High Mill Circuit (3 miles)


DETAILS:


From: A circular walk from Farnham to High Mill and back along the ancient Snayles Lynch. The route as depicted starts on South Street at the start of the Borelli Walk.

Length: 2.5 miles.

Average Walk Time: Around 1.5 hours.

Terrain: By and large, gently undulating. This route avoids all the hills.

Suitable for dogs: Yes.

Look out for: Interesting wildlife in the country sections and ghost trains.

A special walk for you today. This weekend, the Farnham Walking Festival opens for 2020. With 70 walks for all, whether you are a loving grannie with grandkids in tow or an ardent rambler looking for a challenge, we have events for you. The event runs from 16 May to 7 June and includes over 70 walks for people of all ages and all abilities. This weekend features our very first Shakespeare Sonnet Walks, a literary treasure trail around the town with the chance to find some hidden Farnham. The Festival will close with a community picnic with walks in to the Gostrey Meadow from our villages. In between, we will walk in the steps of the pilgrims all the way to Winchester, see bats, plaques and trees. We look at moths, foraging and farms. Ghosts feature alongside pubs and a brewery tour. From Neolithic Farnham to the present day, a world of history is represented. Join us for a walk of exploration.


All 70 plus walks are listed in our programme, which is now available. Pick up your copy today from the Herald Offices, the Town Council or other outlets around the town. The details are all online, with booking information on www.FarhamWalkingFestival.org. You can also email info@farnhamwalkingfestival.org with any questions.


Convinced to have a look? Good. Now we can go walking. The circuit to High Mill and back is one of my personal favourites. I love to take visitors to the town on it, as it has a little of everything, nice countryside, industrial Farnham and a lot of history. I've chosen today to start from the junction of South Street and the Borelli Walk. Charles Borelli (1873 - 1950), was a wealthy local businessman. An early conservationist, he made it his life's work to preserve what he identified as the character of the town. Borelli was Chairman of the Farnham Urban District Council and one of the founders of the Farnham Society. His father came from Italy in 1860 and passed his jeweller's business to his sons. Charles was a much-respected business owner and son of the town. When in 1964, the walk was named after him, it felt rather appropriate.


Originally, the walk had a row of trees along the riverbank. However, after the floods of 1968, the river needed widening, and the trees had to go. In 2019, the access bridge to the Brightwells Yard was constructed, once again changing the walk's character. Walk along the path and under the tunnel and take a footbridge across the River Wey. Immediately after the bridge, turn sharp right by the side of the river.


Shortly you arrive at the Riverside 2 car park and another bridge across the river to Hatch Mill. We recently wrote about this and the Bourne Mill. Both have their origins with the monks of Waverley Abbey and were corn mills in their time. I won't say any more about their history, as it has been recently covered. Follow the Wey, past the tennis courts and when the path veers away from the river, look for the Victorian Building on the right. This is the former Waverley Training Centre (now moved to the Memorial Hall), and before that was the home of the Farnham miniature railway, and before that the Sewage Pumping Station. Not many people know that the Moor Park Venture Scouts managed the 'Wey Valley Light Railway' based in this building in 1971. In a planning and communication mix-up, the ground was sold and the Council ripped up the track without the Scouts knowing. However, the rails were salvaged and moved to the Rural Life Centre where they became the core track for the 'Old Kiln Railway'. The locomotive was sold on.


The Wey Valley Light Railway had originally used 2' narrow gauge equipment from local industrial lines. The little-known and private 150-yard track featured a locomotive manufactured by Ruston. The smallest type of Ruston ever produced, the 2-foot gauge 4-wheel diesel-mechanical 11/13hp Ruston & Hornsby '5' had been delivered new to the Gillingham Brick & Tile Company Ltd in Dorset in March 1938.


Enough anorak? Time to leave the dreams of trains aside and turn right down the far side of the former sewage station. Walk through the Guildford Trading estate, past Halfords and up onto the Guildford Road. Turn right and walk to the Shepherd and Flock Roundabout. Note the Bourne Mill on the opposite side of the road (mentioned already) and dive under the pedestrian underpass to the pub. The Shepherd and Flock Roundabout is the largest inhabited roundabout in England! You now take the track to the right of the pub and walk down past the ancient cottages. Pause just before you go under the busy A31 overpass to look at Moor Park Lodge. The site of the 'Battle of Moor Park' this has been extensively covered before too! Sorry if you're a new reader.


Pass under the mainline railway and check out the Rock Mill Waterfall immediately after on the left. Now dry, it is being renovated and might one day run with water again. This was a popular sight in Victorian times when locals would have walked from Farnham to Waverley Abbey to spend their Sundays. (Hence the Battle of Moor Park). After the waterfall, take the first track on the right to High Mill. The owners do not encourage passers-by, but the path is on a public footpath, so please be respectful and don't disturb folks. High Mill is generally considered to be the last of the Farnham Mills and still has its workings and wheel inside. Like the others, it was a corn mill in its time. It remained a working mill until 1950 and still retains some of the pit machinery and an undershot waterwheel. Records for mills on this site go back to one in 1288 that records a corn miller who was evicted and fined for what was then the considerable sum of 20 shillings in the process. Fulling was undertaken here in 1692, and the mill was in decline by 1900 when the miller had fallen back on milling provender food for horses. Just out of interest, the name 'High' has nothing to do with elevation. It comes from the Saxon word Heche or Hege, referring to a hedge weir for trapping fish in an eddy on the river.


Carry on, out the back gates of the mill, and you soon arrive at a small footbridge where you cross the Wey again. The countryside here is glorious, and there is plenty of wildlife around. Feel free to dawdle and enjoy the scenery. Soon, on the left, the North Downs Way joins our footpath. 100m or so farther and the NDW (and you) turn right on a well-signed track. This path turns right under the railway line again; then you come to the old kilns on the right. The path turns left here, before arriving at Snayleslynch farm. Snayles Lynch is an ancient Saxon settlement. Mister Snell established a farm on the Lynch (Saxon word for ridge or hillside) here around 500AD, arguably before Farnham itself was established. The current building (farm) is relatively modern, dating from the 15th century.


Almost home. Carry on down the track, past the back of the petrol station, and you will arrive at Hickley's Corner on the A31. Turn right at the lights, crossing the bypass and you are back at South Street where you started. I hope you enjoyed this sojourn through some of Farnham and its countryside, and please feel free to dream of trains.



Farnham Walker 

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