Hilly walk in the North Bourne (2.7 miles)


DETAILS:

From: A circular walk from Farnham Station into The Bourne and back.

Length: 2.7 miles.

Average Walk Time: An hour.

Terrain: Hilly. It's uphill, then down, then up and finally down. But the total height gain is not excessive.

Suitable for dogs: Yes.

Look out for: Some lovely walking in the trees.

On paper, it appears most of this walk is on roads. However, much of it is actually on footpaths using careful navigation. When I recced it, I found two footpaths I never knew existed, and that turned this walk into a real adventure for me. There are a lot of green parts, and even the roads that you will walk are largely leafy.


I started from Farnham Station, but as I am in the habit of saying, you can start anywhere you fancy. From the station, head south, uphill along the Tilford Road (that's the right fork at the Waverley Arms). I was forced to wonder whether building a nursery in a still-signed pub is the best idea. I guess they will change that when the building gets nearer completion. Head up the road past St Joan's Church (on the left). Founded in 1890 and opened in its present location in 1930, it was decided that the Farnham church should be dedicated to St Joan of Arc because Farnham Castle was a residence of Cardinal Henry Beaufort who was present at her trial. Guides at the Castle delight in saying the church was built in its current location because it can look straight into the Castle itself (they are at the same level) and mocks the Bishops of Farnham. Joan of Arc was canonised in 1920, and Fr Robo wanted a church dedicated to the saint in the town that was a principal residence of the Cardinal.

Trying to stay impartial in this historical feud, continue up the hill to the traffic lights at Menin Way/Great Austins where you turn right. After 100m, turn left up Little Austins. At the top, turn left and immediately on the right look for a footpath going steeply downhill at the side of 12 Greenhill Road. DO NOT TAKE THIS! Instead, turn right on a tiny footpath which parallels the road (separated only by a small hedge). This path now parallels Greenhill Road all the way. This almost-secret path avoids walking along the pavement. At the far end, the path disgorges onto Swingate Road by a sign (public footpath) and a pillar box. On the left is a crossing road, Vicarage Road, where you turn right. Another 50m and you will see Old Church Lane on your left. As a small detour, you can continue 20m more and look into The Old Bourne (St Thomas) cemetery.


This is where the first church of St Thomas-on-The Bourne stood from 1861 until 1925. Today, tucked away in the trees, it is a tranquil place for humans to get away from the stresses of the modern world and also a haven for wildlife. It looks at its best around now, when you can catch the last of the bluebells. Other than the lychgate, there are no buildings on the site, but there are over 800 graves, many with monuments. The Bourne Conservation Group manages the cemetery. If you have a moment spare, wander around and experience the tranquillity.


Come back out the lychgate and go down Old Church Lane. Near the bottom, (5 Old Church Lane), look for Vine Cottage on the left. This is the former home of George Sturt, 1863 – 1927, who lived here from the 1890s to his death. George was the author of "The Wheelwright's Shop" (1923), "Change in the Village" (1912) and "A Small Boy in the Sixties" (1927) among others. A renowned Farnhamite, George wrote under the name of George Bourne to keep his anonymity. I've written about him before and led 'author's walks'. I'll be leading another when I'm allowed to – watch this space if you're interested.


Anyway, pass Vine Cottage and continue down the hill. At the bottom, the footpath continues past a low, domed-top concrete pillar in the middle of a much smaller footpath. Look now for a small bridge with pipe handrails on the right immediately after you join the river. Turn right here over the bridge and walk parallel to the brook. Soon another wooden bridge crosses back. Follow the path now all the way to the main Frensham Road. Cross this and pick up a footpath slightly diagonally left. Within 20m, fork right up a footpath labelled "The Pieces". This pulls quite steeply uphill to Middle Bourne Lane, which it crosses by turning left and immediately right.


Keep going until you cross Avely Lane and take the footpath next to the fence, not wandering into the football-field open space to the right. Finally, cross Ridgeway Road, and you start to head downhill between garages. At Upper Way continue down a tarmacked path which eventually goes through two sets of bike chicanes. At the second set, turn right, and you will come out on Oak Court/Weydon Hill Road/Arthur Road. A straight-ahead takes you along Arthur Road. Almost back now!


Cross Firgrove Hill using the pedestrian lights and continue along Arthur Road. At the end of this, turn left, and you are back in the Tilford Road heading towards the station.


I hope you have enjoyed your walk to The Bourne. If you have longer, it is perfectly possible to explore more of the area while you are up there. No one now seems to be insisting exercise walks stay at one hour and you might wish to wander more. The Bourne is riddled with footpaths, and if you are familiar with an Ordnance Survey map, you can explore the area to your heart's content. Have fun, and stay safe.



Farnham Walker 

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