Autumn had arrived and despite the continuing good weather it was quite clear that days were getting colder and the dew more pronounced. Hence on this walk despite the wonderful conditions we ended up with very wet feet! My daughter had a rather random inset day in the middle of the week and with most of her friends away doing something else she decided that she wanted to make the most of a wonderful autumn day and have some fresh air with me. She picked out this walk as an introduction to the North Downs for we have some intentions of doing this as a family walk next year. It is walk 14 from the Pathfinder guide number 65 Surrey Walks.
We parked up by Watts Cemetery just outside the village of Compton. I have been through here many times and always think how attractive it is. It also reminds me of the famous footballer/ cricketer from days gone by. The idea of any sportsman excelling in two sports simultaneously these days is unthinkable. The start of our walk was alongside a road, which wasn't the best introduction especially as it was so busy on this Wednesday morning.
It was a relief when we got to the Watts Gallery, home of 500 pieces of work of the famous painter and sculptor G F Watts. I wasn't sure it was open as we passed by but made a metal note of perhaps visiting some time in future for a closer look. We joined the North Downs Way at this point and would follow the path almost all the way to Guildford. The path ran steadily uphill for quite a while but not so much as to be noticeable to daughter (she seems allergic to hills at the moment). The path was very pleasant, passing along field boundaries, through sunken sections and across stretches of woodland, now showing advanced stages of autumn. The sunken section of the path hinted that this was an ancient thoroughfare, perhaps between the village of Compton and Guildford.
|North Downs Ridge|
Along the way I had the best chat with my daughter as we admired the surrounding countryside. Walking really stimulates good conversation I always think. This walk sparked conversations about history mostly - surrounding us were relics from pre-history in the shape of tumuli and from World War II in the shape of pillboxes. Daughter seems to be particularly enjoying history at school at the moment so relating what she learns there to the landscape around really sparked her imagination. On the way along this section of this path we passed a large group of ramblers. I was thankful they were going the opposite way to us.
|Former Guards Van|
Eventually at the top of East Warren we reached the summit of the walk and it was downhill into the Wey Valley. This is a section of the North Downs Way that I remember from my outing in 2004. Back then I was faced with a field of sheep mostly gathered around hay dispensers. There were none now and the field looked like it had been grazed for a while so lush was the grass. We looped around the field and I looked out for an old railway guard's van that I had spotted last time. I was pleased to see it was still there although noticed that it had disappeared further into the vegetation. Eventually I suspect that nature will reclaim it completely.
Just before we reached the main road that leads into Guildford we took a sharp right and headed up a steep hill that took us around the perimeter of the Surrey Police College of Brabhoeuf Manor. This looked like a very well appointed place for would-be police officers and had a magnificent setting overlooking the Weald. The path stuck rigidly to the perimeter fence as we went up and over the ridge on which it sits. Eventually when we got to the bottom of the hill we reached the corner of the fence and went our separate ways. For us we turned right again and headed back towards Compton.
Considering that we were only about half a mile from the path on the other side of the ridge the character of the path could not have been more different. We passed by the hamlet of Littleton and then crossed into Loseley Park. The house at the centre of the park, which we could see from a distance, seems to have been made up from other treasures taken from earlier buildings. Much of the stone came from Waverley Priory while some of the internal panelling came from Nonsuch Palace, places I have visited on other earlier walks. The house looks like a treasure to be visited next year with our newly acquired membership of the Historic Houses Association.
We passed by the fishing lake at the bottom of the estate and round the perimeter until we reached the former main drive. This was a magnificent avenue of trees, now starting to shed leaves and conkers and the path was becoming littered with autumn debris. The scene was rudely interrupted by the group of ramblers that we had encountered earlier. It looked very much like they were doing the same walk as us albeit in the opposite direction.
At Polsted Manor we changed direction, heading along the metalled Polsted Lane into the village of Compton. We had intentions of a pub lunch in Compton at the Harrow pub but when we arrived it wasn't open. It seems to be a Thai restaurant these days so not sure we would have gone for that in any event. The last stretch of the walk though Compton village was along the main road, which wasn't the nicest way to end any walk but we did at least get a good look at the church and even crossed the road so we could get a good look inside. A most attractive church it was too, especially decked out with autumnal flowers and ready for any harvest festival service that might be held.
This was not an especially challenging walk but was full of wonderful views through the best sort of countryside Surrey has to offer. Although bounded on all sides by some very busy roads they did not impinge on the enjoyment of the walk at all. Moreover it gave me a good opportunity to enjoy my daughter's company - a rare thing in these otherwise busy times.