St Martha's to Shere (8 miles)


DETAILS:

From: A circular walk from St Martha's Hill to Gomshall and Shere and back again. It heads out on the North Downs Way and returns along the valley. Start point St Martha's Hill Car Park (East), off Gomshall Lane, Postcode GU5 9BQ (200m South East).

Length: 8 miles.

Average Walk Time: Around 4 hours.

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

Suitable for dogs: Yes.

Look out for: Some great views from the North Downs and the pretty village of Shere.

Park up in the car park and head out on its right-hand side (North). The first small section of 100m can either be made trekking along the footpaths in the woods (more pleasant, but it's possible to get lost) or by going back to the road and turning left. If you take the footpath, make sure you keep the road within touching distance on your right side. If in doubt, turn towards the road. Anyway, after 100m, you come to a small lane on your left with a cottage (Keeper's Cottage). Immediately after the cottage take a small footpath on the left and again immediately turn right to parallel the road again. This time the footpath is much easier to follow and sticks very nicely to the side of the road. Follow it uphill for 250m until it finishes and disgorges you into the road. Cross straight over, through the chicane barrier and continue up the hill.


Very soon, the path levels out. That's the main climb done for the day. As you leave the woods and see the open hillside ahead of you, the North Downs Way is signed slightly left (and uphill again). You CAN go this way, but I prefer to contour along a well-defined track to the copse line straight ahead. Up to you! If you follow the NDW, the views are not so good (hidden in the tree line) and you have to walk through a car park. Stick to the open hill, I say! The path now takes you at the edge of the woods and quite quickly heads left uphill (no avoiding it this time). Soon, this brings you to Newlands Corner, where the toilets and snack bar await. However, for most people, it's too early even for a coffee break, so press on, through the car park and out along the entrance road. When you reach the main road (busy – caution) cross, turn right and walk along the verge for about 30m. A very obvious bridleway then heads off left.


The way is now well signed and basically goes straight on for decades. Ignore branch footpaths, until after nearly 2 kilometres you come to another car park (West Hangar car park) and a minor road. Cross this, and take the track the other side. 100m more and you reach a second minor road which 'λ's into you. Turn sharp right here and then almost immediately turn left. In effect, you will have made a normal, 90-degree right turn. Follow this new path for 200m to Hollister Farm, where you turn left. Now you need to look out. After 100m is a farm gate which you can go around, but then after another 100m is a path on your right, unsigned, which you must take. It's quite a wide path, hard to miss, but don't get caught in conversation or miss it you will!


This new track heads downhill quite steeply, and you follow it for 200m or so. Look out for a pillbox on your left, and almost immediately after it, take a smaller path on your left. Keep going downhill, through the pretty grounds of Netley House. At some point, you will have to cut from your track to a slightly lower one, maybe 20m below you on the right. If you get to a private house blocking the way, that's the time if you haven't done it before. After a kilometre, you will reach a busy road, the A25.


Cross carefully, and turn left for 50m, before turning right down Queen Street. The River Tillingbourne now runs along your right side. Follow Queen Street for 300m and then turn right down Gravelpits Lane. The path turns right down the side of Gravel Pits Farmhouse, then kinks right and left, as Shere Church comes into view. Take a footpath heading diagonally to the right, heading straight for the church spire and you will arrive at the Church itself.


Shere village is one of those Surrey, chocolate-box villages. Take your time and explore. It has a village shop which provides lovely coffee (and ice cream), two pubs and public toilets. What more could one want? Maybe quaint boutique shops for the ladies in the party to explore? Well, it has those too. And for the men, check the flowerpot statues on the way out. When you've finished exploring, leave the village over the bridge (mind the duck house, ducks only), and head up Lower Street. Cross the little footbridge to the side of the ford and immediately fork left. The path now follows the valley bottom, without any route problems. Cross a small minor road, and then the A282. Keep going around the side of the sand pit, and you will reach a minor road. Cross this with a wiggle left and right and before you know it, you're back at Guildford Lane with the car park diagonally ahead to your right.

I hope you enjoyed this walk, we certainly did. I want to say thanks to Janet of the Farnham Ramblers for leading us around. It was a delight.



Farnham Walker 

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