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A Look Back at Week One


As the sun sets on the first week of this year’s Walkfest, I look back at the three events that I joined. All three were hosted by Surrey Hills Society (SHS) – but were not all in the Surrey Hills. And the leaders were all brilliant! We had Keith Chesterton (Walkfest President) leading our Railway Paths walk, Gordon Jackson (Chairman of SHS) heading our Papercourt amble and Chris Howard (Chair of Walkfest and Vice President of SHS) taking us around Compton.


What really struck me was the diversity of our countryside within such a short distance of Guildford town. The walks on 3rd and 5th both had a slightly watery theme since they included small sections of the Wey – either as the natural river or the canalised navigation.

The walk along our route near Shalford (3rd Sept) took in far more wooded sections and gave glimpses of the former Wey & Arun Junction Canal which is no longer navigable. It then joined the former Horsham to Guildford railway line which is now a long distance cycle and walking path. In contrast, the walk from Ripley (5th Sept) picked up the channel of the River Wey and followed water meadows and more open scenery as it meandered along a fairly well used watercourse past several locks. This route gave views of Dunsborough Park gatehouse and Newark Priory ruins – both stunning architectural features.

As a total contrast, our Sunday walk around Compton (6th Sept) introduced us to a mix of rural and village scenery together with the gems of Watts Cemetery Chapel and Limnerslease - the former home of GF Watts and his wife, Mary. With a backdrop of the North Downs it is easy to see why Compton and the Watts complex are such popular places to visit – and to walk around.


Amongst the things that all three walks had in common was the lack of steep hills on the routes, good off-road paths and tracks plus the ability to do circular walks of 4 miles or less. Add these factors to the scenic aspects and you would be hard pushed to find better reasons for getting out into our local countryside.


So if you thought that walking in Surrey – and events such as Guildford Walkfest – were all about heads down, long distance, routes for experienced walkers, think again. These were all leisurely ambles that gave time to enjoy our surroundings, chat with other participants and to be at ease whilst visiting new and interesting places. I can highly recommend them.

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