Frensham Great Pond

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham

14-Jun-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Alice Holt Forest

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham

14-Jun-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Beach at Frensham Great Pond, during Covid Lockdown

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham

14-Jun-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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View across The Flashes from Stony Jump

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham

14-Jun-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Stockbridge Pond (Private Fishing)

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham

14-Jun-20 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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1.7 path

23-Jun-14 • helen_tristam on Flickr

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1.7 oak on path

23-Jun-14 • helen_tristam on Flickr

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Bentley to Farnham walk


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Mon, 08-Mar-21

Date # Post
Sat, 31-Oct-20 9

Saturday Walk - Ancient Forests and Heathlands: Bentley to Farnham

Length: 26.0 km/16.2 mi [shorter options available, see below]
Ascent/Descent: 416/429m
Net Walking Time: ca. 6 hours
Toughness: 7 out of 10
Take the 09.00 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo, change at Woking onto the 08.54 stopping service from Waterloo to Alton (09.24/09.30).
That train calls Clapham J at 09.01. Train arrives Bentley at 10.02. Buy a Bentley (Hampshire) return.
Return trains from Farnham are on xx.28 and xx.58 (direct). There is also a xx.04, changing at Guildford.
This is a varied walk on the Hampshire/Surrey border, incorporating ancient forests (Alice Holt Forest, Farnham Heath and Bourne Wood), some large and popular heathlands on Frensham Common (with several large ponds, one of which has dedicated swimming areas, and the Devil's Jumps) and the more remote Hankley Common, a large Scots Pine and heather-covered area including the heathland ridges of Kettlebury Hill and Yagden Hill, which make for some very scenic views.
On Hankley Common you have an opportunity to explore a D-Day training site with a replica section of The Atlantic Wall and assorted other defensive structures. From the picturesque village of Tilford, north of Hankley Common, with its pub and cricket pitch on the green you follow quiet woodland paths and lanes (with the occasional steep ascent) to Farnham.
Walk Options:
Bus 19 (Haslemere to Aldershot via Farnham, hourly Mon-Sat) to/from Great Pond Car Park (after 9.1 km of walking) enables a very short walk or a late start or a circular or a ‘Lasso’-style route.
A Shortcut from Frensham Little Pond to Tilford cuts out the Flashes area of Frensham Common with the Devil’s Jumps and all of Hankley Common. [cuts 6.8 km/4.2 mi and 136m ascent, rated 4/10].
An Alternative Ending from Tilford along the Greensand Way and the River Wey cuts some steep ascents.
Lunch: Several options for elevenses (see the pdf) plus two principal pub stops.
They are the Bel and the Dragon in Churt (13.7 km/8.5 mi, food served to 17.00) or The Barley Mow in Tilford (12.6 km/7.8 mi into the short walk, food served to 15.00).
Tea: a café en route along the short walk, a pub and a village store in Tilford on all options, plus three pubs in Farnham at the end. See the pdf for details.
For walk directions, maps, height profiles, photos and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.184
One of Britain’s largest spiders, the Great Fox Spider, has been discovered on a Ministry of Defence training ground in Surrey, having last been spotted in 1993 on Hankley Common. It has 8 eyes and wraparound vision!
5 off the train and 4 car drivers, so 9, with the rain starting the very moment we stepped off the train and getting harder and not stopping until 1 o'clock. By then the lunchers on the full walk (3) had reached the Bel and Dragon, where we had very good meals and soaked up the fireplace generated warmth. Meantime, the sky broke and it started the relentless improvement of weather to mostly blue sunny skies. The 2 picnickers on the main walk had already moved on and they caught the 16.28 train, us 3 the 16.58. 4 walked the short walk, cutting out Hankley Common. hard rain to 1 then improving to blue skies
The ground: not very muddy at all, just as I had hoped, considering the amount of wet we've had. Mainly tarmac and cycle track ready gravel paths in Alice Holt Forest anyway, then two mud prone stretches in the wood and along a bridleway from Frensham Mill to Great Pond, but they were not too bad, no slipping and sliding certainly, no depth to the mud. Plenty of standing water on the sandy heaths of course, but easy to navigate around and never a problem for boots. The rest of the woods were fine as well.
The autumnal colours: very good. Alice Holt is mainly oak forest and conifer plantations but interspersed with plenty broadleafs so was lovely. The heaths were really interesting, with plenty of birch in colour, brownish grasses and reeds, even the dying bracken adding to the mix, so together with the dark purple heather, sandy soil and green conifers it was quite a picture, especially in the sun. Finally, the woods nearer Farnham were a fine mix of colours.
Also: Massive numbers of mushrooms, almost everywhere. A gaggle of swimmers at Frensham Great Pond (where are the SWC swimming aficionados when you need them?). No dog walkers while it was chucking down, but a handful of other walkers. No Great Fox Spider spotted, maybe it was too sunny?
All in: a fine autumn walk, I thought.

