Half way through Walkfest now and we’ve had some super walks. This time I want to focus on three of the walks from the last week that have been led or hosted by Surrey Hills Society. The Society are one of the sponsors of Walkfest – as you may have seen on the cover of the brochure. But their members have also played some key roles in making Walkfest happen – from the Chairman to several of the backmarkers on walks.
However, back to the walks. On Thursday they managed a real coup! Not only did they lead a walk out along the river from Guildford to Shalford but having arrived there, they then gained extra walkers and took them all to a wonderful garden in Wonersh. This garden normally opens for National Garden Scheme visits but the Society’s Vice President had managed to arrange for the gardens to be opened specifically to this Walkfest group – and, very generously, the owners did so free of charge. The gardens could fill a blog all on their own! However, for brevity, let’s just say that they were a wonderful oasis to rest, explore and enjoy before heading back to Guildford.
On Friday, the Society hosted a walk which they had arranged in conjunction with Richard Fox – the creator of The Fox Way which forms a 39 mile loop around Guildford Borough. No we didn’t do it all! This time it was the section from Clandon Station to Shere via the crest of the Downs and Silent Pool.
One of the pleasures of walks run by the Society is that there are frequent brief stops to tell the group about the areas they are passing through. Everyone learns something. On this occasion, one of the walkers told us that the slopes above Clandon used to grow cabbages and that there is a type of cabbage whose stems are used to make walking sticks. Difficult to believe but look it up and you will find it’s true. Elsewhere we heard about some of the history of the area and, of course, there is lots to talk about around Silent Pool, Albury Apostolic Church and Shere itself.
The third walk to mention was on Saturday as part of the national Heritage Open Days activities. For this walk which was designed to fit in with the heritage theme we, again, set off along the river towards Shalford. But this time, on arriving there, we headed to the Chapel of Ease which is a wonderful late Victorian building that is not often open to the public. We had the key thanks to Shalford Parish Council! After a brief talk and a wander round, we headed down the road to Shalford Mill which the National Trust had opened up for tours. Our group spent a long time having a look around inside and learning more about its history before we walked back through Shalford Park to our journeys end at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre.
The common threads of these walks were not just the pleasant company of the other walkers or the wonderful weather that we had but the fact that we saw and learned so much along the way. Real walking for pleasure.