Farnham Park and Old Park (3.5 miles)
A 3.5 mile walk from the Farnham Herald in West Street, up through Farnham Park and back down through Old Park. Great for half an afternoon when the sun shines, or an early evening Summer's stroll.
From: A circular walk starting and finishing at the The Herald Offices, 114-115 West Street, Farnham.
Length: 3.5 miles.
Average Walk Time: 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on how much time you spend at The Castle.
Terrain: Steady uphill on the way out, a total of 100 metres of vertical ascent. The bonus is it's downhill most of the way back!
Suitable for dogs: Yes. They should be kept on leads through Farnham Park so they don't interfere with wildlife (including deer), and should be carefully controlled when crossing the main road.
Look out for: Deer in Farnham Park. Although rare, they are not unknown, especially when trying this walk near sunset.
When the mood takes you, but for whatever reason you don't fancy or don't have time for a long ramble, then this is a superb short walk through some of Farnham's finest countryside. The contrast between the manicured splendour of the King's hunting ground in the park and the rougher farmland in Old Park is noticeable.
I started this stroll from the front of the Farnham Herald at 114-115 West Street. In truth, one can start anywhere in Farnham, but the first place I wanted to go was up Hart's Yard, to the right-hand side of their building. The first building you pass is The Herald's former printing works with its distinctive north light roof. The newspaper was printed here until 1990 and was the last major printing works in the town centre. A blacksmith’s forge, still with a chimney, now serves as a garage for vehicles.
The route kinks right and left, then passes Daniel Hall, the headquarters of the 3rd Farnham Scouts, which used to be a barn. Cross Long Garden Way and walk past the corner of The Hop Blossom, and down Long Garden Walk. Near the end of the path, take an alley on the left-hand side Ⓐ in picture 5. Note again how straight this footpath is. The Walk originally stretched in an uninterrupted line from here right through to Castle Street and was a rope walk used to produce the vast quantities of twine needed for stringing the hop fields which surrounded the town.
At the end of the alley, turn right across Upper Hart car park, aiming towards the far right corner. The car park and supermarket was the site of William Kingham & Sons large wholesale grocery warehouse.
Take another alley, uphill between two chain link and concrete post fences. (Ⓑ on picture 7).
Ignore an obvious left turn in the track and continue uphill, until you meet Castle Street. Carefully cross this busy road, and you can take a minute (if you have the time and the inclination), to visit Farnham Castle, inspect the splendid new pinnacles on the top of the Gatehouse clock and see the castle itself. The bailey was originally built in 1138 by Henri de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, grandson of William the Conqueror. Later, the Bishop's Palace was built, and it became one of the Bishops of Winchesters' palaces on the road to London. Now the buildings are used as a wedding and conference venue, but the keep is open to the public and offers a great view of the town below. When you have had your fill of history, return to Castle Hill and continue up on the footpath beside the road. At the cricket club, you can cut across the green, taking care to avoid the boarded off wicket area.
Take a slight right at the small car park on the far side of the green, and follow the track past the Golf Club Café (good for an early cup of tea), past the former toilets, until the gravel paved path meets a T-junction. Here turn left. The path now heads for just over one kilometre through some of the Park's finest scenery. Check out the former Ranger's House on the right. This has had a chequered history, from being the 17th-century home of the Ranger to the Bishop of Winchester and a guest residence when their Graces used Farnham Park as their hunting grounds. It was restored in the 19th century by Bishop North. In 1930, the Ranger's House was sold to the town of Farnham, along with much of the park. The grounds became the golf course and the house was their clubhouse. Then in the Second World War it became an army headquarters and latterly home to air-raid wardens. The walls were strenthened to be blast resistant!. After the war, it fell into disrepair and decay again and became derelict. However, in the 1950s it was bought by the Waverley UDC and saved from demolition by a campaign led by the Farnham Society and Sir John Betjeman. For a while, it was a residence for an important diplomat with infra-red security beams across the gardens and an armed guard on the gate. Now it is a humble private residence!
Through this section of the walk, keep an eye out for deer, which often can be seen in the more-wooded areas by the streams. At the top end of the park, there's a steel boom gate, where you turn left. Now follow the park's Northern edge for about 500m, until you meet a stream. The paved path turns right, but stay on a muddy track which heads straight on (Ⓒ in picture 15). On leaving the woods, the track turns a slight right, and heads up the hill towards the two largest trees in front of the houses. (Ⓓ in picture 16).
A surfaced footpath here leads to a residential road – Hampton Road, where the route turns left. When this meets Drovers Way, turn left again, finally reaching the main road of Folly Hill. Carefully cross Folly Hill and go along Upper Old Park Lane, which is diagonally to the right in a staggered junction with Drover's Way (sign-posted Private Road, but it is a Public Footpath). (See Ⓔ in picture 17). After 300m, you come to a left turn (Ⓕ in picture 18) which is actually Old Park Lane, but is not named on the ground. Follow this lane for about 1km South, until you reach the rather pretty row of cottages at a kink in the road.
Level with the last cottage is a slightly hidden footpath on the right at Ⓖ in picture 22. Turn here and follow the path between a wooden fence and a hedge. At the end, it opens out into a field, passes over a field boundary and offers a good view of the Town and St Andrews ahead (picture 24). Now descend through the student village of the University, and walk through their sculpture park. At the junction with the main road and the Lower Hart car park at Waitrose, cross diagonally and head straight on down The Hart. Continue to the main road, West Street, where a left turn brings the route back to the Herald Offices, where we started.
Please enjoy this ramble and enjoy looking through the photos below from my walk around the route.