Holmwood to Shamley Green walk

The Greensand Way : Leith Hill and Tower, Holmbury Hill, Pitch Hill and the Hurt Wood


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.

Date Post # Weather
Sat, 20-Nov-21 Fading Autumn Color Along the Greensand Ridge (Holmwood to Shamley Green, Shalford or Guildford) 19 mild misty conditions
Sat, 26-Sep-20 Holmwood to Shamley Green - the Greensand Ridge, with woods and fine views 6
Sat, 10-Nov-18 Saturday walk - Holmwood to Shamley Green - Woods, more woods and some wonderful views 21 a bright morning but a wet afternoon
Sat, 11-Aug-18 Holmwood to Shamley Green 8 started sunny but became cloudy with some drizzle
Sat, 06-May-17 Holmwood to Shamley Green via the Greensand Way [Map-led Walk] 19 sunshine and cloud
Sat, 20-Nov-21
Fading Autumn Color Along the Greensand Ridge (Holmwood to Shamley Green, Shalford or Guildford)

SWC 287: Holmwood to Shamley Green, Shalford or Guildford t=swc.287

Distance: 11.6 miles (18.7 km), 14.5ish miles (23ish km) or 17.4 miles (28 km), respectively

Difficulty: 8 out of 10

Train: Take the 9:25 AM Horsham-bound train from London Victoria arriving in Holmwood at 10:29. Unless walking on to Shalford or Guilford, the return journey requires a bus from Shamley Green to Guildford (bus number 53 or 63), each bus runs hourly and takes about 10 minutes, the 53 at 22 past the hour and the 63 at 52 past the hour with the bus stop located conveniently opposite the pub! Plenty of trains in Guildford.....For those walking on to Shalford, trains run hourly at 31 past the hour (additionally the 53 and 63 buses both stop near the station). Buy a “any permitted” day return to Gomshall.

This walk provides a great late autumn outing with some invigorating hills to climb….Hopefully, there will also be some remaining flashes of color from the beech trees along the route….This is a largely map-led outing with a GPX file available for guidance. If you decide to walk to Shalford, you will need to consult the map and deviate from the GPX…it is a short diversion….With the short days upon us, the walk into Guildford would likely be in the dark, though it may be possible to make it to Shalford before darkness falls. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

The recommended lunch stop is the Royal Oak in Holmbury St. Mary (about 5 miles/9 km into the walk). Tea or afternoon refreshments can be enjoyed at the Red Lion in Shamley Green while waiting for the bus or at the Queen Victoria in Shalford also while waiting for the bus or train.

Enjoy the walk!

  • 21-Nov-21

    19 assembled on the Holmwood station platform, including one first timer in mild misty conditions . The group fragmented a bit on the way up Leith hill, some going the steep direct route, while others chose a less demanding contouring option. Most re-congregated at the summit to enjoy the views of the South Downs, some with a hot beverage in hand from the kiosk. Along the ridge were splashes of good autumn color, though the season is definitely drawing to a close. In Holmbury St. Mary, nine went to the Royal Oak pub (the King's Arms is still closed) and were later joined by two picnickers. Unfortunately I had to head back to London after lunch, but I understand the afternoon was uneventful with the beeches providing more pockets of color and some more faint views of the South Downs. The pub lunches arrived in Shamley Green about 5pm where some caught the 5.22 bus and others the 5.52....Not sure how many did an extended version, but know at least one was headed for Shalford when last seen.....

Sat, 26-Sep-20
Holmwood to Shamley Green - the Greensand Ridge, with woods and fine views
A "Suggest a Walk", suggested by Pauline... T=3.287
Length: 18.7km (11.6 miles)
Train Victoria: 9.25.
Clapham Junction: 9.32
Arrive Holmwood: 10.29

Bus Shamley Green to Guildford at something like 16.57, 17.12, 17.58, 18.37 and last bus 19.03. (Check times.)(My researches suggest 12, 32 and 52 past till 18.52, then 22 past - Ed)

Pub at end The Red Lion. Garden.

They used to be a café called the Speckledy Hen but it shuts at 4 pm if it survived.

Picnic lunch saves walking down road to pub and back again. The Royal Oak, although not a bad pub, and one that brews it’s own beer, it is slightly off the route.
  • Anonymous

    A neat 6 on this strenuous walk with spectacular viewpoint after viewpoint. Lunch was a picnic at Holmbury Hill. The threatened rain didn't happen though the morning sunshine didnt last the whole day. 5 of us took the bus from Shamley Green at the end.

Sat, 10-Nov-18
Saturday walk - Holmwood to Shamley Green - Woods, more woods and some wonderful views
Length: 18.7km (11.6 miles) - or 19.6km (12.2 miles) including the diversion to the lunch pub
Toughnesss: 8 out of 10: several big climbs

9.16 train from Victoria (9.24 Clapham Junction, 10.09 Sutton) to Holmwood, arriving 10.44.

Alternatively get the 9.39 train from Waterloo to Epsom, arriving 10.12, to connect with the above train at 10.20.

Buy a day return to Gomshall, making sure it is an “Any Permitted” ticket. This is a bit counter-intuitive because you are not going to Gomshall, but this ticket is valid via Dorking, the stop before Holmwood, and for return from Guildford. It would be a hard-hearted “on-board train manager” who also denied its validity from Dorking to Holmwood, but one such may exist.

For the first of my two autumn leaf colour blockbusters (cross fingers that the autumn colour cooperates....), I have selected this very woody section of the Greensand Way. Whatever autumn colour there is should be well displayed. Now and again the route also brings you to magnificent viewpoints, such as Leith Hill, the highest height in southern England, Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill

This is a “map-led” walk for the most part - ie no written directions. But please don’t let this put you off. Firstly, for the first three miles there ARE directions if you need them since the route follows the book 1 route from Holmwood to Leith Hill (link here, but note we will be doing the alternative start on page 7 of the directions). After that you are on the Greensand Way, which is fairly well waymarked and largely does what you expect it to do - ie it follows the escarpment. GPX-ers can download the entire route here or you can print off a map of the route here. More details of the walk are here.

The first refreshment stop on this walk is the National Trust tea kiosk in the side of Leith Hill Tower, 2.9 miles into the walk. Two miles further on a short diversion off the walk route brings you to the Royal Oak, Holmbury St Mary, which has several vegetarian and at at least one vegan option on its menu. The other pub option on this walk, the Kings Head, is currently closed.

The walk ends in Shamley Green, where the Red Lion is well-situated next to the bus stop. Number 53 and 63 buses to Guildford go from the opposite side of the road to the pub at 12, 32 and 52 past the hour until 18.52 and then at 19.22, 20.22, 21.22 and 22.22, taking 20 minutes.

RMT strike action for this Saturday has been cancelled, so trains back from Guildford to Waterloo should be every 15 minutes, taking 36-38 minutes. T=3.287
  • Anonymous

    Brilliant walk. Easy to follow route, as the Greensand Way is very well marked. Lunch: the Royal Oak, is the only option as The Kings Head is closed.

  • 10-Nov-18

    21 on this walk. They were rewarded with the most perfect autumn colours you ever saw - an absolute riot of gold that at times achieved New England levels of intensity. Beech trees were the main cause of this but every type of tree was fully turned. The best autumn walk ever!

    Or it was in the morning when the weather was fine: cloud and some sun; showers visible to the south from the airline-high eminence of Leith Hill but not coming near us. Several of us enjoyed a cup of tea at the National Trust kiosk there, which is now open daily year round.

    Descending to Holmbury, mountain bikers were a minor nuisance - they could be a worse one in summer. We found the Royal Oak empty, so perhaps booking a table was not necessary, but it did fill up later. Credit to them for several vegetarian and one vegan option, and for friendly and efficient service.

    One walker left in a taxi after lunch for - how can I say the words? - the AGM of ANOTHER walking club. Two other walkers, seeing drops of rain fall from a now grey sky, left with her. “Softies!” we thought, but they were right. It started showery but then rained relentlessly. So a bright morning but a wet afternoon .

    That was a shame as the leaf colour was if anything even better in the afternoon. There were also several dramatic views south across the tempestuous landscape. I hear some of the group got to the end of the walk at 4.30, others a bit later. But my two companions and I, the backmarkers, did not arrive till 5.30. It was a memorable last hour and a half in the gathering darkness and heavy rain, the ground underfoot turning to lakes and rivers. My waterproofs may not dry before next Saturday. But at least, on the first muddy day if the winter, our boots ended the day perfectly clean.

Sat, 11-Aug-18
Holmwood to Shamley Green

Length: 19km / 12m
Toughness: 8 / 10
Transport: Take the 9:25 from London Victoria arriving in Holmwood at 10:29. The return trip requires a bus journey from Shamley Green to Guildford. The bus times are:
63: xx:52 until 18:52
53: xx:12 & xx:32 until 18:32, then xx:22 until 22:22
There are many return trains from Guildford to London, some fast, some slow.
The walk author recommends to buy a day-return to Gomshall (see notes)
If you feel energetic you can also walk to Guildford using a map: Basically make your way westwards until just after Cranleigh Waters, then turn north until you hit the path along the River Wey Navigation which you follow into Guildford. This adds an estimated 8km to the walk.

Note: This walk is defined only by a gpx file. There are no walk instructions !
This is a pleasant woodland walk following mainly the Greensand Way passing several wonderful viewpoints.

  • 07-Aug-18

    Actually the walk author recommends you buy a day return to GOMSHALL, not Guildford. I doubt a day return to Guildford would be accepted via Dorking.

  • 07-Aug-18

    Apologies, Peter, I corrected the post.

  • Salim

    Is the Saturday walk really 8/10 toughness?

    Will there be an early break-out point?

  • Anonymous

    Hope to do this walk again did it last year led by aKa Walwith ker. Great wooded walks in the Greensand Way hills to climb and you will definitely enjoyed it. If I can get away from the workmen who is renovating my house I shall attend. Wish me luck.


  • Anonymous

    Sorry I meant to say the walk last year was led by AKa Walker.


  • Anonymous

    Hi Guys I shall be attending this walk a respite from the workmen. Hope to see some of you at Victoria station. Weather good and not too hot.


  • 13-Aug-18

    I believe there were five on the recommended train, another an hour later and two who started at Gomshall to make 8 on this walk. All managed to meet up at the Royal Oak at lunch time - the King's Head is currently closed for renovations. The day started sunny but became cloudy with some drizzle . Most caught the 17:32 bus to Guildford. Two stopped for a drink at the red Lion, one of whom then caught the 18:12 bus while the other walked on to Guildford.

Sat, 06-May-17
Holmwood to Shamley Green via the Greensand Way [Map-led Walk]
There is no walk name or number: this is an experimental map-led walk: see below t=swc.287
Length: 18.2km (11.3 miles)
Toughness: expect several big ascents and descents

Interminable engineering works on the Guildford line have finally been completed, allowing me to try this idea, which has been festering in the dark recesses of my brain for some time.

The idea is to use the book 1 Holmwood to Gomshall directions to the top of Leith Hill (though with a slightly shorter start which I will explain on the day) and then follow the Greensand Way west - NEW territory for the SWC. There are no walk directions for this last two thirds of the walk: it is hopefully waymarked, but bring maps or map apps if you have them.

Basic GPX or KML

Note that this is a map-led walk NOT a led walk: ie like all our walks it has no leader. You are ultimately responsible for finding your own way, though past experience suggests that there will be some "cooperative navigation" .

There may be bluebells en route - it is likely territory for them - but I have never done the walk so don't know. There looks to be quite lot of woodland which will be full of fresh green foliage (another reason to do this walk now). Some good escarpment views - eg from Leith Hill and from Holmbury Hill (the latter just after lunch).

9.24 train from Waterloo (9.33 Clapham Junction) to Epsom, arriving 9.57, changing there for the 10.09 train to Holmwood, arriving 10.32. This two stage journey from Waterloo is necessary due to last minute engineering works in the Sutton area but does not add significantly to journey times.

Note: There will be a 30-strong Meet-Up Group - sigh! - making the same journey. They will also get off at Holmwood. Make sure you don't join with the wrong group. They are also going up Leith Hill but after that are going a different way. If it turns out they are going the same way up Leith Hill as us, we will go up another way - there are various options.

Buy an ANY PERMITTED day return to Gomshall ** - important! NOT via Redhill only (though at Waterloo "any permitted" is what the ticket machines will likely offer you). In theory you also will need a single from Dorking to Holmwood... ** OR an any permitted day return to Shalford. Our resident train guru says this is cheaper than a return to Gomshall and still valid via Dorking and Guildford: your choice


Lunch: will be in Holmbury St Mary, 2 miles after Leigh Hill = 5 miles into the walk. The most convenient pub seems to be the King's Head (01306 730282), which looks to be almost on the GSW route and has a large garden: I have rung them and made a booking for 10 people for 1pm, though they say Saturday lunchtimes are "usually not a problem": we can still sit in the garden if it is sunny. An alternative up the road 450 metres to the north is the Royal Oak (01306 898010).

Mid afternoon drinks (3 miles after lunch) may be possible at the Ewhurst Windmill, described as "more of a restaurant than a pub", but apparently willing to serve drinks in the afternoon and having a deck with a fine view.

The walk ends in the pretty village of Shamley Green where there is a lovely pub on the village green - the Red Lion. It is open all afternoon for drinks: if you want to have dinner there, it serves food from 6.30pm.


53/63 buses to Guildford go from the other side of the road to the Red Lion at 12, 32 and 52 past the hour until 18.52, then 19.22, 20.22, 21.22, 22.22, 23.30, taking 20 minutes.

Trains back from Guildford to Waterloo go every 15 minutes or so (eg 02, 17, 34. 47 and 54) and are covered by the Gomshall/Shalford return. These are the fast trains: don't get the slow train via Clandon by mistake

  • 03-May-17

    Sounds like a very interesting route.

    - You can also get a bus earlier from the Duke of York's School

    - These 2 Greensand Way walks follow the middle and end parts of it if you need the GPS.

    https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/walk/gomshall-to-dorking/map.html and https://www.walkingclub.org.uk/walk/witley-to-ewhurst/map.html

  • Anonymous

    Is there a basic GPX track for the whole route? Could you post a link to it?

  • 03-May-17

    If you read the walk post (!!) , I said:

    I have also created a basic GPX track: email saturdaywalkersATyahooDOTcoDOTuk and I will send it to you.

  • Sandy

    This route piqued my interest too but I won't be able to do the whole walk. I may investigate getting the train to Gomshall or bus from Dorking and joining you at lunchtime. I'm pretty familiar with the area but am not promising to navigate successfully. i don't think the Greensand Way markers are 100% reliable so definitely take a map, digital or other.

  • E.D.

    Could I suggest a slight detour after Leith Hill Tower to Leith Hill Wood? It is a rhododendron wood, managed by the National Trust, open to all, and must be looking lovely at this time of year. It can be reached by a footpath down from the Greensand Way not long after Leith Tower, or by the lane that the Greensand crosses a little further on. Here is a link https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill/features/the-rhododendron-wood-at-leith-hill. It is marked with a flower on recent ordnance survey maps.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Re obtaining the GPS file is the email address correct? It bounced back as no such account. I replaced with the two periods as appropriate

  • 05-May-17

    The email address is correct. As well as replacing the DOTs you also need to replace AT with @, of course.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks found my error I left the A of the original AT in place.



  • 06-May-17

    19 on this walk on a day of sunshine and cloud , though a rather hazy one. This became apparent when we got to the top of Leith Hill and found the views a bit limited. But it was nice to sit in the sun with a cuppa from the kiosk and sense the vastness of England in the semi-murk below.

    Carrying on westwards, we found the Greensand Way very wooded and very well waymarked - little navigation, collaborative or otherwise, was needed. The woods were a bit dull at times on the descent to Holmbury, but in the afternoon were enlivened by new green foliage on beech and sweet chestnut. There were also several fine viewpoints - most notably Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill, which were separated by a big descent and ascent and the crossing of a lovely green valley.

    For lunch the Kings Head proved fairly small and basic with limited choice on its menu (especially for vegans). Having been relaxed in the week when I phoned and booked for ten, they got rather panicked when 14 of us stopped for lunch, but they managed reasonably well. Portion sizes were good.

    Mid afternoon we got all excited at the prospect of a drink with a view at the Ewhurst Windmill pub, but it was closed, so instead we had to keep our thirst in check on the three mile descent (passing an interesting curved wooden shelter) to more open terrrain of the valley. Here we had tea and drinks at outside tables on the village green, just a short dash across the road from the very frequent buses. The first swifts I have seen this year screeched overhead.

  • E.D.

    Not wanting this lovely walk to end, I extended it by leaving the Greensand Way after the "flattened pine cone" viewpoint at Winterfold Hill, and headed up to Chilworth station via Black Heath.

    It was risky as trains are only once every two hours, but the going is much flatter than on the Greensand and despite losing my bearings on Black Heath I managed to make the 17.59 train.

    This extension provides more beautiful woodland and heath but with a different feel from the Greensand, more quiet and remote. There were bluebells and at one point some naturalised yellow azaleas.

    Early in the walk a couple of us also took a detour to the National Trust Rhododendron Wood at Leith Hill. There is a path running south from the Greensand alongside a lane, and took only a few minutes to get there. The pinks, reds and yellows of the rhododendrons were underlaid with bluebells, so the colour combinations were pretty.