My husband Marc and I decided to celebrate the start 2017 by starting a new long distance walk. We chose the North Downs Way from Farnham to Dover as it is pretty easy to get to from London BUT far enough away to escape the pollution of the city. I bought the official national trail guide by Colin Saunders as it contains maps and information about the entire route. This was far cheaper than buying several ordinance survey maps for each section…
We began on a frosty morning in January by taking the train to Farnham. It was a gorgeous day, but a bit chilly. The walk starts next to the A31, which was very busy and pretty stinky when we wandered past. In any case it is only a few steps before you turn off into the countryside walking past a farm and along the river Wey.
One of the first things you see near Farnham is the North Downs Way seat (there is one here, and another at the end of the walk in Dover.) The back of the seat shows a bee orchid, and along the edge it says that we have 153 mile to Dover…so we better get going!
Most of this section of the walk passes through different kinds of forest or woods. It is incredibly relaxing and pretty, even in the middle of winter.
Next, you’ll wander past a golf club. On our trip there were quite a few men up on the green even though it was a weekday! This is followed by pretty farmland. Our map said this is all Binton Farm.
Next we made it to the fairy tree in the woods at the edge of the Hampton Estate. Someone has even added a fairy to the tree along with an assortment of other knick-knacks.
Presently we made it up to see the beautiful views of the hogs back.
The views were lovely, although the traffic from the A31 was a little noisy, like a low-level “rawr” in the background. It just kept droning on as we enjoyed the views. We didn’t see many benches on this walk, so we made use of some posts to sit down and munch our sandwiches.
Next we reached the village of Puttenhan with it’s pretty church.
After walking through the village you’ll have to walk down a busy stretch of road outside Puttenham (B3000). However once you’re back on the path, there is an easy stretch to wander along, with ever-changing woodlands and farmland. It is all lovely, especially on such a cold day when you could see the ombre-frosted fields through the trees. This whole section slopes upwards gently, so by the end of the sandy trail, you get to look down to Guildford and the surrounding countryside.
The last section is an easy walk down towards Guildford arriving back by the river Wey. We arrived just as the sun began to set, so Guildford looked golden and beautiful. The final walk along the river was incredibly muddy, so if you plan to use this route in winter, be prepared to muddy your boots!
Lastly, when you finish walk, it is very easy to jump onto a speedy train back to London from Guildford.
You can read about the other sections of the North Downs Way here.