Sat, 16-Nov-19 17

Saturday Walk: Bentley to Farnham

12.6 miles / 20.1 km - with shortcut before lunch (Frensham Little Pond to Tilford)

This is a shorter version of a lovely walk through woodlands and heathland.

Trains: Take the 9:53 from London Waterloo, arriving at Bentley at 11:02. If you miss this train, take the 10:00 and change at Woking (arrives 10:24, departs 10:30).
Return trains from Farnham at: xx:28/xx:58.
Buy a return to Bentley.

Lunch: The Barley Mow, Tilford, 01252 792205. This is a late lunch stop, but food is served until 3pm.

Click here for full details and walk directions

Aiming for the earlier train to walk the normal 25.2 km version. [09.00 W'loo, change Woking, Bentley 10.02]. Lunch pub after 13.5 km: The Bel and the Dragon in Churt. The last 2 km or so are along residential streets in Farnham, so will be fine for light.
3 off the early train in mostly sunny weather to 1 pm, then overcast. A few muddy bridleways in the woods en route but not overbearingly many, and the vast stretches across heathland were fine anyway (very fine far views from the heathland ridges today). Good leaf colour, plenty mushrooms: a good walk, and a good walk for the season.
We had made good progress when the turnoff to the Bel & Dragon came up, so we strode on to the Barley Mow for lunch, assuming we'd bump into/be met there by walkers from the posted train, but just a couple turned in (and only to use the facilities). So we were behind after lunch and coffee and got to Farnham in good time for the 16.28, on which we met some (5) of the main group, who emerged from the Mulberry Tree. Others apparently had taken the 15.58. [Note: The Waverley Inn is now shut for good and currently disembowelled for being turned into a Day Nursery.]
I'm slightly unsure because of people's different starts and finishes, but I think there were 14 walkers on the standard train, making 17 in all, in initally beautiful weather clouding over later. Many of the 14 picknicked at Frensham Little Pond, but I think some went to the NT cafe and 4 walkers stopped for lunch late on at the Barley Mow. I hope they found their way on to Farnham OK. 3 (?) improvised a slight short cut from there to Tilford, and 2 of those then did the longer return to Farnham by the NDW, getting to the train in time to meet some of the rest of us . . . meanwhile 7 proceeded to Farnham via the recommended route and met a lost walker who we helped find the station. I was amazed to find we got there in time for the 1558, which 3, I think, made a bee line for, leaving 4 of us to visit the Mulberry for a nice cup of tea/TEA/cider having deciding we didn't have time to venture further into Farnham before the next train. I think that leaves one person unaccounted for I'm afraid!
This is one of my favourite walks and it was a most enjoyable day out, enhanced by all the variations and some nice bits I couldn't remember from previous outings. And indeed, lots of interesting mushrooms not to mention some free range pigs.
Sun, 12-Aug-18 5

Heavenly Heather en route from Bentley to Farnham

SWC Walk 184: Bentley to Farnham via ancient forests, Frensham Ponds and remote heathlands T=SWC.184

Length: 15.3 Miles or 24.5 km for those more metrically minded (for those wanting something shorter, a shorter version of 12.6 miles/20.1 km is available)

Difficulty: 6 out of 10 (or 3 out 10 for the shorter version)

Train: Take the 10:07 AM South Western Alton train from London Waterloo arriving at Bentley at 11:20. Return trains from Farnham are hourly and half-hourly until 22:30. Buy a day return to Bentley.

This walk explores a variety of terrains from ancient woodland to remote heathland, including the very intriguing Devil’s Jumps….Most importantly for this time of year, the full route passes through Hankley Common which should be ablaze with heather….Other features include a swimming spot at Frensham Great Pond – however, please take heed of any warnings relating to algae bloom which tend to affect the pond in the late summer. More information and the walk instructions can be found here.

