Milford to Godalming walk
The Greensand Way, Winkworth(a NT Arboretum), a canal, and historic Godalming.
The Greensand Way & Winkworth Arboretum
|18.58km (11.55 miles), 5 hours. For the whole outing, including trains, meals and a church visit, allow 8 hours.
|5 out 10. Ascent 305 metres, descent 320 metres.
|Explorers 145, OL33 (was 133) & OL34 (was 134), or Landranger 186. Milford, map reference SU 955 414, is in Surrey, 9km south of Guildford.
This is a walk full of interest and variety - the Greensand Way, a pretty village pub, a NT Arboretum (that's free to walk through), a tea room by a canal, and historic Godalming's coffee shops, cafes and pubs to end.
From Milford Station, you come to the lakes and the magnificent timber-framed Enton Mill – one of the many houses on this walk that have seventeenth or eighteenth-century galleting – black pebbles lining the mortar of the walls, a method much used in those days in Kent and the south. Near a pub and church in Hambledon, you join the Greensand Way, a sandy bridleway through The Hurtwood, offering hazelnuts and blackberries in season.
Lunch is at the White Horse pub in Hascombe, a village with a remarkable church covered in wall decoration, so that it looks almost Moorish.
In the afternoon, the walk goes on legitimate public rights of way that give free access to the National Trust's Winkworth Arboretum and its lakes – the azaleas and bluebells make it particularly lovely to visit in spring time - and you leave along the fringes of its woods then on to a horse training course and the rich outskirts of Godalming, with its many imposing buildings.
The final approach to the town is along the National Trust's River Wey and Godalming Navigation’s path along the canal, to the Church of St Peter and St Paul and the ancient High Street.
Bits of the walk can be muddy in wet weather.
You could call for a taxi from the Merry Harriers pub in Hambledon. Arriva bus 42 is meant to operate once an hour (not Sundays) from Hascombe to Godalming, passing Winkworth Arboretum, but the pub's landlord has reported the bus service to be unreliable, with a last bus on Saturdays sometimes being as early as 15-10 hrs.
You could start the walk from Witley railway station and head for Hambledon on the Greensand Way. This would reduce the length of the walk to Godalming by just under one mile. Directions for this alternative start will be added in due course.
If you have a map, you can save about 1km near the end of the walk by heading for Farncombe Station rather than Godalming; it is about 750m from the Farncombe Boat House.
There is a short map-only out-and-back detour to the summit of Hydon's Ball (a hill, and a HUMP) in the morning. On the way up you pass a memorial to 2 brothers killed in WW1. A bequest in their name was used to purchase this area for the NT. The summit itself was purchased for the NT in memory of Octavia Hill [wikipedia], a 19thC social reformer, one of the NT's 3 co-founders. There's a memorial seat, and a clearing with a nice view. Hydon's Ball may have been named after a Naval Semephore Station (dropping of the ball is a time signal). The area is also noted for its range of tree species, and non-native shrubs. The detour adds about 1 miles with 70 of ascent. There are no directions, but the route is in the GPS file. Highly recommended. There is a free NT car park north of the summit on Salt Lane.
This is another out-and-back detour to hill summit (and HUMP), which starts by the lunch time pub in Hascombe. The way up is pleasent. No viewpoint at the summit (trees), but there are remains of an iron age fort. Map only, but the route is in the GPS file. Adds about 1.2 miles, with 80m of ascent.
The timber-framed Enton Mill was built in 1757.
St Peter's Church, Hascombe, was rebuilt in 1863, following the old Saxon design, but slightly larger and incorporating older features such as the seventeenth-century font. At the same time, Canon Musgrave had almost every inch of wall space decorated 'to make us aware of God's glory shining through the physical world'. Above the altar is an ornate dome, formed from the decorated undersides of the roof's supporting timbers, and allowing a view through to the hallelujahs painted on the roof. John Betjeman called it 'a Tractarian work of art'. (The white button for the lights is just through the curtains, up on the left.)
