Surrey walk around Blackheath
- Credit: Jane Thomas
Enjoy this easy 2.5 mile (4 km) walk around this picturesque heathland and alpine woodland, close to Guildford
• Start: Albury Heath car park
• Nearest railway station: Chilworth
• Grid ref: TQ 062466 Postcode for
• Sat Nav: GU5 9DB
• Length of walk: 1 ½ hours
• Food and drink: Nearest pub is the William IV on Albury Heath.
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• While you are there: Visit the Anglo Saxon church in the grounds of Albury estate, used for Andie MacDowell’s wedding in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral
• Free guided walk: Check the Surrey Hills Society website for details of a free walk around Blackheath on Sunday March 4 – see surreyhillssociety.org
1. Turn right out of the car park and immediately take a narrow sandy path diagonally left. The path widens as you pass a bench on the left, then narrows again and curves right to meet a wide track. Cross straight over on a narrow path. Keep to the main windy path until, in 30 metres, you meet a tarmac drive. Continue straight over, following a large hollow on your left. At the end of the hollow, turn left when you meet a much wider path. Keep the overhead wires on your left, avoiding any side paths. The path leads down through pine trees towards a green field with a fence ahead.
2. Turn right before the fence. Stay on this unmarked path for about 150 metres with good open views on your left and, on the right, the mixed woodland called Albury Warren. At a corner of a wire fence, keep straight ahead ignoring a path right. In 30 metres you are in a forest of tall pines with paths going uphill straight ahead.
3. Fork left and immediately fork left again, staying close to the meadow on your left. In 200 metres keep left on a narrow path. When the main path turns right uphill stay on path near the meadow. In about 50 metres your path bends left to follow the outline of a corner of the meadow. In 100 metres at the top of a rise, your path forks.
4. Take the left fork (the narrower option), avoiding the right fork into pine trees. In 50 metres, cross a stile into the meadow. Turn left on a bridleway. Cross the meadow staying about 20 metres from the right hand side, pass a group of trees on the right and cross at the railway crossing. Continue ahead down a small sunken path through a hazel wood. Go through a metal gate and follow the path left beside Ford Farm. Go through a gate to a gravel path and keep straight past a converted barn on the right.
5. At the end of the path, turn sharp right onto a sandy bridleway, which runs for just over 400 metres along a sunken path and finally comes to a junction of paths by a post as it enters the wooded common of Blackheath. Take the wide sunken path straight ahead and then almost immediately leave the sunken path and veer right on a narrow rising path. When you get to a T-junction, turn left. In 30 metres, you reach a junction of six main paths (plus numerous small ones). Take the third path from the left, a broad sandy bridle track, at a right angle to your original path. In about 150 metres, the path goes over a crossing path. It then joins a wider track coming from the right by a seat. Soon the track reaches a wooden barrier looking down onto Lipscombe Cottage.
6. Before you reach the cottage, take a narrow footpath to the left, marked as the Fox Way. Follow the path up to a stile and go straight ahead through pinewoods. Go over a crossing path and through bracken and at a T-junction turn right to go through a metal gate into a meadow. Enjoy views of the North Downs with the hamlet of Brook ahead. Follow the wide fenced path between several horse fields. Where the hedge on the left ends, join a farm track leading to the road. Turn left on the road. Pass Brook Farm.
7. Ignore a road forking right and continue over a level crossing. Immediately after the crossing, turn right on a narrow path between banks. Keep walking straight ahead, across a mossy space till you meet a wide crossing path by a brick shed. Turn left and in 100 metres or so, at a T-junction, veer left to arrive back at the car park.
• From the Bronze Age farmers cleared areas of forest around Blackheath to create grasslands. However, the soils were very thin and sandy and the nutrients were quickly lost. This resulted in a tree-less sandy landscape ideally suited to heather and gorsebush.
• During the Second World War the Canadian army was based on Blackheath.
• The Second World War marked the end of a long period of grazing Blackheath, and the birch and pine seeds invaded the area. Woodland developed with the loss of 40 per cent of valuable lowland heath since 1950. A number of areas have been restored to heathland using volunteers.
• Parts of Blackheath are designated Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) to protect rare ground nesting birds, butterflies, beetles, adders and some lizards.
• The William IV public house in close-by Little London dates back to the 16th century.