A walk from Lushott around the Golden Valley and the Devil's Punchbowl
From: A circular walk from the Ludshott Common Car Park. The nearest postcode is GU26 6JG.
Length: 10 miles.
Average Walk Time: Around 6+ hours.
Terrain: Hilly, hilly and hillier. Especially after lunch. This walk includes (according to the OS map of the route) a breath-taking 2461 feet of ascent!
Suitable for dogs: Yes, as long as they are fit.
Look out for: Amazing views. The Devil's Punchbowl is always beautiful, but Golden Valley and some of the afternoon valleys are stunning.
Ludshott Common can be confusing. Please try to stay with me! Head away from the road to the back of the car park and walk for 50m to a T-junction with a major track. Turn left here. After 200m, the track splits, and you take the right fork up the hill, as opposed to the right path which goes downhill. Now measure out carefully 500m (or walk for around 7 minutes) until a smaller path turns off left. According to the map, this path goes straight for 250m until it T-junctions. However, when we walked the route, after about 200m it turns a distinct right, then left again. Either way, when you T-junction, turn left.
Seventy-five metres more and there's a fork where you split right into the trees. That's the hard navigation done for now. Cross some more-open ground and when you reach the forest edge again, head down the steps into the valley of Waggoner's Wells. Don't cross the small footbridges, and you will come to the Wishing Well (attributed to Tennyson). Maybe make a wish for strong legs on the hills ahead and press on. Again, resist the temptation to cross bridges and continue along the left side of the small lakes. This might be a good place for coffee, being about an hour into the walk.
When you get to the small road, turn right. Be careful at the ford. When we were there, several motor cross motorbikes splashed their way through the ford, very picturesque, very noisy and very wet if you happen to cross at that exact moment. Immediately after the bridge, take the small path on the left. This is BEFORE the track for the bikes and is clearly only a footpath. It parallels the valley bottom and the stream that the ford crossed. It is not the path heading away from the bridge. Wander along the valley, climbing and falling gently, until you reach a gravelled track. Follow this and keep going. Ignore the first 'road' on the left and take the second, which is called Stoney Bottom.
Turn left here and walk up to the main road. Stoney Bottom turns 180 degrees, before offering you a road on the left which takes you up the hill again (Hill Road). Pass the Social Club, and you come to the main B3002, which you immediately cross. Turn right along this, making sure you're on the main road and not sucked down Crossways Road, past the Bayleaf Pub.
You're now looking for Avenue Road (on your left) with the Co-op on the corner. Turn down this, and continue past the right-hand kink. At the end of The Avenue, you enter the Golden Valley. Immediately entering the woodland, take the path on the left, signed "Golden Valley". Do not carry straight on and do not turn back on yourself. This path is a definite 90 degree left turn from the end of Avenue Road. The path now wiggles around a little, but the Golden Valley disc signs guide you through. The valley continues for a little over a kilometre and eventually comes to the A287. Cross carefully here and turn left on the other side of the road (better verge). Walk for 100m, and there is a College road on the right. Ignore this, but take the minor road immediately after this with the bridleway sign and the plethora of signs to various houses and cottages.
After 100m, the road kinks left, and after another 100m, look for a footpath on the right which leads back quite sharply. This path follows the fence line at the back of properties. If you get into the open heathland, you've gone too far. Now follow the edge of the Devil's Punchbowl to the NT café, where you can admire the view, stop for lunch, and perhaps most importantly, visit the toilets.
Emptied, refilled and ready, retrace your steps along the path you came along. When you reach the road where you made the sharp right turn, continue straight instead. 50m past the junction, a footpath strikes off left. It is signed. Follow the valley bottom until the main track crosses you after 800m. Deep breath, the path goes uphill, and it is steep. There is a brief respite, but don't get conned into thinking this is the top, there's more to go. However, when you do summit the valley, the views back down and along are spectacular. Take a short break, regain your breath, there are more climbs to come, but that probably was the worst and the steepest.
The path continues and takes you past the side of a playing field. At the end of the playing field, there's a left turn, and now the small road takes you past the PGL camp. At the end of this small road, turn right into Cricket Close, and you will arrive at the Tilford Road. Turn right here and follow the Tilford Road for 250m to Clovelly Road, which is on the left as you are walking. Down Clovelly Road for 300m and turn half-right into Linkside South. Another 100m and turn right again into Linkside East.
At the end of Linkside East, enter the woods and immediately turn left, along the boundary of the estate. 150m and the estate peters out, turn right on a small footpath into the woods. Another 100m and a larger track crosses you where you turn left. Now follow this path, which goes steeply downhill at first, across the golf club fairway and walk up the bank opposite to a teeing off point. When you reach the road through the golf course, immediately look for another wide footpath which is effectively straight on, but forks right off the golf club road.
Follow this to the A287 (narrow path through vegetation to exit the path), which you cross again carefully and go down a track immediately opposite. The path is signed and goes between the last two houses in this stretch of the road. After 75m, the path turns right and contours, as opposed to diving down into the valley bottom. Contour for 150m and pass through a kissing gate. Now turn left and go down the side of the hill. Cross straight over a small road, walk across the bottom of the valley until you reach a second small road (Whitmore Vale). Turn left here. Another 150m and a footpath (signed) turns off right into a pine forest. Yes, it is uphill again.
After 150m, you reach a new track where you turn right. This soon reaches a small road and a left. 100m, and you reach the main road – turn right. Recognise this? I hope so as this is the road with your car park. Walk for a little over 200 metres, and you're back. Now you can collapse!
Thanks to Ann and Andy from the Farnham Ramblers for leading 15 of us round this stunning walk. The emergency oxygen they brought with them was, in the end, not needed!