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.

The Way near Shalford

The Way near Shalford

30-Oct-04 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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St Martha's Hill

St Martha's Hill

15-Feb-19 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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St Martha's Hill

St Martha's Hill

15-Feb-19 • Saturdaywalker on Flickr

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Wey-South Path under water At Guildford lock

Wey-South Path under water

At Guildford lock

17-Jan-10 • rootebeete on Flickr

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Flooded Field Chantries Hills in the background

Flooded Field

Chantries Hills in the background

17-Jan-10 • rootebeete on Flickr

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Field turned into a large duck pond At least some creatures were enjoying the flood

Field turned into a large duck pond

At least some creatures were enjoying the flood

17-Jan-10 • rootebeete on Flickr

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Chantries Horses Happily munching away at the hay

Chantries Horses

Happily munching away at the hay

17-Jan-10 • rootebeete on Flickr

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Length

Main walk: 20.3km (12.6 miles)

a) Short cut through the woods: saves 1km (0.6 miles)

b) Ending at Chilworth: 13.1km (8.1 miles) )

c) Ending at Shalford: 17.5km (10.9 miles)

d) Starting at Chilworth: 14km (8.7 miles)

e) Starting at Chilworth, ending at Shalford: 11.2km (6.9 miles)

f) Guildford Circular via Chilworth: 17.1km (10.6 miles)

g) Guildford to Chilworth (short): 7.9km (4.9 miles)

Toughness

4 out of 10: two extended hill climbs near the start: otherwise fairly gentle gradients

Maps

Explorer 145, Landranger 186

Features

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.

Walk options

a) 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.

b) Ending at 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.

c) Ending at 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.

d) Starting at Chilworth. 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.

e) Starting at Chilworth, ending at Shalford. Using the option d) start and option c) 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).

f) 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:

  • i) Short cut via the Downs Link. There is no pub lunch on this option, but unlike option ii) below it avoids road walking altogether and crosses an interesting area of heathland managed by the National Trust. There is a good picnic spot about halfway.
  • ii) Short cut via the Percy Arms. This takes you through an interesting area along the Tillingbourne River that was once the site of a gunpowder factory and is now managed as a nature reserve, before delivering you to the Percy Arms, a possible lunch stop. After lunch there is an 500 metre stretch along a quiet, but not traffic-free, road on which some care may be needed.

    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.

  • Transport

    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 b), d), e) or g) trains to or from Chilworth are only every two hours. Travelling from Waterloo with a change at Guildford from Waterloo usually provides the best connection (one hour journey time in total), but it is worth checking London Bridge via Redhill if that is more convenient to you. Currently there is a 10.30 and 12.30 option from Waterloo Monday to Saturday, and 9.30 and 11.30 on Sundays.

    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.

    Lunch

    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. It is open and serves food 12-3pm and 6-10pm Monday to Friday and all afternoon on Saturday and Sunday.

    Tea

    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 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. If ending in Chilworth (option b or g), the Percy Arms is a possible tea stop.

    History

    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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    Dec-21 Peter

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