Historical journey through the Surrey Hills

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Lowland and Hill Walks
Oct 31

14 people attending

6 places left

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12 miles with some steep climbs

A vigorous circular walk with huge variety amongst Surrey’s woodlands, heath, hills and waterways.

The Surrey Hills isn’t the first place you might associate with heavy industry but hidden in the woods near the village of Chilworth (near Guildford) are the fascinating ruins of the gunpowder mill built over 300 years ago by the East India Company. The mill once thrived, employed 400 people, and was the sole legal producer of gunpowder in England to the monarchy. From there, we pass another piece of the industrial history of the area – the site of a former paper mill which among other things, made counterfeit French bank notes to undermine Napolean’s empire!

A fairly steep climb brings us to St Martha’s on the Hill – a picturesque church accessible only by foot, built in 1850 on the site of a Saxon church, and the only church in Surrey to be on the Pilgrim’s Way.  On a clear day it is said you can see eight counties. The site apparently contains several Megalithic and Neolithic artefacts, dating from as far back as 3500 BCE.

We pass through the Chantries – a lovely expanse of woodland with a mix of scots pines, larch, and various cedars. At one point we shall catch a glimpse of Guildford Cathedral in the distance before arriving at Shalford Mill. The mill sits on the Tillingbourne stream and was donated to the National Trust by the Ferguson Gang who reputably used it as their headquarters from 1932. The Gang were a group of well-educated, eccentric young women dedicated to preserving England’s heritage. 

From Shalford we follow the Wey Canal and Downs Link Path to Blackheath. Blackheath is an ancient area of heathland, home to rare species of nesting birds, butterflies, beetles, adders and some lizards. Parts are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest. From there we make our way back to the starting point.


COVID-19 - IMPORTANT: Please read the following before you sign up to this event:

  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are extremely mild, or who lives or is in a support bubble with someone showing symptoms, is asked not to attend. This is in line with the government’s coronavirus advice.
  • You must also immediately self-isolate and not attend the event if you or someone in your household or support bubble shows coronavirus symptoms or tests positive. You can find the NHS self-isolation guidance here.
  • The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste and/or smell.
  • You may be subject to local lockdown restrictions, which you must fully comply with. Details of the location of these restrictions can be found here for England, ScotlandWales, and Northern Ireland.   
  • We do not encourage car sharing to events during the pandemic. Please comply with the safety travel guidance for EnglandWales, and Scotland. Face coverings should be worn on public transport.
  • OutdoorLads will support the tracing systems in place across the UK  and attendance at an OutdoorLads event is considered permission to use contact details for this purpose if requested by the appropriate authority.  
  • All are required to practice social distancing – staying 2m (not 1m) apart at all times, including the lunch stop. Remember: Face, Hands, Space.
  • Unfortunately, there won’t be any planned pub / café stops en route or at the end, and please don’t share sweets or snacks with others – we’re sorry!
  • Please bring your own hand sanitising gel for your own use throughout the day. Use of face coverings is at your own choice, but please bring one with you just in case it's needed. Please bring any other PPE items required. Bring a disposable bag for any used PPE.
  • Members are advised to bring their own small first aid kit for personal use..
  • Be aware that opportunities for toilet stops may be minimal if facilities are closed.
  • Please, please cancel at your earliest opportunity if you are unable to attend or are unwell, so that we can allow others to take up these valuable event spaces.
  • Much as it's difficult - no handshakes or hugs!

COVID-19: Participation Statement

OutdoorLads draws your attention to the fact that travelling and being away from home increases the risk of receiving and transmitting Coronavirus, whilst it is present in the UK. You are likely to choose not to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst there is a risk of Coronavirus transmission. However, should you choose to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst the risk is present, you must be aware of and follow the law and government guidelines, both when travelling to and from events as well as when participating in events.

Please note that every person participating should be aware of (and accept) that those members perceived as ‘in charge’ or leading the event are not experts,  do not need to be experts, and are not regarded by OutdoorLads, or themselves as experts, but are amateurs with some experience in the event type and who are happy to impart their knowledge.  Any advice given should be considered with this in mind by the recipient.

By signing up to and attending an OutdoorLads event, you are confirming that you have read, understood and accept the content of this statement.

Please see our website for more information including an FAQ about our events.

All images were taken by the leader.