Winkworth Arboretum extends to 95 acres and exhibits over 1,000 species of trees, with fine displays of azaleas and rhododendrons and bluebells in season. The arboretum was started in 1938 by a Dr Wilfrid Fox, a dermatologist at St Georges Hospital, Hyde Park Corner, London, who planted out the site through the War, and when completed in 1952, he presented the Arboretum to the National Trust, the present day owners. Access to the Arboretum's grounds is free to NT Members. For non-Members, the entrance fee for adults (2024) is £ 12 without gift aid with family tickets and concessions available. The Arboretum is open from 10 am to 5 pm (4 pm in winter), with last admission one hour before closing time, and its Tea Room 10 am to 4.30 pm (3.30 pm in winter). The walk through the Arboretum is on official public footpaths but staff sometime stop people on the public footpath when you pass the NT Visitor hut to ask if they are members (as they get per-visitor funding). If you are a NT Member, let them scan your pass. If not a member, be polite but firm, and just say you're using the public footpaths.
The Old Cider House , Catteshall, was previously the Ram Cider House pub (which took its name from the Ram gravity pump used for raising water). The house is based on a wattle-and-daub sixteenth-century building and the pub used to sell 35 different types of cider.
Godalming is thought to mean 'field (-ing) of Godhelm' (the putative first Saxon to claim the land). It was a coaching town between London and Portsmouth, and a centre of trade in wool, stone-quarrying, timber, leather, paper, corn and brewing. The High Street has many half-timbered and projecting buildings.
|Take the train nearest to 9.40am from Waterloo Station to Milford. Buy a day return to Milford (Surrey). Journey time 50 minutes. There are two trains an hour back from Godalming (hourly on Sundays), with a similar journey time.
An early lunch is possible at the Merry Harriers pub and hotel (tel 01428 682 883) near Hambledon, some 4 km into the walk, which serves lunch to non-residents from Wednesday to Saturday, midday to 2.30 pm, and on Sunday from midday to 3 pm. Groups of more than 6 should book. One of the more unusual features of the Merry Harriers is its Llama Tours (they have eleven Llamas), which can be seen from the pub's back garden.
But the main, suggested lunchtime stop is the White Horse pub (tel 01483 208 258) in Hascombe, some 8.1 km into the walk, which serves good food from midday to 2.20pm, Monday to Friday, and throughout the afternoon at weekends. Groups of more than 6 people should phone to book, and phoning ahead on Sunday is essential. The pub has a nice beer garden.
For a non-pub lunch, the cafe by the entrance to Winkworth Arboretum , some 10.9 km into the walk, serves a limited selection of hot dishes and a range of sandwiches
The suggested tea place is Hector's On the Wey café (tel 01483 421306) at the Farncombe Boat House, Catteshall Lock, just outside Godalming. This serves strong tea and a good selection of cakes. Groups of more than 6 should phone ahead. This is open until 5pm Wednesday to Sunday during the summer and at weekends in the winter. Allow 30 minutes to reach Godalming station.
If the Farncombe Boat House café is closed, the suggested tea stop in the centre of Godalming is Cafe Mila (tel 01483 808569) in Angel Court, just off the High Street. The ground floor is the family area and upstairs is reserved for adults. Other tea options in Godalming include the usual suspects, such as Caffè Nero at 69 High Street and Costa Coffee at 74 High Street.
Another good tea stop is Changing Perceptions Community Cafe and Workshop (tel 01483 420436) at 133A High Street. Open until 5pm Monday to Friday, to 4.30pm Saturday, closed Sundays. This community project offers training and employment opportunities for those with disabilities. Its cakes in the cafe section are reported to be delicious.
Earlier in the walk, if you take an early lunch at the Merry Harriers pub, the cafe in Winkworth Arboretum could act as an early tea stop for those "three stopping" on this walk.
Godalming at the end has many pubs.
No major changes. Minor route change after Winkworth Arboretum June 2018. Lunch and Tea update January 2024. Book check and walk update from Milford to Winkworth Arboretum October 2022. Admissions update and minor route updates January 2024.
This walk was originally published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 1. We now recommend using this online version as the book is dated.
The book contained 53 walks, 1 for every week of the year and 1 to spare. Here is our suggested schedule
After the walk, please leave a comment, it really helps. Thanks!
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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-  Coming out of Milford Railway Station, cross the railway footbridge and exit platform 1 on the station building side by a white gate.
- Cross over the main road to take the footpath opposite, between fences; this narrow path runs parallel to the railway lines on its left-hand side, your direction 200°.
