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Sandy Hill to Aldershot (4 miles)

via Caesar's Camp and the Wellington Memorial! 4 miles - DOWNHILL nearly all the way!

Linking the Sandy Hill Estate to Aldershot raises questions. However, when I mentioned to my friend with walking difficulties that the route would link Caesar's Camp and the Wellington Memorial, and more than that it would be nearly all downhill, he told me he had never been up Caesar's Camp and would love a chance to see the view from the top. He had been told by others that it was "quite a climb" to the plateau, and he didn't fancy that. I simply tapped my nose and invited him on the latest of my Saturday walks.

We met at a bus stop on Sandy Hill Road. He came from Aldershot on a number 5, whereas I came from Farnham. By luck of timing, the buses almost meet at the Blackheath Road, which is where we both alighted. Heading North, a footpath leads into a grassy area from the verge at the side of the road. We passed several benches (I told him it was far too early to take a rest) and a right-hand turn took us through a kissing gate and out onto the old army lands. Now the area up on the heathland by Bricksbury Hill is quite complicated, and I'm not going to attempt to 'walk you through' the lefts and rights. The only way to navigate this is with a map and compass (or an app). Having said that, we passed a quarry and then after about 200m more, we passed through the double defence ramparts of the former Iron Age fort.

The structure must have been something in its day. Assuming the number 5 bus didn't run in the late Bronze Age, anyone trying to attack the hill would have the long slog up from the River Wey, or they could attack the 'cliffs' from the North. We did neither, taking the short track along the edge of the escarpment. We were rewarded with a fine view of the airport at Farnborough and a good look down into Aldershot. On clearer days, I have seen Canary Wharf from the top, and even the Wembley Arch, but today was not one of those clearer days. There are a pair of benches at the best viewpoint, between a small stand of trees, but as well as overcast conditions, it was also very windy. We did not stay long on the top.

Coming down is easier than going up, unless you suffer from arthritic knees. My friend struggled down the hill, but we took it slowly and he made it eventually. The view improved as we paralleled the Royal Pavilion, before eventually arriving at the main Bourley Road. Little remains of the pavilion itself, as the park is now occupied by DXC Technology and only the former guardroom (tiny) remains of the old Royal residence.

Unfortunately, the track arrives at a nasty part of the Bourley Road, and traffic speeds along this stretch. Cross the road with care and turn right towards Aldershot. Almost immediately a small road (signed to the Wellington Memorial) leads off left, which we followed. 200m along this road, another smaller road turns off right. We cut the corner across a grassy field with a warning not to play golf (which we had no intention of doing). As we left the field, we continued straight up a small bank to the imposing statue of Wellington on his horse called Copenhagen (useful answer to pub quiz questions).

The statue started life on top of the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner. However, Queen Victoria hated it as it overshadowed her view from Buckingham Palace. Allowing a sufficient time after the Duke of Wellington died in 1852, both the arch and the statue were moved – the arch went outside Apsley House and Victoria's hated statue was shipped off to Aldershot, where, according to the then Prince of Wales, "where it will be highly regarded by the Army."

Notwithstanding the small history lesson, we circumnavigated the edifice and walked down into the grassy playing field to a picnic table where we had lunch. After a snack, we crossed the road and visited the Royal Garrison Church (closed for a wedding). All that remained was for us to take a pleasant wander through the shopping streets of Aldershot back to the bus station and train station respectively.

The walk is an interesting one and is by far the least strenuous way of seeing the view from Caesar's Camp. If you have a long hour (or a short afternoon), you might well consider it. But please heed the note about taking map and compass or a navigational app for the top parts!


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