Crondall Circuit (8 miles)
From: A circular walk from the Upper Hart Car Park, Farnham
Length: 8 miles.
Average Walk Time: 4 hours, depending on how long you wait for the Bride.
Terrain: Gently undulating on footpaths and small rural roads. One or two of the footpaths are a little overgrown, but still easily passable. Long trousers might be an advantage.
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Some lovely views from the footpaths and any weddings going on in Crondall.
Like many of our Farnham walks, this could be started anywhere in the town. However, the car needed parking and Upper Hart is free on a Sunday. From the parking, walk West along Long Garden Way (which becomes Falkner Road and then Beavers Road). Just before Crondall Lane, there is a footpath turns off right to Beavers Close. It doesn't much matter if you miss this, either way takes you to Crondall Lane, where you turn right. Cross the road at the pedestrian lights, and immediately on your left is Waynflete Lane. This is a private road, but a public footpath. Follow this up the hill until you cross Byworth Road after about 300m. Now the road deteriorates to a track (it was never very good anyway). Look for a small footpath on the right, indicated by Ⓐ in the photos below. The track heads steadily downhill, coming to 24 steps (yes, I have counted them as a result of trudging back home UP them many times), before crossing a small stream on a deteriorating bridge. There's a lovely rope swing here that I've always wanted to try, but I fear the rope won't take my weight. So, press on along the footpath, crossing the corner of the small field and heading uphill again.
The path crosses a small lane, through a kissing gate, past another field before reaching a second kissing gate. There is a small, steep climb through a wooded section, before coming out onto the Dippenhall Ridge. If the weather is nice, there are good views back to Farnham on the left. One can also admire the horses parked here. Some of the permanent residents seem to be large, especially shaggy donkeys, which a friend of mine in Cambodia always calls 'gangster horses'. Apparently, shagginess in S. E. Asia is a sign of a gangster. I always WhatsApp him photos of 'my friends' when I pass these equines, and he messages back a smiley face.
Pass through the gate at the end of the ridge path and turn left up Dippenhall Road. After 100m, ignore the left turn and continue up the hill. Stay on Dippenhall Road for around 2km, passing Wimble Hill, until you get to a distinct footpath on the right with a barrier gate preventing traffic. (Ⓑ on the photos below). After 400m, the road takes a sharp right, BUT the path turns off from the road here. Make sure you look for this awkward junction, which I've marked Ⓒ in the pictures.
Around 700 m more and the path turns right again. This is Ⓓ below. 200m further and there is a T-junction where you turn left. Crondall church has been in sight for some time, and now you are heading straight for it. Should you miss the Ⓓ junction, it's not the end of the world; you merely come to the village along a different path. As you approach the village, you make a half left, followed by an immediate right (Ⓔ). The right-turning path, with the dog walker, still takes you into the village, but again it's a different way.
Crondall marks the halfway point. All Saints Church and St Mary's dates from Norman times and is Grade I listed. The bell tower was built in 1659. Take an opportunity to look inside if you're interested. On the day we visited (a Sunday) the church was hosting a wedding. We watched the flowers being taken in as we munched sandwiches. As we prepared to leave, the guests were arriving. The usual gaggle of besuited and beskirted older people accompanied excited young groomsmen in navy blue morning dress (very unusual). Young ladies in floral dresses clamped down their hats in the wind while small boys nervously fingered their too-tight ties that mother must have fussed over. The highlight, as we left, was the arrival of two silken-clad bridesmaids in a vintage Rolls. One of our lady-walkers helpfully tied the unruly sash around the waist of one of the girls. Very beautiful they looked too! On enquiring how long the bride would be, we were told about 20 minutes. As much as we wanted to stop and admire her, we had a walk to complete, so we left the church, turned right onto Croft Lane, and immediately after the Primary School, right again on to Glebe Road.
After barely 100m, Glebe road turns left before joining Dippenhall Lane, where the route heads right. After about 300m, the houses peter out, and you are walking along the main road (with verge) in the countryside again. 100m more and there is an almost hidden footpath on the left, through a gap in the hedge. Look out for this as it is easy to miss (we did). I've marked this Ⓕ below. The path follows the hedge for 300m, before crossing into a field, which an indistinct path crosses diagonally right. Head directly to the right side diagonally opposite corner, where the path continues through some scrubby woodland. Pass through a gate on the track and follow a hedge (on your right-hand side) up and over the hill. 400m further and the path joins a small track, before emerging onto Dora's Green Lane, where the route turns right.
Walk uphill for 150m before entering the field on the left and heading down the hill on a new footpath. The way enters a small piece of woodland, crosses a stream and emerges at a gate to cross a field towards Lower Old Park Farm. One final gate takes you to an unnamed road, which is where we join the St Swithun's Way, turn left, back to Farnham. The route heads East, passing Middle Old Park Farm (keep straight on, ignoring the left-turning dead end), down and up through the end of Claypit Woods, past Park Farm, until one reaches the T-junction with Old Park Lane, where one turns right.
From here, it's easy. Head down Old Park Lane, until you see the cottages on the left. Immediately where they finish, there is a footpath on the right (Ⓖ). Take this path, and you end up coming out through the UCA and back to the Upper Hart Car Park. With luck and a fair wind, you will be back in time for tea! I hope you enjoyed this walk, and if you didn't see the bride, well we didn't either.