- In 425 metres the path bends right away from the railway lines and in a further 200 metres you begin to see lakes to the left-hand side. Then in 100 metres your path joins a farm track to continue straight on.
- In 300 metres cross a road (The Quest and Lakes Cottage are to your left) and continue ahead on a footpath, your direction 210°.
- In 140 metres you come out on a road T-junction and you turn left, your direction 110°.
- In 210 metres bear right with the road, a stream (visible in winter) now on your left-hand side.
- In 150 metres you pass the very lovely Enton Mill on your left-hand side, to go under a railway bridge and continue on the road, gently uphill.
- 300 metres beyond the bridge, you come to a T-junction, by a barn supported on wooden pillars on your right-hand side . Turn right, your direction 170° onto a gravel track, gently uphill. In 140 metres, at a T-junction, cross it to go straight on, your direction 120°, on a signposted footpath into light woodland, initially uphill.
- In 130 metres exit the wood by a stile and bear half right your direction 130°.
- In 90 metres you pass a metal barrier (a kissing gate minus tongue), then go through a metal swing gate and bear half left over and down a large field, your direction 125°. In 200 metres go through a wooden kissing gate and cross a car lane, to continue into another field, heading towards a lake (visible in winter). Keep the mini-pylons on your right, your direction due south.
- In 325 metres you enter the fringes of a wood, passing to the left of a metal swing gate.
- In 40 metres, by a pylon, fork left, following a yellow footpath arrow on a post, your direction 160°.
- In 100 metres you come to a post with arrows and turn left , your direction 100°, initially following overhead mini-pylons.
- In 65 metres, at a path junction, keep straight on (slightly left), your direction 110° on a sandy path. Ignore tracks to the right and in 100 metres, you come to a T-junction and a potentially muddy zone by a post with multiple arrows, at the edge of the wood. You go left, your direction 70°.
- In 65 metres you veer right with this wide bridleway, out of the wood, your direction now due east, following mini-pylons.
- In 600 metres you come out to a car road T-junction with the Merry Harriers pub to your right, a possible early lunch stop.
- Turn right on the road, your direction 165°. In 25 metres turn left on to the signposted public footpath opposite the pub, through a metal kissing gate, your direction 75° into a strip of wood.
- In 60 metres go through a wooden kissing gate and keep ahead, uphill. In 85 metres bend right with this path, uphill and now in a cutting, and in a further 100 metres the path becomes a driveway for houses. In 65 metres you come out on a tarmac road and turn left, uphill, your direction 110°. In 50 metres you come to St Peter's Church, Hambledon, well worth a look inside. In the churchyard wall there is a well preserved ancient lime kiln "in use until the 19th century".
- Just past the church, but still alongside its churchyard wall , fork right on a signposted public bridleway (an earth car road), your direction 125° – and a small parking area on your left-hand side. You are now on the Greensand Way (so marked on the OS map).
- Keep on this earth road and, in 450 metres, it becomes a narrower path. In a further 370 metres, you come to a T-junction with a three-armed bridleway sign where you turn right, on a sandy road, your direction 170°.
- [!] In 20 metres turn left up an easy-to-miss public bridleway, your direction 150°, to go along the north fringe of a wood. In 170 metres, at a post on your left with blue arrows, fork right, down into the wood, your direction 140°, and ignoring ways off to remain on the Greensand Way.
- In 125 metres, at the bottom of the slope, keep on, following a GW and bridleway sign (with a parallel car road on your right). In a further 75 metres, ignore a lesser car-wide way straight on, to fork left with your way uphill, your direction 100°.
- Then in 130 metres, ignore a faint fork off down to the right, steeply downhill and towards a house. Keep on the main path, now along the south edge of the wood.
- In 85 metres you pass under a mini-pylon. In 650 metres, having enjoyed fine views off to the right, ignore a signposted footpath off to the right.
- In 160 metres, at a tarmac road, go left, uphill, your direction 295°. In 85 metres turn right on a bridleway, signposted Greensand Way, your direction 45°, uphill, into The Hurtwood (as marked on the OS map). Please note this path has been blocked for some time (October 2022) but an alternative route has been formed to its left - take this path.