This walk is suggested as a picnic walk….though, on the full route it may be possible to have a drink and late lunch at the Barley Mow in Tilford (01252 792 205) – open all day with food served until 16:00 on Sunday. On both versions there are also some café options for snacks along the way…..On arrival in Farnham, there are numerous options for post walk bevies and meals….the Mulberry near the station and the William Cobbett a short distance further on are two recommendations….See walk page for details….

Enjoy the walk!
5 emerged from the train onto the platform and stepped almost directly into the surrounding woodland and countryside under grey skies followed by light but persistent rain for a spell then drying out for the afternoon. At the Visitor Center, the ranks reconsidering options without a rain jacket, two doing the shorter option and two setting off on the longer main route for the Devil's Jumps.....This is a cracker of a heather walk...loads of the stuff encountered on the longer main walk and its extensive exploration of heathland...though, sadly, not really at its best this year some looking a bit like my house plants and back garden....somewhat parched....Although not really an ideal swimming day, disappointingly, the swimming hole had a number of signs warning of high levels of blue green not even any paddling took place.....nonetheless, an enjoyable Sunday outing in good company....
Sat, 02-Sep-17

Bentley to Farnham - woodland, heather, maybe even a swim

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham
Length: 24.5km (15.3 miles) but with shortcuts reduced to 20.1km (12.6 miles)
Toughness: fairly flat, from what I remember (But see note ** at end of post)

9.53 train from Waterloo (10.00 Clapham Junction, 10.11 Surbiton) to Bentley, arriving 11.02

If you just miss the above train, the 10.00 Portsmouth Harbour train from Waterloo gets to Woking at 10.24, from where the above train leaves at 10.30

Buy a day return to Bentley (Hampshire: not the one up north!!)

For walk directions click here, for GPX click here and for details of the lunch options etc click here.

Waterloo is (hopefully) back in action and the heather is (hopefully) in full bloom. Combining the two is this walk which is fairly wooded in the morning but crosses a large area of heathland in the afternoon. It also passes Frensham Great Pond where it may be possible to swim if there are no algal blooms - see the walk homepage for details.

I have only ever done this walk (the shorter version) in January when it made an excellent and varied outing on a fine sunny day. Lunch arrangements are slightly unconventional. On that January day we lunched at the Best Western Hotel at Frensham Pond, which had a somewhat posh dining room but did pleasant food. It was table service so slightly slower than a pub, but that was more of an issue on a short winter day than it will be at this time of year. I see that in summer they also do bar food, including some meals, in their garden. They are also a popular wedding venue, so that may or may not be an issue today. Possibly phone them on 01252 795161 at the start of the walk to see if they can accommodate you.

Otherwise there are cafes early in the walk in Alice Holt Forest and mid-walk at Frensham Pond - tea, cakes, soups and sandwich-type places as far as I can tell. The Barley Mow in Tilford, two thirds of the way through the walk, is more of an early tea option that a lunch one, as it stops serving food at 2.30pm.

There is a shortcut from Frensham Little Pond to Tilford and a shorter (but more suburban) route into Farnham - this is the 20.1km (12.6 mile) version of the walk.

Trains back from Farnham are at 28 and 58 past till late.

** The author rates it 7 out of 10 for the main walk, 3 out of 10 with the shortcuts. I did the shortcuts last time and 3 out 10 seems right for those, but such an increase in toughness for the main walk implies hills of Alpine proportions on the section beyond Little Frensham Pond. I see no particular sign of these on the Ordnance Survey map. T=3.184

For what it's worth I would have rated the two options as 6/10 and 4/10 (rather than 7 & 3). There are indeed no lurking Alpine hills on the longer version, but it is a fair bit hillier.
Sat, 30-Jan-16 20

Saturday Second Walk - Hampshire-Surrey borderlands

SWC Walk 184 - Bentley to Farnham
Length: 18.7km, (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 3 out of 10

9.53 train from Waterloo (10.00 Clapham Junction) to Bentley, arriving 11.02

(If you miss this, get the 10.00 to Woking, changing there for the above train, arriving 10.24, departing 10.30)

Buy a day return to Bentley (Hants).

For walk directions click here and click here for details of lunch and tea places.

I have not done this walk and I am not even sure it has had a Saturday outing before. I was attracted to it by mention of heaths and sandy soils, hoping (possibly vainly) that these might be a bit less muddy.

