Tilford Birds and Bridges

A picturesque walk taking in the Frensham Great and Little Ponds and the River Wey, discovering the medieval bridges at Tilford and enjoying an abundance of birds and wildlife. This walk is published through a collaboration with Surrey County Council.

Technical sheet
No. 7709297
A Frensham walk posted on 13/04/21 by Aurelie-21. Update : 13/04/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 3h35[?]
Distance Distance : 7.32mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 240ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 236ft
Highest point Highest point : 279ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 167ft
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Surrey Hills
Location Location : Frensham
Starting point Starting point : N 51.15875° / W 0.79303°
Download : -


(D/A) To begin the walk, make your way from the parking area to reach the timber-clad visitor centre which is home to the toilets and snack bar. Standing with your back to the snack bar window, walk at 1 o'clock through the picnic tables (away from the Great Pond which is beyond the building behind you) and join the section of boardwalks leading you into the heath. At the end of the boardwalk turn left for just a few metres to reach a junction with a wider sandy path. Turn right along this and at the fork, just a short way along, take the left-hand branch (straight on) which leads you uphill into the trees. Towards the top turn left at a staggered T-junction, continuing on the narrow path between sections of heather. You will emerge out to a T-junction with a wide mown track, turn right along this. Stay with this mown track as it bears right and right again to reach a T-junction with a bridleway (marked with a blue arrow on a waymarker post). Turn left onto the bridleway and keep right at the fork, still following the blue arrow of the bridleway. Further along, the bridleway descends steadily and leads you to a junction with the main road, the A287 (with the side road called Bacon Lane just to your left).

(1) Cross over the main A287 with care and take the narrow path directly ahead leading you into woodland. This narrow path leads you through the trees to reach a crossroads with a wider woodland path. Turn left along this and, at the top of the small rise, you will come to a crossroads (marked with a waymarker post with blue arrows). Turn right and follow this path with a fence running to your left. Keep left at the fork, following the path running closest to this fence. At the end, you will come to a car park ahead. Turn left and follow the path between the fence on your left and the car park on your right. The path runs ahead and then swings right to reach a junction with the road. Cross over and join the bridleway which continues ahead. Follow this path running with fenced fields on your left and then leading you past a second car park across to your right. You will emerge to a T-junction with a vehicle track. Turn left along this and, at the bottom of the slope, you will pass Keeper's Cottage on your left. Take the narrow path ahead which leads you to a footbridge over the River Wey.

(2) Cross the footbridge and follow the path ahead leading you to the buildings of Pierrepont Farm. This farm is run as a countryside restoration scheme and is home to plenty of wildlife. We were lucky enough to see a barn owl flying across the fields so keep your eyes peeled. Follow the track which bears left (passing the main farm building on your right) to reach a row of barns directly ahead. Turn right within this courtyard and then bear right again along the vehicle track.

Follow this bridleway track ahead, with fenced grass fields running to your left. At the end of these fields, keep directly ahead on the bridleway into woodland (ignoring the kissing gate to your left). The bridleway continues as a wide fenced grass track, leading you through a large section of heathland, known as Tankersford Common.

Beyond the common, simply keep ahead on the fenced path which leads you through woodland and then between garden fences. Pass Reeds Stables on your right and stay with the access track which bears right and leads you steadily uphill to a junction with The Reeds Road.

(3) Cross over with care and take the bridleway directly ahead. Just 15 metres along, you will come to a waymarker post marking a junction. At this point, should you wish, you could make a detour to visit the Rural Life Centre. The centre is a country life museum spread across several barns, buildings and fields all brimming with artefacts. The museum has an entrance fee, is dog-friendly and also has a cafe, although entry into the museum is not payable just to use the cafe. If you wish to visit, turn left at this junction and you will find the centre about 600 metres along The Reeds Road.

For the main route, simply go straight ahead on the woodland bridleway. As you pass a clearing in the trees on your right, you will have beautiful views to the east across the pastures of Tilford House Farm and beyond. Further along, a wire fence begins on your left. Simply keep to the main bridleway which follows the line of this fence. At a fork in the path (where the fence on your left turns away to the left) take the right-hand branch (leading you straight on). This path branch leads you down to a junction with Tilford Road.