- Keep ahead uphill, in a narrow cutting. In due course you rejoin the original path (to the right of the new path), now in a deeper cutting.
- In 200 metres, at the top of the incline, you come to a triangular grassy clearing with main tracks off to the left and ahead. Take the track ahead, slightly left , your direction 65°. In 200 metres cross over a car-wide earth track and in a further 100 metres, by a post with blue arrows, cross a car-wide earth road to keep straight on along the Greensand Way. In another 100 metres cross over another car wide earth track and keep ahead. . In 150 metres ignore a fork to the right as you enter what was a wood - now cleared.
- [!] In 180 metres, in the open, just before the track starts to descend, you come to a post with arrows, where the original TO Book had you turning right. However, the new route, is to keep ahead at this post to go down a better, wide path with a good, even gravel base, soon passing through two posts with red reflectors, your direction 55°.
- Keep on down this path, passing between posts with red reflectors where the path drops down single steps.
- In 250 metres, at the bottom of the slope, the path narrows and swings to the right. At a T-junction , by a post on your right, turn right and in 20 metres bear left on a narrow path with a fence on your left, your direction 100°
- In 150 metres turn left between gate posts onto a sandy track.
- In 125 metres the track comes out onto the B2130 road. Cross the road to come to the White Horse pub, Hascombe, the suggested lunchtime stop.
- Coming out of the pub after lunch, fork sharp right into Church Road, your direction 25°, in 75 metres coming to the entrance to the delightful St Peter's Church, Hascombe (it is open to visitors and well worth a visit).
- Continue on the road past the village pond on your right-hand side, and bear left with the road as it passes the School House on your right. Then in a further 200 metres, by a cottage , where one bridleway is straight on, you turn left on another bridleway, your direction 290°, with the course of a stream down below you on your left-hand side.
- In 75 metres fork right off the bridleway (where previously there had been a stile with a metal fieldgate on its right) into a field, your direction 305°, on a grassy path, cutting across the corner of the field. In 180 metres go through a metal kissing gate to rejoin the bridleway you had been on before. Turn right along it, your direction 345°.
- In 80 metres your path merges with an earth road by a multiple armed sign and you carry straight on through a metal field gate marked 'Forge Cottage The Stables', ignoring a bridleway off to the left. In 45 metres you pass Forge Cottage on your left-hand side. In a further 175 metres, at a T-junction with a three-armed bridleway sign on your right, fork left on a path down between fences, your direction 285°.
- In 120 metres, having negotiated this potentially muddy path, go through a metal fieldgate to cross the B2130 and continue straight on up a public bridleway (a gravel driveway signed to Elm and Leybourne Cottages), your direction 255°.
- In 55 metres you pass Elm Cottage on your left and in a further 50 metres Leybourne Cottage, to continue steeply up the bridleway, initially in a woodland cutting.
- In 160 metres ignore an opening and way off to the left. In 145 metres, at the brow of the hill, you pass High Winkworth House on the left-hand side. By a sign for the entrances to Sullingstead and Winkworth Hanger, turn left on the tarmac lane, your direction 260°.
- In 210 metres, at a road T-junction, turn right, your direction due north.
- In 400 metres you come to the B2130 where you turn right on to the road, your direction due east (be careful as there is no pavement).
- [!] In 140 metres  turn left on to a signposted public footpath, just inside Eden House's driveway and forking left off it, your direction 345°.
- In 45 metres you pass a part-timber framed house on your left-hand side, with Winkworth Arboretum soon visible beyond the fencing on your right-hand side.
- In 500 metres or so, you come to an earth road, with a car park on your left-hand side, and you turn right into Winkworth Arboretum , following a public footpath sign, through a wooden swing gate to the right of a wooden fieldgate, your direction 55°, along a car-wide earth road. In 10 metres you pass Fox cottage on your right-hand side. In 60 metres, you pass the National Trust's ticket kiosk on your left (entrance to the Arboretum for those leaving the public footpath costs £12 but free to NT Members). The Arboretum's Cafe , a possible late lunch stop or early tea stop, is on your left-hand side.
- In 30 metres cross over a main path junction, with public WCs over to your left, and keep ahead. In a further 120 metres, at a crossroads, you follow the yellow public footpath arrows going straight on down towards the Azalea Steps and lakes.
