This is a scenically varied walk in the North Downs, which begins at Horsley railway station and ends in Guildford.
We begin the walk by following a path through the woods and fields to pass West Horsley Place and West Horsley church. After a climb, we will hopefully be rewarded with lovely views north, which on a clear day can include the London Eye and the Shard. Continuing onwards, we reach the Sheepleas, 300 acres of downland woodland, designated as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where we will be able to enjoy the nature reserve. Soon, our route joins the North Downs Way and continues through Shere Woods. The path now descends, passing a World War Two pill box and an organic vineyard, before reaching a pair of pools, the Silent Pool (said to be haunted by locals) and the Sherborne Pool. Our track now crosses open fields with views opening up to St Martha’s Hill. As we ascend on part of the ancient Pilgrim’s Way, we continue to climb steadily, to be rewarded with views southward over the Weald. We now re-join the North Downs Way and follow a sandy track to the hill top St Martha’s Church. There has been a religious structure on this hill since at least the 12th century and the development of the pilgrimage route to Canterbury. In fact some suggest the name “Martha” is a corruption of the word “martyr,” a reference to Thomas Beckett. From St Martha’s, we continue to follow the North Downs Way to reach the edge of Guildford. At the banks of the River Wey, we turn north and continue into the town to end the walk at a very nice riverside pub (so I have been told). After suitable refreshments, we will head to Guildford station for our journey home.
We will take a break for lunch mid-way through the walk, so all walkers will need to bring their own refreshments and plenty of drinking water, particularly if the weather is hot.
Once we leave Haslemere behind our route takes us through beautiful countryside made up mainly of mixed woodland, and heath.The morning’s walk takes us south through land owned by the National Trust. After crossing Marley Common, we climb steadily to reach Marley Heights before dropping down into the outskirts of the town of Fernhurst. From here we head eastwards aiming for the southern tip of the area known as Black Down, which at 280 metres above sea level is the highest hill in Sussex. A steep climb takes us to the viewpoint known as ‘Temple of the Winds’, a spot with magnificent views towards the South Downs and with strong associations with the poet Tennyson. At this point we join the Serpents Trail and turn north to walk at high level across heathland. After a kilometre or so, we reach a minor road called Tennyson’s Lane and start to descend. Leaving the road we continue through farmland and woodland, heading towards Haslemere. We enter the town via Well Lane, a major source of the settlements drinking water in bygone times and have the opportunity to explore the High Street shops before returning to station and trains back to London.
Please remember to bring enough drinking water to last the whole day, particularly if the weather is hot. A packed lunch will also be required.
This walk has three distinct sections. Firstly, starting from Leigh-on-Sea station the route follows the Thames Estuary Path, passing Two Tree Island, Canvey Island and the remains of General Booth’s moorings. There are fine views inland to Hadleigh Castle and in the distance the Thames Gateway port facilities can be seen. The estuary looks more attractive when the tide is in, but is apparently more ornithologically interesting when the mud flats are exposed.
We eventually come to Benfleet, passing a marina on the way and the barge ‘Gladys’ which also serves drinks and has toilet facilities. Benfleet has a history going back long before the Battle of Benfleet in 894 when King Alfred’s troops defeated the Vikings, but is now primarily a boating centre and commuter town.
The next stage involves a climb out of Benfleet to Benfleet Downs and the wooded area of Hadleigh Country Park. As we climb we will catch superb views through gaps in the woodland of the Thames estuary and north Kent on the far side of the river. An area of the Park was used in the 2012 London Olympics as the site for the Mountain Biking competitions and is still popular today with cycle enthusiasts, so be aware of people on two wheels.
We reach Round Hill and then descend over a part of the Olympic course before climbing Adders Hill to reach a rare breed farm and a Salvation Army training centre (a separate facility not the same one!). Our route now heads down Plumtree Hill to the remains of King Edward III’s Hadleigh Castle. The view from here is the finest of the whole walk with commanding views over the estuary. We then follow the Saffron Trail down along a ridge to return to Leigh-on-Sea.
Our third and final stage is a stroll along the seafront passing the cockle sheds and picturesque quayside streets of Leigh-on-Sea, the bathing pools of Chalkwell, “HMS Tupperware”. As we end with the seaside attractions of Westcliff and Southend, there will be ample opportunity for tired walkers to partake of refreshment (beer, tea, ice cream, seafood, candy floss, jellied eels etc.)
Based in Eastbourne, we will use the two days of this ramble to explore the Sussex Downs to the west of the town. As well as enjoying our walking, by having an overnight stay we hope to expand the social side of group activities. So, while we will make our own arrangements for accommodation, it is intended that we will all enjoy a meal together on the Tuesday evening.
The two walks allow us to experience the beautiful coastline with its dramatic chalk cliffs, the estuary of the Cuckmere River, typical Sussex villages and the grandeur of the South Downs themselves. The walks offer fabulous views and away from the coast a magnificent sense of solitude.
Eastbourne meanwhile offers a wide range of accommodation and places to eat, as well as easy transport connections where needed.
We start at Eastbourne pier and walk along the promenade, before we take the inland route of the South Downs Way towards the trig. point on Bourne Hill. From here we descend to the village of Jevington, a crossroads for long distance paths, with both the Wealdway and the 1066 Country Walk also passing through. We continue across the Downs, taking in Windover Hill and the Long Man of Wilmington before descending into the Cuckmere valley and the village of Alfriston. As we follow the Cuckmere south towards the coast, now sharing our route with the Vanguard Way, there is one final climb ahead. However the effort is well worthwhile, for upon emerging from Friston Forest a glorious view of the Cuckmere meanders and the Seven Sisters is laid out before us. A short descent takes us to the road at Exceat and a frequent bus service back to Eastbourne.
A short bus ride from Eastbourne takes us to the town of Seaford, from where we walk back to Eastbourne along the coast. We begin with a gentle stroll out of Seaford along the cliff top to Seaford Head before descending into Cuckmere Haven. We are following the Vanguard Way again, as it takes us north to cross the Cuckmere at Exceat Bridge and the end of Tuesday’s walk. We now rejoin the South Downs Way and head south towards the chalk cliffs, the iconic Seven Sisters. Our way now lies to the south- east as we roller-coaster over the chalk grassland heading towards Birling Gap and the opportunity of refreshment. We must however climb the Downs once more and shortly pass the Belle Tout lighthouse (now a private residence) before continuing to Beachy Head. Those with a head for heights now have the opportunity to gaze down 160 metres of vertical chalk cliff to view Beachy Head lighthouse, others may of course decide to give it a mis
The walk will start at Faversham Station, returning to central London from Whitstable. Further details regarding travel will be provided nearer the time.
In order to take advantage of off peak rail fares, the walk will start at Faversham Station a little later than usual at approx. 11.30 a.m. We return to central London from Whitstable and expect to arrive around 6.00 p.m. Further details regarding travel will be provided nearer the time.
The walk incorporates a good well marked path with lovely views of the Swale estuary, South Swale Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey and Whitstable Bay. It also provides an opportunity to spot a variety of sea and marsh birds and wild flowers.
We begin the walk at the pretty market square in the medieval town of Faversham which boasts nearly 500 listed buildings. Walking through this historic town we pass the Shepherd Neame Brewery heading towards the Saxon Shore Way – named after the line of historic fortifications that defended the Kent coast at the end of the Roman era. We weave through a fascinating boat yard and then cross a foot bridge across Faversham Creek and marshes – we may have a short wait here if the bridge is raised to let boats pass. Then it’s on to Nagden Cottages and the sea wall, providing fascinating views of the Isle of Sheppey and Swale estuary. Our route takes us along the coast with the South Swale Nature Reserve on our left and Nagden, Greveney and Cleve marshes to the right. As we continue along the coast we reach the village of Seasalter, famous for its salt production in the Iron Age and Viking raids in the area. We pass the Michelin starred Sportsman pub at the western end of the village by the marshes, on a site which has hosted an inn since 1642. After stopping for a picnic lunch on the beach or sea wall we then walk along the shingle beach keeping to the shoreline if the tide is out (or along the sea wall if not). Our route takes us past rows of beach huts and on to the fishing and harbour town of Whitstable famous for its oysters which have been harvested there since Roman times.
Possible rewards at the end of the walk (depending on time) include a paddle in the sea followed by fish & chips (or oysters) washed down with local Whitstable Bay beer. The station is a short walk away from the beach.
The break for lunch will be mid-way through the walk, so all walkers will need to bring their own refreshments and plenty of drinking water, particularly if the weather is hot.
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