep, but it does go on a bit. Keep following until (eventually) you crest the hill. From here, it's downhill all the way into the village of Puttenham. There is a pub in the village, which makes a good lunch stop, or you can nibble a picnic in the grounds of the St John the Baptist church. After lunch, carry on to the tee junction with the main B3000 where you turn right. 200m down the main road is a large restaurant called "The Jolly Farmer". Here, CAREFULLY, cross the B3000 (there is a refuge in the centre of the road to help you) and walk up the left hand path to the Puttenham Golf Course. Pass the front of the clubhouse building, and keep going! The track takes you straight for 2 kilometres, until it reaches a small road and turns right under the dual carriageway and the smaller feeder road. Note the (slightly wonky) crosses on the bridge under the smaller feeder road. These symbolise the fact that you are walking along the old 'Pilgrim's Way'. Keep going, until you reach the main road, which is signed Watts Chapel right and Watts Gallery left.
If you've never been to the Watts Chapel, I can strongly recommend the detour. It's only a couple of hundred metres down the road, and the arts and crafts style building is amazing. If you don't go there, or when you come back, turn left to the gallery. Again, if you're into Victorian painters, it's worth a visit. If not, turn right up the sandy track before the gallery (Ⓓ in the picture below). At first, this is deceptively easy. However, after passing a farm on the right, the track winds up a muddy sunken path through trees. Not only is this steeper, but it's the muddiest part of the hike, and in wet weather can be downright squelchy. It doesn't last long, and soon crests and heads downhill again. 1.5 kilometres after Watts Gallery, there is the only confusing junction on the whole track. The path meets a sandy vehicular track (after being a definite footpath) and appears to go straight up the hill. Our footpath jinks left then right and follows the side of the field, rather than going through the woodland. This is marked Ⓔ on the photo below.
Now it feels as though we're on the home straight. Walk up the side of the field to the top of the hill by two benches (it's downhill all the way now!), and down again. Resisit the temptation to run - there's still a little way to go! The track meets a small road, where you turn left and right, through Pickard's Farm (avoiding the 'Free Range' children). Pass the farm, follow the track straight ahead (rather than turning right) and eventually you reach civilisation. Yes, it's a road with residential houses on it and a proper metalled surface! Turn left, go down to the main road, where you turn right, cross over and turn left down Ferry Lane. This steep road takes you down to the River Wey. (Have a look at 'The Stream' before you get there and cross the tiny bridge – it has to be done!) At the Wey, turn left and follow the waterway all the way into Guildford. I've stopped the walk at the Millmead lock, where you have the choice of turning right into the town proper, or turning left to the train and bus station. Celebrate, enjoy and start planning the next stage of the journey to Dorking.