The walk seems to offer a mix of woods, heaths and more normal terrain. The 11.7 mile version of it involves doing the short cut to Tilford and the standard ending: I would not recommend the longer options at this time of year.

It is a fair old walk (8 miles by my calculation) to the recommended lunch pub, the Barley Mow in Tilford (which serves food till 2.30pm, so at a reasonably brisk pace you should be able to make it) otherwise, earlier lunch possibilities (which may or may not be available or open) are mentioned in the walk details.

(If anyone fancies getting the train an hour earlier to be more sure of getting to the lunch pub, they could indicate in a comment. I agonised about this, but figured an 8.53 train would put people off).

The afternoon is short but hilly. Back in Farnham in addition to the listed tea places, walkers on the recently Farnham Circular recommended the Bush Hotel, which is a 3-400 metres down the main road into Farnham, on the left just past Sainsbury's (which is on the right).

Trains back are at 28 and 58 past
I've done this one previously. There was some road noise but otherwise I thought it a nice walk and there are sandy paths when you're up on the heathland.
But most of the heath and sandy soils are actually just on the longer option of this walk. With the short cut you only get a bit at Frensham Common.
20 on this walk, one taking the train an hour earlier, who the rest of us briefly saw at lunch. This made a delightful walk in the lovely sunshine, with a long stretch on a tarmac path through a forest to start, dry sandy heaths after lunch, and only a few rather gloopy bits in between. Gradients were easy, the landscape varied, and in general the scenery really seemed to suit this time of year.

The walk author materialised and negotiated lunch for ten of us at the rather posh Frensham Pond Hotel, which put up with our walking clothes and boots left at the door with good grace. They were alas a little slow to take orders and bring our starters (the fact that the walker who took the earlier train still did not have her meal when we arrived perhaps should have been a warning to us), so that we spent an agonising hour (I speak personally) staring out the window at the sunshine, feeling the best of the day was passing us by, and envying the sandwich eaters, who after a quick repast by the lake and a brief drink in the hotel bar, carried on. But the food when it came was delicious, the starter portions large, and the main courses very tasty: very reasonable for a fixed price of £15.50.

Setting off finally at 2.45, we skirted the very scenic Frensham Ponds and passed over the magnificent heathland of Frensham Common, stopping for a brief refreshment at the Barley Mow in Tilford. The walk route into Farnham then went through more sandy woodland, with some considerable hills, about half of which we backmarkers negotiated in the dark.

My conclusion is: great walk, but in winter get a 9am train to get to Tilford for lunch: or do it in August, when the pond would have nice swimming (there is a beach) and the heaths would be covered in heather.
Sun, 17-May-15 6

Sunday Second Walk - Surrey heathlands

Extra Walk 184 – Bentley to Farnham
Length: 25.9km (16.2 miles) Toughness: 7/10; or 18.7km (11.7 miles) Toughness 3/10

10.07 Alton/Basingstoke train from Waterloo (Clapham Junction 10:15) arriving at Bentley at 11:20. Buy an off-peak day return to Bentley, and make sure you are in the Alton section of the train, which divides at Woking.

Return trains from Farnham are on the hour and half-hour (journey time 1 hour 10 mins).

This varied walk, taking in Surrey hills’ ancient forests, heather-filled heathlands and a swimming pond, has attracted some very favourable comments. The shorter version of the walk was done on its two previous outings, but today could be an opportunity for more ambitious walkers to try the longer option, which explores the remote Kettlebury Hill and Hankley Common. You don't have to decide which option to choose until you reach Frensham Little Pond 10.2km into the walk.

The lunchtime options are not great, and it’s probably sensible to enjoy a packed lunch beside one of Frensham’s ponds or on Frensham Common. For a late pub lunch you must wait till you reach the Barley Mow (01252 792205) beside Tilford cricket green. This is 13.2km (short option) or 19km (long option) from the start.

You will need to download the Walk Directions.
Sun 17th May: Extra Walk 184 – Bentley to Farnham

6 on the walk on. Seemed quite a low number for such a lovely day. After a picnic lunch at Frensham Pond, the group split up; three taking the short cut to Farnham, the other three keeping to the main route.
Wed, 08-Oct-14 Bentley to Farnham
Sun, 27-Jul-14 12 Bentley to Farnham