Retreat to the woods when you stay in one of the log cabin style lodges at Tilford Woods. All…
The railway line no longer runs to Hayfield, high in the Derbyshire Peak District, the little station where people gathered for the mass trespass on Kinder Scout in 1932. The 1930s saw an explosion of interest in walking, and the Kinder Scout trespass was a landmark along the way to the legislation which underpins the modern family of National Trails. First was the Pennine Way, opened in 1965, but other routes were soon to follow. In September 1978, the North Downs Way was officially opened between Farnham and Dover, and you’ll follow a section of it on your way through Puttenham. In many places the route follows the old Pilgrims’ Way that runs from Winchester, through Farnham and Guildford to Canterbury.
Tales from the trail
This National Trail has a loop that allows modern-day pilgrims to visit Canterbury on their way to or from Dover, but you don’t need to walk all the way to Becket’s cathedral to enjoy a few stories of the road. About 400yds (366m) before you each the North Downs Way, near the entrance to a Woodland Trust property on your right, you’ll pass a bridleway that was part of the old carriage drive to Hampton Park. Legend has it that when playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan was visiting his friend Edward Long at Hampton in the early 19th century, his coach turned over at this spot. Long subsequently planted seven trees to mark the route – one for each of his daughters.
General James Oglethorpe (1699–1785), a philanthropist and social reformer who founded the American state of Georgia, where he hoped to settle some of Britain’s poorest residents, bought the Puttenham Estate in 1744. MP for Haslemere and a leading humanitarian, he mingled with many of the great people of the age, including John Wesley, Thomas Paine and Samuel Johnson, and was instrumental in founding a number of British hospitals, university colleges and the British Museum. The General’s Pond, near Puttenham middle car park, is named after him. However, he actually lived in Godalming, and he sold the estate in 1761. The new owner demolished the little manor house and replaced it with the Palladian mansion that you’ll see from the footpath off Suffield Lane at Point 4 on your walk, just after leaving the North Downs Way. Although Oglethorpe named it The Priory (now Puttenham Priory), the building never had any religious connections.
Facing the view from the car park, take the right-hand path, beside a litter bin, to drop down into the trees on a series of wide steps. At the bottom, take the first right and then left at the cross-tracks a few paces further on. Dodge in and out of the trees with a wide open area to your right.
At a five-way junction, just within the trees, turn right up a rough avenue of oak trees. At the next cross-tracks continue ahead, and the sandy track becomes grassy. At the next junction, fork left down an overgrown path. The path descends, and then turns left; and, at a bridleway marker, turn right up a sunken path to emerge opposite a four-way fingerpost beneath telephone lines. Turn left and at the first telegraph pole turn right. Pass a wooden barrier and, on reaching a gravel driveway, turn left. Pass two houses and rise up a slope beneath telephone lines, and follow them ahead. When the lines turn right, continue ahead passing Lascombe House on the right. Go onto the common, straight ahead to meet the North Downs Way.
Turn sharp right here and follow the North Downs Way as it winds over Little Common and continues through Puttenham.
Turn right opposite The Good Intent pub into Suffield Lane. As the lane swings to the right, cross the stile by the footpath signposted ‘The Fox Way’ on your left, and follow the left-hand edge of a field to the trees on the far side. Just before a metal gate (private property), dodge right to take the waymarked route beside a second stile. Continue along the edge of woodland, over a fallen tree, with a post-and-wire fence on your left-hand side, until a stile and kissing gate lead into an open field. Following the yellow waymark post, walk straight across the field, heading for the shortest oak tree, on the far right of a line of trees, and then through another kissing gate. Now keep ahead, following the waymarked path, and bear right down a short, sharp slope and bend right beneath power lines to a kissing gate leading out onto Puttenham Lane.
Turn right and follow the road to the left-hand bend. Turn right again, over the stile by a public footpath sign. Walk alongside a fence, which can be overgrown, and then onto a wide grassy track; at a cross-tracks keep ahead. Continue to a small wood, go through a broken kissing gate onto an old sunken lane, and keep ahead for 150yds (137m) to a small waymark post. Continue straight on, following a small public footpath sign, to a T-junction with a bridleway. Turn left and in 15yds (14m) turn right up some steps on a public footpath. Climb steeply here, for the short way back to Suffield Lane and the entrance to the car park at the walk’s start.
Woodland tracks and field-edge paths, 4 stiles
Wooded heath and farmland
Can run free on Puttenham Common, lead required in village and over farmland
OS Explorer 145 Guildford & Farnham
Puttenham Common top car park, on Suffield Lane
None on route
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Surrey may be better known for its suburbia than its scenery, but the image is unjust. Over a quarter of the county’s landscapes are official Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and along the downs and the greensand ridge you can gaze to distant horizons with hardly a building in sight. This is one of England’s most wooded counties, and has more village greens than any other shire. You’ll find sandy tracks and cottage gardens, folded hillsides and welcoming village inns. There’s variety, too, as the fields and meadows of the east give way to the wooded downs and valleys west of the River Mole.
Of course there are also large built-up areas, mainly within and around the M25; but even here you can still find appealing visits and days out. On the fringe of Greater London you can picnic in Chaldon’s hay meadows, explore the wide open downs at Epsom, or drift idly beside the broad reaches of the stately River Thames. Deep in the Surrey countryside you’ll discover the Romans at Farley Heath, and mingle with the monks at England’s first Cistercian monastery. You’ll see buildings by great architects like Edwin Lutyens and Sir George Gilbert Scott, and meet authors too, from John Donne to Agatha Christie.
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