West Byfleet Circular
(30 October) The first time that we led this walk the heavens opened straight after lunch and we were all thoroughly soaked by the end. We feared that we might be soaked in the morning this time round but, thankfully, the rain passed in time for us to do the whole of the walk in the dry.
Fifteen walkers set out along the Basingstoke Canal where we saw some very comfortable looking houseboats and then along the peaceful River Wey Navigations (opened in 1653) to Murray’s Bridge where we turned to cross the M25, through the outskirts of Byfleet, along a path across fields to meet the River Wey, then through Buxton Wood before recrossing the M25 into Wisley Common, with some lovely autumn golds in the sunlight filtering through the trees.
Next, we took the path that leads through Wisley RHS Garden, sadly with few views of the garden due to high hedges, but with glimpses of the River Wey on our right, then across fields, eventually coming to Ripley Common and village. Picnickers ate on the Common (also provided with decent public loos(!) and a fun fair that I don’t think anyone was tempted by) while some of us tried Pinnock’s Coffee House, a refreshingly independent and atmospheric coffee shop in a charming old building where we were served our lunches surprisingly quickly given how popular it was. Three people left us to take the bus to Guildford for a speedier train return to London rather than Kingston while the rest of us made our way back across the common to rejoin the Wey at Walsham Lock.
Another pleasant meander along the river, though rather boggy, across Newark Lock and a view of the ruins of Newark Priory, opened in 1189 and destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. The walk then follows the B367 along a rather narrow pavement and necessitates two rather dangerous crossings near bends given the speed that the traffic flows. Thankfully no casualties! The reward is a short visit to a rather cosy Norman church with faint wall paintings dating from the 1100s.
We then set off across more fields and Pyrford Golf Course, where you need good eyesight to spot the footpath markers and, I am told, one group member encountered an old acquaintance, to reach the Wey Navigations once more.
The final section took us back along the canal to Dodd’s Bridge where we turned along a path that lead us back into West Byfleet.
With thanks to Mary-Jane, Claude and Christine M for photos.