July 1st Chilworth to Guildford
Thirteen of us assembled at Guildford station on a dry and overcast morning. On a good day, there’s a train connection to Chilworth, but on this day we had to take the 32 bus. As we set off on our walk, we could see St Martha’s Church on the North Downs, which we would pass in the afternoon. Walking eastwards, and then north, through farmland and heath we reached the attractive village of Shere. The last section was via a Millennial path which passes through an avenue of majestic old trees Apart from two decent pubs, there are two cafes and an extremely popular ice cream shop in Shere. There was a wedding taking place in the parish church, St James. This is famous, not just for being in Bridget Jones Diary but also for the unsettling history of the Anchoress of 1329.
We said goodbye to Alison, but our numbers rose to 16, augmented by Samantha, Janet, Joanna and Sandra who arrived bus. Heading west by the Tilling Bourne, we stopped to admire the magnificent allotments at the end of the village. Those of us who do our best with the unyielding London clay could only look enviously at the lovely rich dark alluvial soil.
The weather picked up and we headed back towards Guildford in full sunshine, the undulating path following a line of hills. Near Albury, an optional detour to the left took some of us up to a flat area, with great views to the south. We were puzzled by the existence of a number of pipes inserted into the ground. The area used to be a sand and gravel extraction site – I can recall lorries labelled “George Sands”. Subsequent, albeit cursory, research suggests that this was later used as a landfill tip, and that the current pipework is for the extraction of methane.
We soon made the steepish climb through woods to St Martha’s where there was a wedding party. The views from here to the south were stunning and, we had a well earned rest. A final stretch took us to Pewley Downs, with further great views before descending into Guildford. On the way down, we passed Semaphore House, one of the few surviving remains of a communication chain between London and Portsmouth naval docks. This was a short lived system from about 1820 – 1840 when it was superseded by the electric telegraph. The best surviving station is at Chatley Heath, which has recently been restored by the Landmark Trust and is available for holiday lets.
A final detour took some of us through Guildford Castle. The floral displays were simply staggering, with old style municipal arrangements of bedding plants on a grand scale. I’ve added a photo taken in March to give a general idea but if anyone has a full bloom version, I’ll gladly substitute it.
Many thanks to those that came out and contributed to a very pleasant day. Apologies if it was a bit longer than some of you were anticipating.
Thanks to Sigrid, Virginia, Christine M and Christine R for the photos