A Sunday Saunter through the Surrey Suburbs
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Discover a Victorian riot over rights of way, abandoned WWII defences for an invasion that never came, a magnificent ruined abbey, a classic English village, a micro-brewery & taproom, and a vast outdoor film set on this tour of the suburbs and outskirts of Farnham.
Farnham: Nestled in the Surrey Hills, Farnham is a quintessentially English market town situated on the north branch of the River Wey, with Georgian streets and other historic buildings. It is dominated to the north by its castle, originally built in the early 12th century, but with later additions. The area has long been associated with the creative arts, and the town has the campus of the University of the Creative Arts.
Moor Park House: Originally built in 1630, but with later substantial alterations, Moor Park House now contains luxury apartments. It was the scene of serious disorder in January 1897, when the then owner attempted to close off public rights of way across the estate in defiance of a local government order. A crowd of over 400 armed with crowbars and sledgehammers turned out to support council officials as they forced open the access gates.
GHQ Stop Line B: After the Dunkirk evacuation in June 1940, it was decided to construct a system of static defence lines across the country to slow up and contain the expected German invasion. Stop Line B runs along the River Wey, and a number of pillboxes and anti-tank gun emplacements can be seen along the river between Moor Park and Tilford.
Waverley Abbey: This was the first monastery founded in England by the Cistercian order, dating from 1128. It was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1536 during the dissolution of the monasteries, and subsequently demolished. Its stone was used in local buildings, including Waverley Abbey House (1723) sitting to the north of the Abbey. The ruins are in the care of English Heritage.
Tilford: Lying 3 miles south of Farnham, the village sits at the confluence of the north and south branches of the River Wey. The triangular green & cricket pitch is spread out in front of the Barley Mow pub dating from 1763. Each branch of the river is spanned by early 12th century packhorse bridges, probably built by the monks of Waverley Abbey.
Pierrepont Farm: Owned by the Countryside Regeneration Trust, the 200-acre farm is home to a number of craft units, including a dairy, cheesemakers, furniture makers, and a micro-brewery & taproom bar run by the Farnham Brewing Company.
Bourne Wood: This Forestry Commission woodland just on the outskirts of Farnham has been used for filming events for the last 20 years. It has hosted films such as Gladiator, Harry Potter, Warhorse, Thor, Wonder Woman, and more recently The Crown. This summer it is rumoured to be staging series 2 of House of the Dragon.
The route (click the link in red to see it):
From Farnham station, we will walk out of town on Waverley Lane before crossing the River Wey north branch and entering the Moor Park estate by Moor Park House. We will walk down the east bank of the river for about a mile to reach Waverley Abbey, noting the remnants of GHQ Stop Line B as we go.
At the Abbey, we will divert from the route to visit the ruins, before continuing south beside the river for another mile-and-a-half to reach Tilford. Here we will stop for lunch.
After the break, we will head south-west out the village, this time walking beside the south branch of the River Wey for a couple of miles to reach Pierrepont Farm and pause to visit the taproom and other businesses. From the farm, we will walk steadily north beside Tankersford Common, and then along the western edge of Farnham Heath RSPB Reserve, with its magnificent conifers. Continuing north, we will head up the steep western boundary of Bourne Wood to enter the hilly southern suburbs of Farnham at Lower Bourne. From here, it is a little under two miles back to the station, with this section containing the most demanding ascents and descents.
Dogs are welcome on this walk, and this is suitable for them, with no stiles to negotiate. However, if we encounter grazing livestock or walk along busy roads, a lead must be used. This particularly applies at Waverley Abbey, where we will be walking along a narrow path beside the busy B3001. At other times, a dog off the lead must be obedient.
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Tilford village green, Farnham station, Moor Park House, Anti-tank gun emplacement, Waverley Abbey ruins, Tilford East bridge, Taproom at Pierrepont Farm, Farnham Heath, Bourne Wood filming.
All images taken by the walk leader 26th August 2023.
What to bring
Well-fitting waterproof walking boots or shoes will be essential as parts of the route could be very muddy if there has been a lot of rain. Otherwise bring or wear clothes and equipment suited to the weather, including a raincoat if rain is forecast, and a hat and high-factor suncream if sun is.
Food & drink
Please bring a packed lunch and lots to drink.
There is a pub (the Barley Mow) with a café (Little Latte) right next to it on the green at Tilford during the lunch interval. There is also the village shop containing another café just across Tilford East bridge.
There will be an opportunity for refreshment (alcoholic & non-alcoholic) at the micro-brewery at Pierrepont Farm about 45 minutes after leaving Tilford.
There are also options for drinks near or at the end of the walk.