North Downs Way 1 : Farnham to Guildford
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Setting off from the hustle and bustle of the A31 and activity around Farnham Station, the sudden quietness and tranquillity which takes over immediately after passing under the railway bridge near the start of the walk is dramatic. It is also indicative of the small number of fellow walkers which one is likely to encounter along this route.
Much of this section is on sandy soil – unlike later Surrey ones which traverse the chalk. However, the chalk is never far away – the route runs along the lower levels of the Hogs Back whose chalk slopes are clearly visible in many places.
On either side of the path, significant areas are used for agriculture – both arable and livestock. In addition, there are sections of sandy heath and woodland – including nature reserves.
This route is a relatively easy introduction to the North Downs Way with no major hills to climb and several refreshment opportunities along the way. Between the outskirts of Farnham and those of Guildford, the only sizeable community to be passed through is Puttenham (with 2 pubs to choose from). Watts Gallery tearoom at Compton, with its home-made cakes and more substantial meals, is always worth stopping at whilst their gift shop is also worth a few minutes exploration.
If time permits, a minor detour up to the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel is well worthwhile with wonderful views across to the countryside beyond Guildford.
This is a reasonably long walk at about 17.5km so it is worth remembering that Guildford Town Centre with its railway and bus stations is about 1.5km further on from the final Gateway.