Haslemere and the 'Priest's Path'
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This is a very scenic circular walk from Haslemere train station – 50 mins from London Waterloo. It includes some of the finest views and breath-taking countryside in the southeast and passes through pretty woods and fields between Hindhead and Black Down. The walk is also steeped in history and follows in part the ancient ‘Priest’s Path’.
Haslemere is an historic and charming market town located in the very south of Surrey and is named from the hazel trees around a lake (long since drained). In Tudor and Stuart times it was a centre for the iron industry. Our walk takes us through the little village of Grayswood and on to Prestwick and Chiddingfold - a stunning village steeped in history with timber framed houses and quaint cottages. It was formerly the centre of glass making and its glass was used in St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster and St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
We shall pass by the Crown Inn which was allegedly established in 1285 and built as a Rest House for Cistercian monks during their pilgrimage from Winchester to the shrine of Thomas Beckett in Canterbury. Visitors have included Edward VI in 1552 and Queen Elizabeth I in 1591. More recently in the 1980s, the rock band Genesis purchased a farm in the village and turned one of the buildings into a recording studio. Our route back passes through the National Trust’s hidden gem of Swan Barn Farm before returning to Haslemere’s bustling high street.
The walk can get really muddy and there are several stiles so appropriate footwear is a must. There is also grazing livestock in parts so please take particular care if you bring a dog.
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All images were taken by the walk leader.
What to bring
Hand sanitiser and a face covering: whilst we are living with Covid-19, please bring your own to events to help keep everyone safe
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
Bring a picnic lunch and plenty of water.