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  • Writer's picturekenneth

Three by Three by Three by Free!

Over the first three days of this year’s Guildford Walkfest, I joined in three walks – each of about three miles. They were in different parts of the Borough, had completely different scenery and were all free.

In what other festival could one have the opportunity to enjoy such a varied itinerary?

On Day 1, I walked along part of the Basingstoke Canal and learned about its demise and - especially interesting – the use of sunken canal barges at Great Bottom Flash to prevent German flying boats landing there in the event of invasion during WWII. Minutes later, I was strolling through wooded heathland and enjoying the scenery of Ash Ranges. What a contrast!

On Day 2, I joined a wonderful RSPB hosted walk along the Wey from Burpham and around the nearby nature reserve. During the gentle stroll of almost three hours (yes, that number again!) we saw about 35 different species of birds and had the delight of watching a kingfisher - not only perching on a tree near us, but diving into the water to catch its food. A wonderful sight that I had never experienced before. We even added other wildlife to our list of finds – as shown by the superb Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar shown in the photo above.

Day 3 took us to the Tillingbourne Valley with a visit to the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills and then a walk up to the top of St Martha’s Hill to enjoy the fabulous views from the churchyard. We learned about the history of gunpowder manufacture here and the more recent abandonment and conservation of this heritage site. Then, at the church, we discovered some fascinating stories about a number of the people whose memorials or graves are there. We even learned about Chilworth Manor Vineyard and the story of a secret tunnel between the Manor House and the church.

A big thank you to the walk leaders and others on these walks who made them so informative, social and really enjoyable half day outings.

I’m really looking forward to being part of some more of the Walkfest events. Why don’t you book some and join me?

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