From: A circular walk from Farnham Station to the Frensham Little Pond and back.
Length: 10 miles.
Average Walk Time: Around 5 hours.
Terrain: Fairly flat as these things go with a short steep climb in the Bourne Woods, but nothing to worry about.
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Rare birds and deer in the RSPB conservation area, cheese and beer at Pierrepont.
This is a special article. If you're reading this when the paper comes out, we have a special walk for you. The Farnham Walking Festival is about to close, and this Sunday (7th June) we are having a celebratory "Community Picnic". If you live in one of Farnham's villages (Badshot Lea, The Bourne, Hale and Heath End, Rowledge, Weybourne and Wrecclesham), the Farnham Lions are leading walks from the centre of each village into the Gostrey Meadow. There, we are inviting people to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy some friendship with your fellows. Stay for the Music in the Meadow if you wish and make your own way back home when you want. Look out for other reports and posters around the area. I hope to see you there.
So, on to our walk. This route starts at Farnham Station. I have led it from Central Car Park, the Council Offices and other places, but today I'm taking you from the station. You need the South side (Alton platform side). Leave the station and immediately take the right fork, Tilford Road. Walk up the hill, staying on the station side of the road until you reach the traffic lights at Great Austins/Menin Way. I should add, if you're looking at the pictures, I've walked this route MANY times. Some of the pictures shown were taken in a dry June 2019, but others were taken in a soggy January 2020. If you're walking this any time other than immediately after a deluge, there's no mud and the river at Pierrepont isn't a giant flood; it's a pleasant meandering stream.
But we're not at Pierrepont yet. Assuming you've reached the traffic lights, turn right and walk along Great Austins for 150m. Turn left along Little Austins and walk 250m to the end. T-junction left and immediately look for a footpath on your right. The path is a little tucked away between a close-boarded fence and private house drive, but it is marked. Follow this downhill, as the path curves right and turns into a minor road. Ignore the tracks on the left until you come to a T-junction with a tiny island in the 'T'. Turn left here. Stick with the road for 100m when it crosses a bridge over a stream. Here the road turns left, but you take a footpath on the right immediately after the stream.
The footpath again turns into a road and kinks left, before crossing Lodge Hill Road. So straight across and look for a footpath on the right, which brings you out onto the Bourne Recreation Ground. There's a 'but' here. If you pass St Martin's Church and actually arrive at the green, you've gone a meter too far. A new footpath cuts back on the left-hand side sharply immediately before the green. Turn left here and walk 100m until the path opens up by some garages. Cross the garage space diagonally right and look for a new path tucked in the far-right corner.
Navigation gets easier from here. Shortly the path will λ into Dene Lane, and you bear left. Follow Dene Lane almost to the end and a path into the Bourne Woods strikes off right. The start of this path parallels Dene Lane, but it quickly turns a full right. The houses on the left here have featured before, being the back sides of the Lobswood Manor buildings, where James Barrie lived in the early 1900s when he was writing Peter Pan. Imagine the Llewelyn Davies boys in 1901 playing among the Scots Pines over a century ago. Here, pirates and Indians played, while Mary Barrie's St Bernard dog, Porthos, became everything from pirate Swarthy's companion to a wild tiger when he wore a papier mâché mask! The boys became the inspiration for the Lost Boys in the play and Peter Llewelyn Davies became Peter Pan.
Nowadays you might see dogs walking and smile at any St Bernards you see. Continue past the back of the houses and carry on. A large woodland track with a car park on the left crosses you, and you soon come to a second crossroad. Here you basically carry straight on, but the track bears slightly right at this point. You walk towards a hillside diagonally right and climb up a hill through a complicated-looking two-way gate. This is the steep hill I promised, but as I said, it is very short. After a quick puff, turn right at the top and 100m further turn left across the open ground. You are now leaving The Bourne Woods and entering the Farnham Heath Nature Reserve. 400m more and you reach the Reeds Road (with another car park). A very convenient footpath turns left just before the road and parallels it, to save walking along the road. When the path turns left, you turn right, cross the road and walk down a track towards some houses, which bears left after 100m.
Stay on this track as it becomes a footpath. Follow the path for over a kilometre until you reach Pierrepont Farm. A lot goes on here, with a dairy, a cheesemaker (currently setting up his business) and a brewery. The taproom is frequently open, but don't dally too long here as lunch beckons. Cross the farmyard and take the track out the back. The path now crosses the River Wey on a footbridge, with horses being forced to ford the stream. In the Summer, this is a normally a pleasant, gentle brook, but can become a deep torrent in the Winter!
After the bridge, carry on up a very slight rise, cross a cross-track (making a good note of it as you will return this way) and a tiny road. The track now leads to the Frensham Little Pond and the Tern Café, where you can lunch. With toilets for those needing and coffee and bacon baps, what more could you ask for?
Having supped, return to the minor road, cross straight over again and 50 m from the road turn right. The path is wide and well-defined. One kilometre farther, turn left through a kissing gate. This is the first (and only?) kissing gate on the path, so as long as you are looking for it, you can't go wrong. Travel along 'piggy path', and say hello to the porkers in the farm; through the kissing gate at the end. The path continues, but don't walk up the road where it's marked 'private road' and fork left down a good footpath instead. You meander alongside the Wey, sticking close to the river until you come out at Tilford Green.
You're on the home straight now. Cross the Tilford Green and the East Bridge (which is open to pedestrians even if it's still closed to road traffic). Take a footpath on the left immediately after the river, passing two pillboxes. The path λ into a small road and then passes Tilhill House with its barking Alsatians. Keep going, taking the right fork at the only junction on the footpath. At Sheephatch Farm and Lane (have I said before that the ending 'hatch' means gate – so it's sheep's gate and not something bizarre with sheep eggs) go straight over. The track now goes into Sheephatch copse, turns right and goes downhill. At the T-junction at the bottom, turn left. Walk through the track, used too much by scramble bikes until you reach the B3301, Waverley Lane. This is a super-busy road, so please take care as you walk along it.
Follow the B3001 for 100m, and turn right onto Camp Hill. If the B3001 was nasty, this junction is very nasty, as traffic can whizz in any direction without signalling. The cottage in front of you on the corner is Stella Cottage (already discussed), and you turn left in front of Number 2, Stella Lodge. You now walk through the Moor Park Estate, with its Mother Ludlam's Cave, Father Foote's Cave, memorial plaque to Nicola Myers, WW2 pillboxes until you get to Moor Park Lodge itself. Exit the estate through the gates (kissing gate bypass) and turn left. As the road curves round right, follow it and take the North Downs Way footpath on the right, 50m after the corner.
And that's about it. You follow the very well signed North Downs Way for the last little bit into town, where you end up coming out at Hickley's Corner, named after the old ironmonger's works and shop that used to be on the corner before the bypass went through. Turn left here, walk up Station Road and you're back where you started.
I hope you enjoyed the walk and once again, hope to see you at the Community Picnic.