Can't see the wood

Distance16.9K  OS Explorer145

Squashed loop walk taking in Chilworth & Blackheath 'Forest'. Then gorgeous section across Postford Farm horse fields, with views across Tilling Bourne valley. Finally joining Downs Link then North Downs Way for ascent of St Martha's Hill and onto Pewley Downs. Walk marred only by track overload across Blackheath and a 'lost path' that keeps haunting me.

Start at Guildford Railway Station or Guildford's main pedestrian bridge and follow River Wey towpath via Millmead Lock system and picnic area to crossing over river at Guildford Rowing Club. Take bike track onto Shalford Park then briefly join North Downs Way, which you leave almost immediately, off down Clifford Manor Road until reaching start of fields.

Onto open fields with view up left to The Chantries and wide views South. Bit up and down after Manor Farm with sunken lanes and usual mud, at times. Try and spot Spring marked on your OS Map (footpath has been moved to the left of it). Leave fields onto quiet road, although is on hairpin bend, but leave straight away down slightly restrictive lane.

Lane ends down broken steps (careful if icy) and onto small road, no pavement but OK to walk. Cross Tilling Bourne then pass entrance to Chilworth Gun Mills walk on left. Meet main road onto pavement right, over Railway crossing then at end of next right bend cross road for signposted Birdleway. Pass small play area on right then do left at path junction.

Can take bridleway off right at Tangley Mere (and meet Down Link further west) or take this short cut. If summer may have to cut down nettles or, if wet weather, deal with heavy mud in fairly tight & deep gully. Also, a bit of a climb which, as entering wooded area, has limited views. At top follow Downs Link left until past house to find small bridleway off main track.

After short heathland cross small road and take established path through light woods to disused pub carpark. Cross road to small unmarked alley way between houses taking you onto Cricket Green. Couple of benches here. Then onto Blackheath. Try not to feel too inadequate as you consult OS map whilst local dog walkers & families look on in sympathy. Its track overload!

Bridleway has lots of horse friendly sand but the trees are far enough apart to walk among them. This section also has a few views through trees toward south west. After navigating quite straight across various criss crossing pathways come to this fork. Right is bridleway into shallow, bit muddy, gully or can go left/straight on and meet up with The Foxway.

If following bridleway, do a sharp left when you meet the start of the small road, going back up to what looks like the start of a driveway. After the straight approach find stile to right of house with 'The Foxway' footpath signage. This leads you into much more nicer, but too short, semi-secluded section through ferns. Some bits you even have to bend your back.

Footpath brings you out to paths crossroads. Do sharp left, leaving The Foxway and going uphill slightly, can walk up around the deep cut gullys - no mud! Once when walking this route in opposite direction saw horse & rider galloping down into this section (but then it is a bridleway) - don't know if they take the gully route or the high ridge.

Come out at large open clearing of tree armageddon, and back onto wide sandy tracks. Will also see dog walkers again. Take track over Blackheath's 2 main thoroughfares then follow it as it bends left. Now for a bit of intuition and luck - choosing at which path to break off main track to hopefully meet forest exist point through non-coniferous wood.

Makes a nicer entrance (if doing route clockwise) than one at Cricket Green - its much quieter. I've tried a few times to follow the OS marked footpath (taking left fork) but then track overload confuses me & have never been able to find the 2nd footpath marked, which takes you to one of the main bridleways. One day I will re-established the lost path of Blackheath.

Leave forest down footpath between two fields to farmhouse then turn left across its farmyard and driveway to gate and start of really nice open section. Farm must specialise in horses as footpath dissects large fields each with only horses in. Great views North and North east across Tilling Bourne Valley and up to North Downs. Slight rise up to exist next to small woods.

After leaving field dissection section enter and cross open field - sometimes with horses in. Look up as you cross field and you can see St Martha's Church perched atop its hill - a glorious view if only because the church is the only building you can see. The footprints of many a walker have left a guide to see you across field to exist over very photogenic stile.

Another glorious view from the stile - but a more closer one with two trees framing your route and homestead to the right. After homestead you join the Downs Link on to road track over railway bridge then across fast but light trafficked road to another equestrian centre (they do like their horse around here). More views of St Marthas as you come closer to its ascent.

Lovely ascent this. Allows multiple viewpoints as you rise then go right then rise again, plenty of opportunities to catch your breath and each stopping point gives slightly more complex views. I think the photo shows the views from the second up bit, looking eastward. Path is made up of what looks like old farm stone debris so can be a bit loose under foot.

As you get closer to top you enter woods which end the views, then its just you and your thighs left for a little workout. You join the North Downs Way as climb evens out a bit. Then just turn left and continue climb. Woods start to thin out and views open up on the Downs stretching back eastward. Path gets very sandy as you reach summit and St Martha's Church.

Benches around church to take in view. Can get a bit busy with family carpark at bottom of hill. Follow N.D.W down until coming to small road, just past house on your left. Take road left, no pavement and on tight bend, but leave right before road bends left. Continue on N.D.W until next signage post, then leave on another bridleway till you get to lovely display board.

Modern display boards could take a lesson from that board - leave off the map! Someones personal expression is good enough. After board is avenue boarded by hedgerow, but still with views up either side. Ascent of Pewley Down is quite shallow, steeper gradients are available if you still have energy to expel. More great views across to The Chantries & to West.

Leave Pewley Down at top most exist. On to pavement for steep descent back into Guildford. Can take in Castle grounds before Town centre, which has lots of shops, pubs & eateries. Even with the path overload & lack of solitude, Blackheath still offers some charm - it even has a war memorial which we might check out sometime. Click for more Guildford Walks

They keep burning it.
Real start of walk.
Slight hemmed in section - watch out for broken steps at end.
Photo taken late winter - hence no nettles, but mud later!
Come off main track onto heathland.
Where are all the dogs?
Can go straight on - but why make life easy?
Careful nothing important gets knocked off your rucksack.
Listen out for galloping horse hooves.
Back onto sandy track.
Its a better view entering woods, then existing.
Start of 'Great view!' section.
Spot the church.
Start of climb up - doesn't look much does it?
Only half way up, and you're already getting views.
Views 180ΒΊ from South-East to South-West
Hand painted?
Might need to book seating in advance.
Must be old - no Red Kites.