- In 75 metres, as the path swings to the right, turn left with the yellow arrow, by a wooden sign saying Fiona Adam Steps. At the bottom of the main flight of earthen steps, keep ahead by a bench seat and keep on down, now on a rough path. In 60 metres, at the bottom of the slope, turn right onto a main path, your direction 110°.
- In 130 metres, at a T-junction, follow the yellow arrow to the right, your direction 200°.
- In 35 metres, where steps go up to the right, turn left, with a log cabin then on your right-hand side, your direction due east. You pass a lake on your right-hand side.
- Out of the wood you come to a T-junction by a National Trust donation pyramid on your right and you turn left on a sandy track, your direction 100°.
- In 90 metres, with the Arboretum's former disabled car park ahead of you (disused) turn right by a yellow arrow on a post, up a gentle incline to a road which you reach in 40 metres. Here go left, your direction 345°. Shortly after you pass the disabled car park on your left, you have the option of taking the permissive path on your left, which runs parallel to the road. In winter this can be muddy. The path rejoins the road some 50 metres before you turn left up the path to Phillimore Cottage.
- If you have stayed on the road, in 300 metres, at a right-hand bend in the road, by a public footpath sign and a sign for Phillimore Cottage, turn left uphill on a tarmac lane, your direction 340° .
- Head up this lane, passing a cottage on your right. The lane becomes a path as you enter a woodland strip. Some 100 metres from the main road junction turn right through a wooden kissing gate, marked with a yellow arrow, then turn left, your direction 300°, with the field edge on your left-hand side. In 200 metres you go over a stile to enter a wood, to go straight on, in 35 metres crossing a path, your direction 310°.
- In 205 metres cross another path and in a further 350 metres, having ignored all ways off, you come out through a metal kissing gate on to a tarmac road, where you turn left , your direction due west.
- In 100 metres turn right off the road on to a track, by a public bridleway sign, your direction 330°, ignoring a gate into a field on your right .
- In 250 metres, at the end of a tall wooden fence on your left-hand side, cross a bridleway by a four-armed bridleway and footpath sign, to continue straight on between fences.
- In 265 metres cross a tarmac road to continue straight on, along a signposted bridleway .
- In 1km you pass the gates to Catteshall Farm on your left hand side, and keep ahead now on a tarmac lane. In a further 250 metres, you pass the entrance to Catteshall Manor on your left-hand side and bend right with the road. Then in 80 metres you come to a T-junction, with the timber-framed Old Cider House on your right-hand side, where you turn left, your direction 245°.
- In 65 metres you turn right into Catteshall Road, your direction 335°. Then in 80 metres you cross Warramill Road to continue ahead.
- In 50 metres, by Brock's Close, you fork left on to the main road to cross the bridge, your direction 300°. Stay on the road and, 175 metres beyond the bridge, you come to another one with Farncombe Boat House on the right-hand side.
- To visit Hector's On the Wey café, go down steps on the right on this side of the river; the café is at the far end of the boat house. Afterwards, return to the road and turn right.
- Once over the river, cross the road and turn left, going through a small metal swing gate in 5 metres, to pass Catteshall Lock on your left-hand side, continuing on the National Trust's River Wey & Godalming Navigation path, your direction 220°.
- In 900 metres you pass the partially converted Godalming United Church to come out on the A3100 where you turn left, your direction 210°, to cross the Town Bridge over the River Wey.
- At the other side of the bridge turn sharp right down some steps to get on to the riverside path, meandering with the river on your right-hand side (and Godalming library on your left).
- In 450 metres, beyond the bowling green and before the church, fork left away from the river path towards the back entrance of the churchyard of Godalming's Church of St Peter and St Paul. Go through the churchyard and exit it, in 80 metres, into Deanery Place, near the entrance to the church.
- If you wish to visit a pub, or one of the town's coffee shops or cafes for tea, turn left and go up Church Street. In 130 metres you come to the High Street and turn left; The coffee shops and Cafe Mila are along or just off the High Street. Afterwards, head back along the High Street and (by the Old Town Hall) turn right into Church Street to return to the church.
- Continue past the church entrance and across a road to pick up a signposted passageway leading to the station, still straight on.
- Once at Godalming Railway Station you need to go over the pedestrian bridge for trains to London.