A circular walk taking you through the historic village of Witley, with its beautiful surrounding rolling farmland and heathland, and with an opportunity to extend the route by exploring Mare Hill Common. This walk is published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) Leave Witley rail station via the exit on Platform 2 and turn left, heading down the one-way exit road. At the T-junction with the road, cross over and take the narrow footpath directly ahead, leading you between garden fences (signed as part of the Greensand Way). Continue all the way to the end of this footpath, where you will emerge via a staggered barrier to the grass verge alongside the main A283. Turn left along the pavement for about 20 metres, and then cross over the main road (taking great care) to turn right into Wormley Lane. You will pass a beautiful old property with a triple chimney, Wood End, on your left. Ignore the first footpath (signed sharp left) and continue to the junction with Hambledon Park. Join the signed bridleway here, at about 11 o'clock (still following the Greensand Way). Follow this stone track leading you steadily uphill, ignoring any paths to the side. Further along, the track begins to descend to reach a junction of paths just before you reach Moor Cottage ahead.
(1) Turn left for a few paces to reach a fork of two bridleways (both signed with blue arrows). Take the right-hand of these two bridleways, a fairly level path leading you through a section of holly bushes. Stay with this bridleway which winds through the woodland, leading you steadily downhill to reach a junction of paths with a house on the left, Busses Cottage. Take the vehicle access track at about 11 o'clock and stay with this track as it winds ahead through the woodland. The track leads you past Sweetwater Cottage on your left and then a few more properties each side. Hidden from view behind the vegetation on the left is Sweetwater Pond, whilst across to the right you will be able to see the grounds of Enton Hall. Enton Hall dates back to 1881 and comprised a mansion, stable yards, cottages and coach house. In 1948 it became a health hydro and in 1956 the James Bond author, Ian Fleming, was a spa resident. He used this as his inspiration for the spa in the book Thunderball. Following a fire, the site was redeveloped into a private residential estate of apartments and cottages including private facilities (golf course, tennis courts and a fitness centre) and landscaped gardens. At the end of the track you will emerge to a junction with a quiet lane, Water Lane. At this point you are finally rewarded with views to your left over the large lake, Sweetwater Pond. Turn right along the lane for just a few paces and then turn left onto the signed public footpath which leads you into the next section of woodland. Further along, this path leads you through the arched tunnel beneath a railway bridge.
(2) At the far side, simply keep ahead on the obvious woodland path which soon leads you over a stream via a small bridge. NOTE: This section can be fairly muddy throughout the year as it is close to the source of a spring. Just beyond the bridge, you will come to a T-junction with a track, turn right along this, passing the entrance for Well Cottage on the right (no prizes for guessing that this cottage once made use of this natural spring water!). Keep ahead through the gap in the hedgerow to reach the corner of a large playing field. Walk directly ahead, with the boundary fence running to your right and passing the children's play area on your left. Through the fence to your right, you will be able to see across to Enton Lakes. Beyond the play area, bear left, heading for the exit gate (which sits between the large beech tree on the left and the village hall pavilion on the right). Pass through the gate and turn right along the pavement of the A283, passing the pretty black and white frontage of the village hall, Chichester Hall. The hall was built in 1935 and was funded by a donation from Mrs Chichester of Enton Hall, in memory of her husband. Beyond the hall, cross over the road with care to swap to the left-hand pavement. Follow the pavement heading into the village centre, passing a number of pretty cottages with black and white timbered gables. On the left you will pass the 1883 Club and on the right you will pass The White Hart pub, a good place to stop for refreshments should you wish. The pub may well have taken its name from the emblem of Richard II, who held a hunting lodge in Witley in the 1300s. With the pub on your right, turn left into Church Lane and follow this past the old vicarage on your left and All Saints Church on your right. The original church on this site was mentioned in the Domesday Survey.
(3) Continue along Church Lane, passing the infant school on your left, swinging left and then passing Jubilee Hall, also on your left. Ignore the path signed to the left, instead keep right (following the line of the wall on your right) signed as a public footpath. Walk ahead through the parking area to reach the 1912 golden stone property, Witley Lodge, ahead. Take the signed footpath at about 2 o'clock, a narrow footpath between fences (NOT the vehicle access track for the other houses). The path runs parallel with the access road on your right. Further along, where the access road ends, keep ahead on the path which leads you downhill into woodland and then bears left. Stay with this path as it turns right, leads you down a flight of steps, passes a beautiful pond on your left and then swings left to reach a junction alongside the entrance drive for the property, Lower Roke. Keep straight ahead here, following the path through a beautiful section of coppiced woodland and then climbing steadily to run alongside a wire fence on your right. You will emerge to a junction with a track, keep straight ahead, passing a row of properties on your left. Take time to enjoy the views that have opened up across the valley on your left. After passing the last house, Mare House, fork left onto the signed footpath which soon reaches a junction with a stone access drive. At this point, the walk takes a short detour to visit the viewpoint on Mare Hill Common. Turn right to reach the road, cross over with care and then go straight ahead on the narrow path leading into Mare Hill Common. Follow the path winding through the gorse bushes and you will emerge to a junction of tracks. Go straight ahead to join the narrower track at about 1 o'clock and follow this to the brow of the hill (with the remains of a bench). This is a great point to enjoy the expansive views to the north, which stretch for miles on a clear day. If you wish to extend the walk, you can do so by exploring Mare Hill Common and then returning to this point when you are ready to continue. The common covers 40 hectares and is managed for nature conservation as well as recreational activities. Look out for roe deer, adders and common lizards (often seen basking on sunny summer mornings) and a huge range of birds, including nightjars and woodpeckers.
(4) When you are ready to continue, turn round and retrace your steps back to the track junction. Cross over and take the narrow path on which you entered the common (at about 1 o'clock), following it through the gorse and out to the road. Cross over and walk ahead into the entrance drive for Lemon Field Cottage. Follow this entrance track as it swings right and leads you steadily downhill. Pass to the left of Mare Hill Cottage, pass alongside a disused stile to reach the next stile ahead. Cross this to join the fenced grass path running through the centre of the large grass pastures. Halfway along the fields, pass through the kissing gate ahead to reach a junction of fenced paths. Go straight ahead (ignoring the left-hand path branch) and follow the fenced path for some distance, enjoying the expansive views across the surrounding rolling pastures. At the far end of the path you will come to a single gate ahead with a fingerpost marking a junction of paths, with the converted barns of Parsonage Farm just across to your right.
(5) Go through the gate ahead and take the obvious path (at about 1 o'clock) through the grass meadow. You will emerge out to a vehicle drive, turn left along this to reach a T-junction marked with a fingerpost (with Parsonage Farm Bungalow on your right). Turn left onto the stone track bridleway and follow this all the way out to a T-junction with a quiet country lane. Turn left along the lane, taking care of any occasional traffic, taking time to enjoy the pretty banks of coppiced trees running each side (most of which are adorned with holly and ivy). Continue past Winkford Farm Cottages on your left and 60 metres later, ignore the footpath signed to the left. A few metres later, turn sharp right onto the signed bridleway which leads you steeply downhill into the woodland (take care on this descent). Stay with this path, soon running with a fence on the left, for some distance. The beautiful area of coppiced woodland on your left is awash with bluebells in the late spring. On the left you will pass a garden entrance into the grounds of King Edward's School and then you will emerge out to a stone access drive with a property on your left. Keep ahead along the drive and you will reach a junction with a quiet country lane, Bannacle Hill Road.
(6) Cross over and take the footpath ahead, part of the Greensand Way. Follow this path as it swings right along a ridge within Sandhills Common, to reach a pair of benches. Once again the views here on a clear day are magnificent, this time looking towards the south. Immediately after the benches, turn left to join the subtle path heading steeply downhill to reach a junction with a gravel drive. Turn left along this for a few paces to reach the road, Brook Road. Cross over with care, walk ahead for a few paces and then bear left to follow the stone access track. The track narrows to a footpath leading you through the woodland. At the far side of the trees, you will emerge out to another gravel drive, alongside Pinewood Lodge. Keep directly ahead along the vehicle track and follow this until you reach a crossroads junction, with the property called Inglewood just ahead and to your right. Turn right here, following the vehicle track heading steadily downhill and then narrowing to a tarmac footpath. The path swings left and leads you directly onto Platform 1 of Witley rail station. If you need to reach the car park, turn left along the platform and use the steps and footbridge to cross the railway to reach Platform 2 and the car park exit where the walk began.(D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 89m - Witley rail station
1 : km 1.27 - alt. 106m - Moor Cottage
2 : km 2.47 - alt. 81m - Railway bridge
3 : km 3.13 - alt. 89m - Church Lane
4 : km 4.42 - alt. 99m - Mare Hill Common
5 : km 5.76 - alt. 123m - Parsonage Farm
6 : km 7.35 - alt. 121m - Bannacle Hill Road
D/A : km 8.21 - alt. 89m - Witley rail station
The walk has gentle slopes throughout plus a couple of steeper sections. The paths and bridleways through the woodland and commons can get very muddy so good boots are a must (or wellingtons with grips in the winter months). You will need to negotiate one stile (which has an adjacent dog gate) plus a number of kissing gates and steps on route. The paths are all enclosed from the farmland and so you will not need to walk through livestock. There are only a couple of very short sections on roads, and these are very quiet lanes, but you will need to cross the A283 twice, so please take care at these points. Approximate time 2.5 hours.
There are toilets at Witley rail station, at the start and end of the walk. If you are looking for refreshments, you will find The White Hart pub in Witley village, just before you reach the church (waypoint 3). Ordnance Survey Map: Explorer OL33 Haslemere and Petersfield and 145 Guildford and Farnham. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Information is included for your interest, but please respect people's privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code. There is a £3.50 day fee on the weekends to park at Witley Rail Station.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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