Guildford via Chantries Hill Circular walk
Chantries Hill and the North Downs Way to St Martha's Church (viewpoint). Albery for lunch, returning via mixed woods and the tranquil Wey navigation to Guildford.
Main walk: 20.3km (12.6 miles)a) Guildford Circular via Chilworth: 17.1km (10.6 miles)
b) Short cut through the woods: saves 1km (0.6 miles)
c) Chilworth to Guildford: 14km (8.7 miles)
d) Guildford to Chilworth: 13.1km (8.1 miles)
e) Guildford to Shalford: 17.5km (10.9 miles)
f) Chilworth to Shalford: 11.2km (6.9 miles)
g) Guildford to Chilworth short: 7.9km (4.9 miles)
4 out of 10: two extended hill climbs near the start: otherwise fairly gentle gradients
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) Guildford Circular via Chilworth. You can cut out the lunch pub in Albury to create a shorter walk of 17.1km (10.6 miles). There are two ways to do this (see next page), depending on whether you want to have a pub lunch or not:
b) Short cut through the woods. This direct path through the woods saves only 1km (0.6 miles) and cuts out Chilworth and a pleasant valley section of the walk, but it is perhaps useful if you are in a hurry to get to lunch in Albury, or in late autumn, when it has fine beech colour.
c) Chilworth to Guildford. You can start at Chilworth station, just below the hill on which St Martha’s Church stands. This allows you to cut 6.3km (3.9 miles) off the start of the walk, making a total walk of 14km (8.7 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.
d) Guildford to Chilworth. An afternoon shortcut to Chilworth station cuts the walk to 13.1km (8.1 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 17.5km (10.9 miles). Or, if you still plan to walk to Guildford, it gives you access to to some tea and pub options in an attractive village before taking you back onto the main walk route via the pretty Shalford watermeadows: this adds 0.8km (0.5 miles) to the walk distance.
f) Chilworth to Shalford. Using the option c) start and option e) ending this makes a walk of 11.2 km (6.9 miles), with a relatively early lunch stop in Albury after 2.8km (1.7 miles).
g) Guildford to Chilworth short walk via Chantries Hill and St Martha's Hill: a very scenic walk of 7.9km (4.9 miles). Refreshments only at the start and finish.
Guildford is reached by frequent trains from Waterloo (usually at least four an hour), whose final destination is usually Portsmouth or Haslemere. Avoid the slow trains via Clandon or Effingham Junction. Catch a train from Waterloo about 9.30am to start the walk at around 10.00am.
If doing options c), d), f) or g) trains to or from Chilworth are only every two hours. You can reach London from here via Guildford or Redhill - both are usually equally quick. To do options c) or f) and get to lunch in Albury in time, trains from Waterloo or Victoria at 11.00 are the only viable choice Monday to Saturday. On Sunday you can choose between a 10.00 and 12.00 departure from Waterloo.
Another option from Chilworth is the number 32 bus runs roughly hourly from Chilworth station (same side of road, ie the opposite side of the road to the Percy Arms) to Guildford until around 7pm Monday to Saturday, journey time 16 minutes. On Sunday buses are only every two hours and the last bus is just before 6pm.
From Shalford (option e) trains to Guildford are hourly. There are also several bus routes into Guildford, with one continuing hourly into the evening.
The Drummond at Albury (01483 202 039 www.thedrummondarms.co.uk) 9.1km (5.6 miles) into the main walk, or 2.8km (1.7 miles) if you start from Chilworth, 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), 7.9km (4.9 miles) into the walk, is a possible alternative on option aii) the Shortcut via Chilworth, but can also be reached by a 1.6km (1 mile) diversion off the main walk. Describing itself as “a country pub and grillhouse, serving modern British cuisine with a South African twist” it is more of a restaurant than a pub inside, but will serve food in its bar area as well as in its large garden. In colder or wetter weather groups of more than eight should definitely phone to book a table. Food is served 12-3pm and 6-10pm Monday to Friday, 12-10pm on Saturday, and 12-9pm on Sunday.
Guildford has lots of options in and around the town’s picturesque high street. 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
It is tempting to think of medieval pilgrims stopping at St Martha’s-on-the-Hill church on their way from Winchester to Canterbury, but there is actually scant evidence for this. The church is on what is described as The Pilgrim’s Way on Ordnance Survey maps, but this turns out to have been the romantic notion of Victorian map makers rather than having any basis in historical fact. Chaucer and his pilgrims certainly didn’t come this way – in The Canterbury Tales they were travelling down Watling Street from London to Canterbury: what is now the A2. Nor is the church you see today that old – it is essentially a Victorian reconstruction of a Norman ruin. But still, it is the kind of place you can imagine medieval pilgrims might have come, and maybe that is enough.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (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