Statistics: 11.6 miles, ascent 1194′, descent 1038′

We spent the night before beginning the North Downs Way in the attractive and ancient town of Farnham at a comfortable B&B, 1 Park Row B&B, which had been a milking shed in the 15th century. Although a small building, the B&B had quaint charm, was clean and our host was friendly and helpful.

1 Park Row B&B

My friend and hiking companion, Nancy, had arrived the previous day on the train from London and this morning we eagerly anticipated the first steps of our NDW trek. Our host at the B&B, Maxine, prepared a tasty breakfast and volunteered to give my mother a lift to Guildford. After a quick farewell, we were off! The trail commenced just a short walk from our lodging.

Official Start of the NDW in Farnham

The path followed a small, reed-filled stream which would become the much more substantial River Wey in several miles. The woodsy trail soon opened out onto the Farnham Golf Club. It is amazing to me how many trails in England frequently cross or touch golf courses which, of course, make for a pleasing landscape. Such courses are also a lure for my golfer husband, who has been known to meet up with us as we hiked near a golf course.

Farnham Golf Club

The “Downs” are chalk hills which contribute substantially to the geography of the region although we did not see any this first day. Walking along long stretches of farmland, however, made it easy to get lost in one’s thoughts.

Field walking

Entering the village of Puttenham, we had a good chuckle as we observed the name of the local pub, “The Good Intent.” At the top of the village was the Church of John the Baptist (the earliest part of this church was built by the Saxons). We noticed a park bench in the churchyard and decided to have a seat and take in the morning sunshine while having a snack.

Church of John the Baptist

We continued on, encountering another golf course and woods. A sign, perfectly timed for a lunch break, directed us to a tea room at the Watts Art Gallery which did indeed have a bountiful tea room with delicious cakes and pastries. Not able to resist these offerings, we indulged in some of their yummy cakes.

Leaving this gallery, we found that the trail plunged into the forest again as it headed up the hill.

Trail from the Watt Gallery

As we neared Guilford, we could just make out buildings peeking above the trees.

Nearing Guildford

By the time the River Wey completed its course through Guildford, it had expanded to become a navigable river adjoining a peaceful park.

Along the River Wey, Guildford

Picturesque canal boats passed by as we entered town.

Canal boat on the River Wey

To find our B&B, we had to climb steeply up city streets, during which we came upon the impressive ruins of Guildford Castle.

Guildford Castle ruins

The castle is believed to have been built by William the Conqueror sometime after 1066. During the 13th-century, Henry III sumptuously redecorated it. The castle’s current remains are thought to be the King’s private chamber within the castle, which was abandoned after Henry’s death.

Continuing our walk up the hill, we located our B&B for this evening, the Highfield House B&B. Our hosts, Jo and Mike, enjoyed extended walks or hikes themselves and catered to walkers – which made this stay particularly interesting. For a delicious, reasonably priced dinner, we highly recommend the Shardana Italian Restaurant just a short walk down the hill.

Highfield House B&B

We were treated to a lovely sunset over Guildford as we walked home from dinner.

Sunset over Guildford

3 thoughts

  1. Beautiful prose! You saw things I just walked by, like golf courses. You are an excellent writer! Who knew! Why no picture of the cake options at the gallery tea house! It was phenomenal.

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