North Downs Way:
Guildford to Dorking

28 June 2008

In a slight gamble, Stephen decided today to test whether his foot had fully recovered from a strained ligament and go for a longish walk on the North Downs Way, but on a route which did have several "escape routes" in the form of nearby railway stations which could be used if necessary.

A mildly cunning trick was employed with a Cheap Day Return to Gomshall enabling with a single ticket the outward journey to be taken to Guildford and the return from Dorking.

A short distance from Guildford railway station, en route to the North Downs Way, and although I don't know it we've already gone wrong - we should be on the other bank, but it's a pleasant view from here.

Back on the left bank, and a quick look at Guildford's answer to the more famous White House

An unusual sculpture

A bridge with interesting overflow arches takes us across the River Wey onto the lock island

A lock on the River Wey Navigation

George on an unusual seat

Now on the North Downs Way, we continue with the extremely sandy path that we left west of Guildford. It wasn't just sandy soil but close to pure sand with a bit of grit, and very hard to walk on, hence the side path that George is lying on.

More of the sandy path

Today's walk had a lot of woodland, but quite varied in nature

We emerge from the gentle climb through woods to find ourselves on the top of St Martha's Hill with its eponymous church

The view from St Martha's stretches a long way

The church dates from the 12th century, though megalithic and neolithic artefacts dating from 1500BC have been found on the site

George waits by the signpost as we descend from St Martha's Hill

We have crossed from the greensand ridge of St Martha's Hill and returned to the North Downs proper

A feature of today's walk was lots of foxgloves in and around the woodland, these being on the edge of Clandon Downs

Here we make our way through Netley Park

A lovely carpet of flowers on Hackhurst Downs

Looking back from the edge of Dunley Wood

After crossing another minor lane, we enter White Downs

George rests above Pickett's Hole

George looks small in the woods of Great Copse

As Dorking comes into view, a group of people were trying unsuccessfully to fly a kite. They were missing the crucial ingredient - wind.

We then make our way across Steer's Field

From Steer's Field, looking south to Leith Hill - Leith Hill Tower can just be seen in the centre of the horizon.

After this there was a very small kissing gate, which some teens with rollmats slung below their rucksacks were having trouble negotiating - why are kissing gates made so small? Do they not think that a significant proportion of the people using them are wearing rucksacks? Highways departments are setting out to spend large sums on replacing stiles with kissing gates, and replacing one fence-crossing that is difficult to negotiate with another that is difficult to negotiate.

The church of St Barnabas on Ranmore Common

Denbies House among trees.

We now begin a long, gentle, winding descent from the North Downs into the valley of the River Mole

Denbies vineyard, the largest vineyard in England, with Dorking beyond

More of the vineyard, with Box Hill beyond. In the valley is the A24, which we followed into Dorking for the train back to London.

A glorious walk, with wonderful scenery, lots of varied woodland, lots of wild flowers, and great weather.

Total distance on the GPS was 23.4 km (20.4 km on the Way) with 400 m ascent, in 5 hours 11 minutes - that means that
about 78% of the North Downs Way is now walked.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson