A circular walk exploring the suburbs around the village of Ash, linking the history of transport in the Blackwater Valley from the old railway path to the canal towpath and riverside path. This walk is part of the Explore Surrey collection, published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) Stand in the car park, facing the road with Victoria Hall (with its distinctive clock tower) opposite. The hall was built in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The clock tower was added in 1900 and the brickwork has two inscriptions: 'Deeds not words prove man's worth' and 'Work wins'.
Turn left out of the car park to join the unmade path beside a vehicle barrier which leads you through the trees (with the road running across to your right). Continue directly ahead until you reach the junction with a side road. Keep directly ahead along this, passing the red brick youth and community centre on your left. Immediately afterwards, you will come to a fork in the track. Take the left-hand branch, passing alongside a vehicle barrier to enter the MOD training area. For your safety, please keep to the main tracks and follow any advice notices.
Stay with the wide stone track leading you gently uphill and continue just until you reach the first crossroads with another major vehicle track (with a gnarled oak tree on your right). Turn right here and follow the vehicle track gently downhill. At a major junction of six paths, keep straight ahead on the track (ignoring two paths to the left and two to the right). Follow this, continuing downhill.
Go straight on at the next crossroads and you will emerge to a small car park. Keep ahead down the access lane to reach the junction with Guildford Road, with Curzon Indian Restaurant on your left. This building was formerly The Nightingale pub, sitting on the parish boundary between Ash and Normandy, and used to be a stopping point on the main coach route to Alton.
(1) Cross over Guildford Road with care and cross over the stile ahead to enter the playing fields. There are gaps in the adjacent hedgerow if you need these for your dog. (NOTE: If you need to avoid this stile, turn right along the pavement and then take the first side road on the left, Harpers Road. Follow this past the car park for the recreation ground and then pick up the directions from there.)
Cross the playing field diagonally, heading towards the row of white houses at the far side. Leave the field via the sleeper bridge alongside the vehicle barrier, turn right through the car park and you will emerge to the road, Harpers Road. Turn left along Harpers Road, taking care of any traffic.
Follow Harpers Road ahead, leading you past a property on your left and then a series of properties on your right which sit behind a pretty stream. Continue ahead beyond these properties, taking particular care as you approach the road junction on the bend. Turn right to cross the railway bridge and 60 metres later, ignore the signed byway on your left. Instead simply stay with the lane for about 300 metres then turn left into the small side road, Drovers Way. Follow this lane between properties and, about 20 metres beyond the last house on the left, turn right down the shallow steps to reach a T-junction with the old railway path.
(2) Turn right to join the old railway path and follow it for its full length, about 1.3 miles. The path follows the route of the London and South Western Railway line, which ran from Southampton to Waterloo. The line was opened in 1849, but then was closed to passengers in 1937 and closed to freight in 1960. The path is owned and managed by Guildford Borough Council as a footpath and bridleway. Some of the original railway sleepers have been used to construct benches along the path.
At the end of the railway, follow the main tarmac path as it swings right and then keep right on the path to reach a junction with a quiet lane. Turn left along this lane and follow it to the T-junction at the end. Cross over and turn left to reach a second T-junction. Turn right here and soon you are forced to swap to the left-hand pavement, passing The Cricketers pub on your left.
Immediately after the pub, turn left into the gravel access drive called The Moors. Follow this ahead, ignoring the footpath into the bowling green on your right. Pass through the squeeze gap to join the tarmac path and follow it through the underpass beneath the dual carriageway. At the far side, pass alongside the black vehicle barrier and, immediately afterwards, turn right through the staggered barrier to join the Blackwater Valley Path.
(3) Follow this stone path winding ahead with the River Blackwater on your left and the dual carriageway running to your right. Further along, you will emerge out to a junction with a side road. Turn left for a few paces to reach the T-junction with the A323 dual carriageway within an industrial area. Turn right (crossing over the side road) and 40 metres later (just before the roundabout) you will come to the official (but unsignalled) pedestrian crossing point for the A323.
Cross with extreme care, waiting for a suitable gap in the traffic. Keep ahead, passing through the gap alongside the wide metal gate to rejoin the Blackwater Valley Path. Stay with the path as it follows the line of the river and industrial units on your left.
Stay with the tarmac riverside path for some distance. Along the way you will be forced left over a wooden footbridge to join the left-hand river bank and, soon afterwards, back right over another footbridge to continue on the right-hand river bank once again. Eventually the path will lead you under a large bridge with blue railings and a curved base. This is the aqueduct which carries the Basingstoke Canal overhead. Pass under this, follow the path left over a footbridge and up a long slope to reach the Basingstoke Canal.
(4) Turn left along the towpath, following it over the aqueduct. Continue on the towpath with the canal running on your right. Through the trees on the opposite bank, you will have glimpses of the large Willow Park Lake, whilst through the trees on your left are the lakes of Lakeside Park Nature Reserve.
Construction of the Basingstoke Canal began in 1778. The 37 miles of canal from the Thames at Weybridge to Basingstoke took eight years to construct and included the building of 29 locks, 69 bridges plus two tunnels.
Stay with the canal towpath as it leads you under the rail bridge and continue to the next bridge. Pass under this and turn immediately left, up the tarmac slope to reach the junction with Vale Road. Turn left over the bridge and you will come to the mini-roundabout. Across to the left there is a parade of shops, including The Vale Cafe. Go straight ahead at the mini-roundabout and follow the pavement uphill, passing Ash Centre on your left. Further along you will reach the car park where the walk began on your left.(D/A)
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 282ft - Car park
1 : mi 0.67 - alt. 279ft - Guildford Road
2 : mi 1.13 - alt. 253ft - Old railway path
3 : mi 2.95 - alt. 233ft - Dual carriageway
4 : mi 4.45 - alt. 230ft - Towpath
D/A : mi 5.22 - alt. 282ft - Car park
The walk is relatively flat, with just a few gentle slopes. The majority of the paths are surfaced but some of the woodland paths can get very muddy after wet weather. There is one stile on route (which can be easily avoided if necessary) plus a flight of four shallow steps, some generous staggered barriers and generous squeeze gaps. There is a stretch of about 0.6 miles along a country lane without pavements so take care of traffic here. You will also need to cross the A323 dual carriageway at a designated but unsignalled crossing point, so extra care is needed at this point. Approximate time 2.5 hours.
There are a handful of options for refreshments on the way round. There is the Curzon Indian Restaurant (formerly The Nightingale pub) on Guildford Road (Waypoint 1), The Cricketers pub (bar snacks only) on Oxenden Road (just before Waypoint 3) plus The Vale Cafe and some shops in Ash towards the end of the walk. Ordnance Survey Map: Explorer 145 Guildford and Farnham. This walk follows public footpaths and bridleways which cross private and public land. Information is included for your interest, but please respect people's privacy, keep dogs under control and remember the Countryside Code.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
A circular walk exploring the canal towpath, riverside path, woodland, heath and small settlements around Frimley in Surrey. This walk is published through a collaboration with Surrey County Council.
A gently and easy circular walk starting from Puttenham Common, passing through farmland and woodland. The walk passes the Palladian mansion Puttenham Priory, and through the village of Puttenham along the foot of the Hog's Back ridge. This walk is published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
A pleasant walk from Pirbright village passing through fields, woodland and heathland. This walk is published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
An undulating circular walk from Tilford village passing close to The Sands village and the historic ruins of Waverley Abbey. From the top of Crooksbury Hill there are good views to the South Downs on a clear day. This walk is published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
An easy access walk around Elstead Common, enjoying sections of woodland, open areas of heath and several ponds and streams. This walk is published through a collaboration with the Surrey County Council.
A circular walk from Godalming Station in Surrey, exploring the valley of the River Wey, west of the town including the medieval stone bridge in Eashing. This walk is published through collaboration with Surrey County Council.
A circular walk from Godalming Station in Surrey, taking in the woodlands, lakes and old lanes to the south of the town, including a climb to the top of Hydon's Ball where you will be rewarded with magnificent views. This walk is published through collaboration with Surrey County Council.
This walk shows how easily the hustle and bustle of the town centre can be left behind. A few minutes walking are all that is required to reach the beautiful and tranquil riverside environment of the River Wey Valley. Allow 30 mins to an hour depending on walking speed. Parts of the route, especially the towpath, may be uneven in places and muddy in winter.
For more walks, use our search engine.
The GPS track and description are the property of the author.