Bishop's Meadows (1 to 2.5 miles)
Recently, we were asked to offer a walk that was suitable for mobility scooters or wheelchairs. The result we have come up with offers a variety of difficulties depending on the mode of transport. At it's shortest and most convenient, it is an easy push on surfaced paths of around a mile. At it's longest, it crosses some grassy footpaths. All the routes offer a nice trip around the Surrey countryside to the East of the town on the Bishop's Meadow.
From: A circular walk from different starting points in Farnham, depending how long you want it to be. The route as described starts in the Riverside 2 Car Park off Mike Hawthorn Drive.
Length: 2.5 miles down to 1.0 miles.
Terrain: Pretty much level and can be tarmac path all the way. If the longest walk is chosen, some of this is on grassy footpaths and stony tracks. However, none of the options are difficult and all have been traversed by a friend in an electric mobility scooter.
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Some wonderful views of St Andrew's Church near the end, and the lovely rural area of the Bishop's Meadow.
I'll base this route on the longest and least-easy of the routes, but please read the route notes about easier options. Start in the Riverside 2 Car Park, Farnham, which is just off Mike Hawthorn Drive. Head away from the road and towards the river and Hatch Mill Nursing Home. When you reach the river itself, turn right to the town. This path will take you past a residential area, until you reach the bridge over the River Wey. Here turn left (marked Ⓐ on the photos below). Now follow the Borelli Walk. Opened in 1964, this walk has had a chequered history. After the floods of 1968, the river was widened here and a lovely line of poplar trees was cut down to enable the bank to be stepped. Then in 2018, the walk was closed for 6 months, while the bridge into the Brightwell's site was erected. Now open again, take this walk to its end on South Street.
A little 'wiggle' will allow you to cross South Street by ramps in the kerb, and enter into the Gostrey Meadow. Follow round the War Memorial and cross the Wey a second time. Aim across the meadow for the gap in the far wall marked Ⓑ. This exit does not have steps and allows you access to the pavement. Turn left, and go down to just before the bridge at Longbridge, where a drop kerb allows you to cross the road. Walk parallel to The Maltings and cross the footbridge in front of the building. Now take a diagonal path through the Maltings car park to the far-right hand corner. As an alternative, you can park in the Maltings Car Park and start the walk from there. This offers a shorter route. Leave the car park and continue along Red Lion Lane.
Follow the lane to the end, and when it meets the main A31, turn down a small footpath Ⓒ to the right. Follow the footpath until a cluster of buildings and a path on the right-hand side Ⓓ. At the end of this narrow path, cross the bridge and enter the Water Meadow, known as the Bishop's Meadow.
According to the town's website, "The Bishop’s Meadows are one of the few remaining water meadows in this part of Britain and have been in existence since at least AD 687. Set in the heart of Farnham and bordered by the clear, chalk fed waters of the River Wey, their 35 acres of hay and flower meadowland are a haven for wildlife and an important part of Farnham’s agricultural heritage. They are classified as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and home to a wide range of wildlife including egrets, kingfishers, bats, grass snakes, voles and the occasional deer. Like Farnham Park and Farnham Castle, the Meadows were once the property of the Bishops of Winchester. Now they are owned by the Bishop’s Meadows Trust which manages the land for the benefit of the people of Farnham as a pleasant place to play, picnic, stroll, walk the dogs or just sit."
You now have a choice of three routes (see photos). Route 1 to the left is the longest of the paths and includes two kissing gates and some grassy paths. Route 2 (more or less straight on) is a gravelled path. Route three (slightly to the right) is a tarmacked path offering the shortest and easiest route. I'll assume you're going for route 1 to the left. Basically, follow round the grassy path. When you get to the end of the field, there is a kissing gate into the next meadow. We have checked this, and it should be large enough to accommodate most wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Should yours not fit, then simply carry round the outside of the field boundary. The paths link up as you start to return to the Church.
There are normally some cows in this furthest field, but they are very tame and will cause no problems at all. Return through the second kissing gate and back along the path at the edge of the Water Meadows. Routes 2 and then 3 will rejoin you from the right-hand side.
Finally, St Andrew's Church comes into view. At the end of the meadow, a zig zag path takes you up to the churchyard itself. Take the path to the left of the church, and then out into Middle Church Lane. Turn right here and go along the lane to the bottom corner, where you join Lower Church Lane by turning left. At the end of the Lane is the entrance to the Waggon Yard Car Park. If you parked in the Maltings Car Park, go through this to the far-left corner, and you will come out by the footbridge across to this car park. If you parked in Riverside 2, then follow Union Road, past Gostrey Meadow to South Street. Cross South Street and make your way back to this car park.
The full circuit, 2.5 miles, might be a little challenging for some, but the shorter circuits, especially parking in the Maltings and taking route 3 should be accessible to everyone.
I hope you enjoy this short trip into the glorious Farnham countryside.