North Downs Way to Dorking (14 miles)
From: A linear walk from Guildford Station to Dorking. We went to Dorking Deepdene, but as they say, 'other stations are available'!
Length: 14 miles.
Average Walk Time: Around 7 hours.
Terrain: Fairly hilly – the OS app says there is a climb of over 500 metres along the route. St Martha's and the climb to Newland's corner are the steepest!
Suitable for dogs: Yes.
Look out for: Some fantastic views over the Surrey countryside. Much of the route is in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the latter stages the view of Leith Hill is great.
Leave Guildford station and head down towards the town. Cross Walnut Tree Close (the road outside the station) using the pedestrian crossing and follow the pavement around the corner. At the bottom of the hill, cross both halves of the main road on the pedestrian crossings to the Friary Centre. Walk right around the outside of the centre, and as the centre turns left, continue straight on down North Street (pedestrianised). When North Street turns left, do not follow it up the hill, instead continue straight on along Friary Street. At the end of Friary Street, turn left and immediately right along Quarry Street. Pass St Mary's Church, and look for a left turning, which is Castle Street. That's the hard bit done. If you pass the Castle, you're on the right road. If you get lost, ask someone for the Castle!
Having passed the Castle on Castle Street, look for a right turn, (South Hill), which you take, and again almost immediately turn left up Pewley Hill. You're on the way now. Here's the first hill and the hard navigation is finished. As you climb the road, look out for the strange semaphore house on the left. This was part of the semaphore signalling system which relayed signals from Portsmouth to London. The house was built in 1822. Follow Pewley Hill all the way to Pewley Down, where you come across a trig point, one kilometre after the start of the hill way back in Guildford town. You can rest a moment and enjoy the view. Although the next section is downhill, it's a momentary respite before climbing St Martha's. It always feels wrong to me, walking downhill knowing there's a big climb ahead, but there is no way round this one.
OK, breath caught, turn slightly right from the line you were walking on (imagine a clockface and turn to the 1 o'clock), and head towards a corner of the downs. After 200m of downhill, you join a level trackway. After 300m more, you reach a diagonal crossroads of tracks, where you go straight over along a wooded path. Another 150m brings you to a 'Y' junction with the North Downs Way. You are on one of the arms of the 'Y' and you walk out along the stem (no hard navigation). You now follow the NDW for many miles. The Way is well signposted, and you should follow these posts.
Almost immediately after joining the Way, your path reaches a minor road (Halfpenny Lane), where you take a left and a right. Now, gird your loins, take a deep breath and head heavenwards. 400 m farther and you reach the summit of St Martha's Hill. Enjoy the view, the church and the chance to breathe. A water-slurp break never goes amiss here. At this point, you are walking on the Greensand Ridge, but never fear, the clay is still to come. The original church was built in the 12th century, but only fragments of that remain. The building you see now dates from the 1840s. It is said that this is the only church actually on the old Pilgrim's Way, but that is a disputable claim. OK, church done, and you're off again. Pass BEHIND the church, (the path is easier to pick up). Follow the path downhill, and after 300m look for a signed left turn. It is no problem if you miss it, as the North Downs Way and the path you're on both arrive at a minor road. If you missed the left turn, walk left along the road for 100m to pick the track back up. If you found the turn, you arrive through a tiny car park. The route on heads up the road ahead of you (a right for turn-missers or straight for correct path people). A footpath goes alongside the road at this point, or if you're careful you can walk up the road itself. 250 m more and a definite path turns right. This one do not miss! It is signed.
A very good path now climbs along the side of the hill towards Newlands Corner. When you get there, you can temporarily join the masses as they enjoy the views. There is a café there that does amazingly good chips! However, it might be a little early for lunch! CAREFULLY cross the A25. The traffic is fast and relentless here. The footpath is diagonally right on the opposite side of the main road.
Join the trackway, and you have an easy walk for a good while. After 1.5 km, you meet a minor road, where you cross (a sandwich and tea van is often here). A footpath now goes 100m and turns a hard right. Walk alongside the wood for 200m, and you get to Hollister Farm. At the farm, turn left (all signed). Back on the trackway, it's easy going for four kilometres over Netley Heath and Hackhurst Down. Cross a minor road and walk another kilometre. At this point, you leave the North Downs Way, and take the Pilgrim's Way Trackway into Dorking. The turn is fairly obvious. There is a conspicuous pillbox on your right – see photo (all the others have been on the left). At this, you take a very sharp right, back on yourself and zig zag downhill. After 500m, the track zags back left again, and now heads towards Dorking. This path now runs for 4 kilometres. However, after 1.5 kilometres you need to fork left. If you take the right fork, you head downhill to Landbarn Farm and the railway, which is the wrong way. So, take the left, and head uphill for the final time. I promise this is the last climb and it's not severe. After the full 4 km, you finally reach a minor road. Turn right, round a slight corner and take the road on the left (Ashcombe Road). Now you're into the town proper. Follow Ashcombe Road for 600m to the big dual carriageway. Turn right, and head to where the railway crosses overhead. Smile, you're there. This is Dorking Deepdene.
There is a traffic light to cross the dual carriageway and the platform for Guildford is on the far side of the track. Up the steps and wait for the train.
Thanks, so much to Michael of Hikes of Surrey, who first introduced us to this walk. It was a great ramble, and the fact I repeated it within a week says something to the quality of the route. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.