Main walk: 20.6km (12.8 miles)
Options from 7.4km (4.3 miles) to 17.3km (10.3 miles): see below
4 out of 10: two extended hill climbs near the start: otherwise fairly gentle gradients
Guildford is easily reached by extremely frequent trains from Waterloo (usually at least four an hour), whose ultimate destination is usually Portsmouth or Haslemere. Avoid the slow trains via Effingham Junction and Clandon, however, which confusingly leave Waterloo a few minutes after the fast trains. Catch a train from Waterloo at about 9.30am to get to lunch in time (though on weekdays, if you want to use your Network Card) the first train after 10.00 would also be OK).
Some of the shorter options start or finish at Chilworth station, which can be reached with a change at either Guildford (out of Waterloo) or Redhill (out of Victoria). Buses also link Chilworth and Guildford roughly hourly Monday to Saturday, but only every two hours on Sunday.
A new option also enables you to finish the walk at Shalford, the station between Chilworth and Guildford, which also has more frequent buses than Guildfrord.
Explorer 145, Landranger 186
The walk explores pleasantly hilly scenery in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It starts on the tranquil River Wey Navigation, briefly follows the North Downs Way, and then veers off up to climb the wooded Chantries Hill for fine escarpment views at the top. The hill has extensive bluebell woods in late April/early May, and glorious golden beech colours in autumn. You then rejoin the North Downs Way to climb to the hilltop church of St Martha’s, and descend from the escarpment to lunch in the pretty village of Albury.
In the afternoon, you are in somewhat different terrain – sandy heathlands and woods around the village of Blackheath. Finally you descend by an easy track through Tangley Manor for a further stretch along the River Wey into Guildford.
While it is not mud-free, the sandy soils in the first two thirds of this walk mean that it is drier underfoot in winter than many other walks.
a) Shortcut via Chilworth. This route cuts out the lunch pub in Albury but takes in The Percy Arms, a possible alternative. It goes through an interesting area by the Tillingbourne river which used to be gunpowder factories and is now woodland, and then carries on up a relatively quiet road to rejoin the main walk route in Blackheath. This reduces the walk to 15km (9.3 miles).
b) Chilworth to Guildford. It is possible to start at this railway station, which is just below the hill on which St Martha’s Church stands. This allows you to cut 6.4 km (4 miles) off the start of the walk, making a total walk of 14.2km (8.8 miles) and gets you to the lunch pub in Albury very soon after starting. However, you miss out the viewpoints of Chantries Hill and St Martha’s Hill.
c) Guildford to Chilworth. An afternoon shortcut to Chilworth station cuts the walk to 12.9km (8 miles), with the Percy Arms as a possible tea stop.
d) Guildford to Shalford and Shalford tea options. This alternative route enables you to finish at Shalford station, shortening the walk to 17.2km (10.7 miles). It also gives you access to some tea and pub options in this attractive village, after which it takes you back onto the main walk route into Guildford over the pretty Shalford watermeadows, adding just a few hundred metres to the walk distance.
e) Short walk. A pleasant and energetic stroll over Chantries Hill and St Martha's Hill, with fine views, ending at Chilworth: 7.4km (4.3 miles).
The Drummond at Albury (01483 202 039 www.thedrummondarms.co.uk) 8.8km (5.5 miles) is a large and pleasant pub serving both restaurant-style meals and cheaper bar classics. It has a garden with outside tables by the river. Food is served 12-3pm and 6-9pm Monday to Friday, but all afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.
The Percy Arms in Chilworth (01483 561 765 www.thepercyarms.net) is a possible alternative on option a) the Shortcut via Chilworth, but can also be reached by a 1.4km (0.9 mile) diversion off the main walk. Either way, it is 7km (4.3 miles) into the walk.
Guildford has lots of options, but a surprisingly nice choice is the self-service restaurant of Debenhams, which has an excellent selection of cakes, a beautiful view overlooking the River Wey and an outside terrace.
Otherwise, explore up the town’s picturesque high street (see paragraph 84 of the main walk directions)
As a backstop, there is a decent-sized and quite pleasant Costa Coffee at Guildford station that opens well into the evening.
Earlier tea options include the Percy Arms in Chilworth (see lunch) and also the Queen Victoria and Seahorse pubs in Shalford, the former a more traditional pub and the latter a more stylish modern one. Shalford also has a tea room, the Snooty Fox, but this closes at 4.30pm daily
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk