Shulbrede Priory & its woods
|Length||15km (9.3 miles), 4 hours 30 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains and meals, allow 8 hours.|
|Toughness||5 out of 10.|
|OS Maps||Explorer OL33 (was 133) or Landranger 186. Liphook, map reference SU 842 309, is in Hampshire, 15km south of Farnham. Haslemere is in Surrey.|
This walk, one of my favourites, has plenty of relatively mild uphill and downhill sections. It is almost entirely through full-grown mixed woods - mainly oak, beech and chestnut trees. After passing Shulbrede Priory in the middle of the woods, you come to the pub and church by the village green in Fernhurst. In the afternoon, you cross streams in the forest before passing through Valewood Park and up into Haslemere, a town surrounded by beautiful countryside.
The path after lunch is usually muddy, at any time of year.
You could shorten the walk by using the hourly Monday to Saturday bus service from Fernhurst, the halfway mark lunchtime village, back to Haslemere; the bus goes from the top of Hogs Hill Road in Fernhurst, along the A286.
Walk 22 (Haslemere Circular) uses the same pub in Fernhurst for lunch. For a longer and more energetic walk, you could substitute its afternoon route, climbing Black Down on the way back to Haslemere.
Shulbrede Priory is the remains of a priory for Augustinian regular canons dating from about 1200. It was dissolved in 1536, with the King's Commissioner alleging that 26 whores were found at the priory, and it is now a private house. The prior's chamber, above a vaulted undercroft, contains sixteenth-century wall paintings. The priory is open to visitors by appointment (tel 01428 653 049) and also on the Sunday and Monday of the late May and August bank holidays (admission is about £2.50).
In Tudor and Stuart times Haslemere was a centre for the iron industry. With the coming of the railway in the mid-nineteenth century it became a popular spot for literary people. The poet Tennyson's house, Aldworth, is on the slopes of Black Down where he loved to walk and George Eliot wrote Middlemarch in Shottermill.
Haslemere has an interesting museum up the High Street, 100 metres north of the Georgian Hotel. The museum is open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday, and has important natural history collections. Other highlights include an Egyptian mummy, Zulu beadwork and Eastern European peasant art.
Take the train nearest to 9.45am from Waterloo Station to Liphook. Journey time 1 hour 15 minutes. You can sometimes save 15 minutes by taking a faster train and changing at Haslemere. There are four trains an hour back from Haslemere (two on Sundays). Journey time 50-60 minutes. Buy a day return to Liphook.
Parking at Haslemere Station costs £5.50 Mon-Fri, £3 Sat, £1 Sun. Parking is easier at Liphook Station (weekdays after 10:30 and Sat £2, free on Sun), but trains back from Haslemere are only hourly.
|Lunch||The suggested lunchtime stop is the Red Lion pub (tel 01428 643 112), by the village green at Fernhurst, offering quality home cooking. It serves food until 2.30pm daily. Groups of more than 20 people should phone to book.|
There are two suggested tea places on Haslemere High Street, opposite one another, both with inside and outside seating areas. Darnleys tearoom (tel 01428 643 048) serves, tea, cakes and meals, seven days a week, until 5.00 pm. Hemingways (tel 01428 656904) serves teas amd meals until 5.00 pm Monday to Friday, 5.30 pm on Saturday and until 4.00 pm on Sunday
Alternatives are the Swan Inn (a Wetherspoons), or the White Horse Hotel (food: midday-3.00 pm and 6.00 pm-9.30pm Monday to Friday; midday-9.30pm Saturday; midday-9.00 pm Sunday), both in the High Street. The station is a ten minute walk from the town centre.
No major changes.
The Red Lion (lunch pub is fine now. There is a new pub/hotel opposite the station.
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 1. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
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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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
-  Coming off the London train, cross the footbridge. On leaving the Liphook Station building, turn right into the station car park, go under the road bridge and immediately turn left up some steps . At the top, turn left and cross the railway bridge, your direction 140°.
- Follow the road for 650 metres ignoring all ways off, including Churcher's College Junior School, until you come to a road on the left signposted Highfield School where you turn left, your direction 50°.  In 20 metres turn right on to a bridleway into the wood, your direction 105°. Follow this path, ignoring ways off. There is a single post after 100 metres and in a further 100 metres you have the start of a ditch and fence on your left-hand side. In 200 metres you pass a two-armed sign and keep ahead. In 40 metres the wood opens out a little and the path curves slightly left. Now keeep ahead on a clear path which is to the left and parallel to a former sunken path to its right, your direction 105°.
- In 300 metres you come to a post with a blue arrow pointing left. You now have a choice of routes - the Book's original route, and a New Route through Access Land (which cuts out some 600 metres of track walking).
- The Original Route .Follow the blue arrow to turn left uphill, your direction 40°.
- In 100 metres, go straight on to join the broad track which has come in from behind you on your left-hand side. The track immediately curves left and crosses a cattle grid. In another 140 metres, at a three-armed footpath sign (with a metal gate away to the left), leave the Sussex Border Path to turn right onto a broad track designated the New Lipchis Way , your direction 130°.
- Go straight on along this broad track for 900 metres. The New Route joins 600 metres along this track. The New Route . At the footpath post with blue arrow keep ahead and in 65 metres you go through a wooden kissing gate into Access Land, with a Lynchmere Society Notice board 3 metres beyond, to keep ahead on a clear path with a post and wire fence on your right, your direction 105°. In 350 metres the path starts to go uphill and diverges from the fence on its right. The wood soon thins out to light brush and heather and in 150 metres you come out onto the track (New Lipchis Way) where you turn right , your direction 140°. Both Routes . Keep ahead on the New Lipchis Way and just before you exit the wood you come to a four-armed footpath sign. You go straight on, in 20 metres crossing over a cattle grid, now on a surfaced road, your direction 105°. In 120 metres go through a wooden field gate (or cross the stile to its right) to pass a farmhouse.
- Keep to the right of the farm buildings, and in 30 metres go through another wooden fieldgate (or over another stile) and in 50 metres, as the main track turns left, go straight on following the footpath sign, your direction 100°, downhill.
- In 130 metres, with good views of Marley Common on your left-hand side, follow the track half-right downhill, your direction 140°. Ignore another track forking right uphill.
- In 180 metres, the path curves in a hairpin to the left. 40 metres after the bend, as the path levels out, at a two-armed footpath sign turn sharp right steeply downhill , in a cutting and through a chestnut coppice, your direction initially 70, then 95°.
- In 150 metres at the T-junction at the bottom, by a three-armed footpath sign, turn left, your direction 40°.
- In 220 metres, by a large beech tree with a dozen trunks, follow the footpath post straight on, a path having joined yours from above on your left.
- In a further 80 metres, by a two-armed footpath sign, leave your main path to follow the sign forking right, your direction 80°.
-  [Nov'16 - We've had reports of an aggressive dog in this area] In 120 metres you pass a house and garden, keeping their wooden fence on your right-hand side. Then in 25 metres, by a three-armed footpath sign, go through a wooden fieldgate and turn sharp right , with the house fence still on your right-hand side, your direction 150°. In 25 metres, bear right to cross "Baldwin Bridge", go through the (usually propped open) wooden fieldgate at its end and immediately turn left through another fieldgate to go down a wide grassy path, your direction 95°.
- In 100 metres, at the bottom of the slope, the path bends to the right, your direction initially 150°.
- Follow the wide grassy path through the plantation ignoring all turn-offs and in 400 metres, you come to a T-junction at the edge of the plantation and a two-armed footpath sign, which you follow by turning left , your direction 70°, on a car-wide earth track.
- In 40 metres, cross a stream. In a further 70 metres, ignore a path off to the right and continue towards Shulbrede Priory (as marked on the OS map) just visible through the trees ahead of you.
- In 125 metres, at the tarmac road T-junction turn left , your direction 355°, passing Shulbrede Priory on your right-hand side. 50 metres beyond the white gates to the building, turn right on a car-wide earth road, with a cottage and large bird house on your left-hand side, your direction 70°.
- In 200 metres, go over a stream and follow the earth road round to the right, your direction now 140°.
-  In 150 metres, by the three-armed footpath sign, at a track junction, turn left, gently uphill into Greenhill Wood (so marked on the OS map), your direction 45°.
- In 130 metres, ignore a fork off to the left (marked ‘Private’) to keep straight on, uphill.
- In 25 metres go through a wooden kissing gate to the left of a metal fieldgate, to keep ahead, steadily uphill, into woodland.
- Follow the main woodland path, mostly uphill, ignoring all ways off, for 900 metres in an easterly direction, following footpath signs at intervals until you come to a signed path going downhill which you ignore, to go straight on.
- In a further 450 metres, bear slightly left following the footpath sign, as the main track descends downhill to the right.
- In 180 metres you come to a broken stile with a metal fieldgate to its left, then to a four-armed footpath sign. 1 metre beyond the stile, go right downhill on a path, your direction 140°. (There is another path a few metres further on, should this path be excessively muddy.)
-  In 50 metres, you come out on to a tarmac road by Updown Cottage. Go to the right down this road, your direction due south and in 350 metres you come to an old house and garden called Thrae (on your left hand side).
- 100 metres beyond Thrae’s entrance take a footpath to the left across green open space, with oak trees, your direction 150° .
- In 50 metres fork right into the woods proper and go down steps to cross a stream on a three plank bridge, then up steps on the other side (ignoring turn-offs, and now with gardens on your right-hand side). In 450 metres go across the main road (the A286), straight over and down Hogs Hill Road, keeping to this tarmac road for 400 metres down to the Red Lion pub, which is the suggested lunchtime stop.
- After lunch the route is relatively gently uphill for the first 2.5km, on bridleways that can be very muddy. Turn left out of the pub and left again down the side of the pub and alongside its back garden, following the footpath sign’s direction (85°). In 20 metres pass Manesty Cottage on your right-hand side, and in a further 40 metres you enter the woods.
- Keep to the main path. In 115 metres, you cross a stream and in a further 30 metres you ignore a fork off to the right. In a further 105 metres, you pass two metal fieldgates off to your left.
- In a further 225 metres, bend right with the main path to cross a stream where the water falls down from a storm pipe, with the stream soon on your left-hand side .
- In 165 metres, at the next T-junction, with a wooden barn opposite, turn left following the footpath sign, on a car-wide earth track, uphill, your direction 30°.
- In 80 metres, at a crossing of paths, with a three-armed footpath sign on your right, take the wide left fork uphill, your direction due north, a potentially muddy path.
- Follow the track as it winds uphill, ignoring turn-offs. 380 metres further uphill, after a crossing of paths, follow the public footpath as it bends to the right, still uphill, your direction 60°.
- In 150 metres, at a path junction, fork left following the footpath sign, your direction 345°.
- In 340 metres, at the top of the incline, with a ditch stream on your right-hand side, ignore a fork down to the left, to keep straight on.
- In 150 metres, you come to a bridleway T-junction by a three-armed footpath sign. Take the level way to the left, virtually straight on, your direction 315°, ignoring the bridleway uphill and behind to your right. In 20 metres you pass a broad grass avenue going uphill on your right. Ignore all ways off and in 120 metres, at a major crosspaths, take the fork, not straight on, but slightly to the right, a signposted bridleway, your direction 350°; (the grass avenue uphill to its immediate right is again marked ‘Private’).
- Keep to this path and in 130 metres go over a grassy path crossing and in a further 20 metres you come to a wooden panel fence on your left-hand side with a thatched converted barn beyond.
- Keep ahead for 200 metres, initially on a grassy, car-wide way, which turns to earth as it ascends and, by a two-armed footpath sign, fork left , your direction 15°, to drop down to a tarmac road 20 metres below.
-  Cross straight over the tarmac road to take the signposted footpath downwards (a restricted byway), your direction 315°.
- [!] In 120 metres, by a post on your left-hand side (may be easy to miss in summer) with a yellow and green arrow, follow the yellow arrow and climb the bank by going very sharp right on a faint footpath steeply uphill , your direction due east.
- In 100 metres, you come to a low mesh fence where you follow the footpath sign to the left , with the fence on your right-hand side. In 30 metres, go over a stile and turn right along the edge of a field, a wooden fence on your right-hand side, your direction 345°. In 100 metres, go over a stile and straight on. (These horse paddocks can be very muddy – it is possible to make your way on the other side of the electric fence to point  replacing removable poles where you cross back.)
- In 200 metres, at the far right corner of the field, go over a stile and bear right to follow the footpath sign on a path with fences on both sides, your direction 90°.
-  In 100 metres, come out through a broad opening on to a tarmac road by Wadesmarsh Farmhouse.
- Cross over the road, slightly to the left, to continue on a signposted bridleway, your direction 10°. In 30 metres, you pass through a wooden swing gate to the left of a wooden fieldgate to enter the National Trust’s Valewood Park. There are good views of Black Down on your right-hand side.
- Keep straight on for 500 metres on a grassy way until you come to a large and isolated oak tree with a three-armed footpath sign next to it, at which point you leave the main track to fork left, your direction 330° .
- In 100 metres go through a wooden swing gate into the wood. Keep to the main way straight on. In 300 metres, ignore a fork to the right and in a further 35 metres ignore one sharply to the left. In another 125 metres, and 5 metres before you have a wooden kissing gate and a wooden fieldgate ahead of you, by a three-armed footpath sign, turn right downwards on the Serpent Trail, your direction 50°. Go down earthen steps and on a series of planks over a potentially muddy zone, to veer left with the path at the bottom of the hill and continue with the stream on your right-hand side.
- In 75 metres, go on two planks over the stream and in 25 metres, you come out on to a road near the entrance to Valewood Farm House . Turn left on the road and then immediately sharp right to go past Stedlands Farm on your left, your direction 40°.
- Go past the entrance drive on your right that leads to ‘The Stables’, a large new brick house with diamond-paned windows. In 10 metres, at a fork in the track marked with a footpath sign, take the left-most bridleway uphill, your direction 20°. Then go fairly steeply uphill, ignoring turn-offs. In 500 metres, you come to a tarmac road at the top with a house called Littlecote on your left-hand side. Turn left and in 20 metres turn right up a tarmac path marked ‘Neighbourhood Watch Area’, with an anti-motorbike barrier at its start, the direction 20°, and soon with playing fields on your left-hand side.
- In 350 metres, cross another tarmac road and keep straight on down a path with steps between high hedges, to the main road, the B2131. . Turn left and then in 150 metres turn right into Haslemere High Street . In 40 metres, you pass the Swan Inn on your left and the White Horse Hotel on your right-hand side. 100 metres beyond this, you come to the suggested tea places, Darnleys across the road to your left, and Hemingways on your right.
- Coming out of Darnleys, turn right and in 25 metres turn right again down West Street, signposted to the police station. In 120 metres, where the main street curves to the right past the police station (which is on your right-hand side), take the street straight on to the fire station, but then not the tempting path straight on; instead, turn left in front of the fire station and take the footpath that goes down the left-hand side of the building, signposted ‘Footpath to the station’, your direction 315°.
- Follow this path, with a stream to your right and later a playground to your left, till you come out on to a tarmac road with Redwood Manor opposite. Turn left and in 40 metres, turn right on to the B2131, leading in 260 metres to Haslemere Station on your right-hand side. The London platforms (2 and 3) are over the footbridge.