Cross over with care and walk ahead along the side road, Sheephatch Lane, taking care of any traffic. About 300 metres along, ignore the first footpath (signed over a stile to your right). Instead, continue along the lane which takes you past The Mill House on your left and then crosses the River Wey via a road bridge.

(4) Just a few metres beyond the river bridge, turn right onto the signed public bridleway which leads you into woodland. This sunken path leads you steadily uphill and then levels off with fenced hillside fields on your left. Further along you will come to a crossroads with a vehicle track. Go straight ahead to continue on the bridleway.

The bridleway becomes a byway (marked with a red arrow), a vehicle track with a bank and fence on the left. The first section of this track can be very muddy, but you will find a path running along the bank on your left should you need it. As you emerge from the woodland you will pass the imposing large white Tilhill House on your left.

100 metres later fork right, leaving the vehicle track to join the signed public bridleway. Across to your right you will see the River Wey winding through the valley bottom. At the end of the bridleway you will emerge to a T-junction with the street in Tilford village. (The village shop is 30 metres to your left). Turn right and follow the pavement as it leads you over the medieval bridge across the River Wey to reach the village green. The bridges in Tilford are believed to have been built by the monks of Waverley Abbey in the 1230s.

(5) Keep straight ahead, passing The Barley Mow pub on your right and the village green on your left. In the summer months you may be lucky enough to catch a game of cricket here. The black and white building across to the left is the Tilford Institute. Designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1893, it is used as the cricket pavilion and as the stage for the Tilford Players.

At the far end of the green, cross over the road to reach the pavement opposite (alongside another bridge). Turn left (away from the bridge) and then immediately right to join the gravel driveway for The Malt House. Once through the first gateway, keep left and then follow the footpath which swings right between hedgerows. Further along, the path swings left, immediately alongside the River Wey on your right.

Simply stay on the main path along the valley bottom, with the River Wey meandering alongside. This section of woodland has a particularly dense population of bluebells, which create a blue carpet in the late spring. Within the river, keep your eyes peeled for a flash of blue as kingfishers patrol their territories. Grey wagtails, easily recognisable by their grey back and lemon underside, are often seen dabbling in the mud in search of aquatic insect larvae.

Further along, the path leads you through a gate and emerges to a junction with a vehicle lane. Turn right along this lane, following it as it bears left. The lane leads you past the buildings of Meadow End Farm on your right.

(6) Just after the farmhouse (and where the track swings left), go straight ahead through a small gate to join a footpath running between fenced pastures. You are likely to see both sheep and pigs in these pastures. At the end of the path, pass through the kissing gate ahead to reach a junction with a vehicle track.

Turn right along the track and follow it through the woodland. At the ford, where a stream crosses the track, you will find a footbridge just to your left which allows you to cross the water without getting your feet wet. Continue straight ahead to the end of the track where it meets a T-junction with the road, Priory Lane.

Turn sharp left along this lane, Priory Lane, for about 100 metres. Immediately before an unmade track (signed Private Road) on your right, turn sharp right through the gap in the low wooden barrier. A few paces in you will reach a fork. Take the right-hand branch and follow this to reach a noticeboard and a white pyramid-shaped cairn between the two parking areas for Frensham Little Pond.

(7) Turn left heading towards the smaller car park and brick buildings and, before you reach these, turn right to join the path leading you uphill through the centre of the pine woodland. Through the trees to your left you will be able to see the water of Frensham Little Pond. Simply keep ahead on the main woodland track until you reach a crossroads at the brow of the rise (with a small marker post with orange arrow on your right). Turn right here and follow this path with an open area of heather on your left. At the fork, keep left and follow the path down the slope to a five-way junction. Take the path at between 1 and 2 o'clock, which climbs steadily leading you through a row of low wooden bollards to reach a major crossroads. Go straight ahead, passing between two low vehicle barriers to join the wide sandy track running through the heath. Just before the wide track swings right, fork left to join a narrower path climbing through the heather. At the top of the slope you will come to a bench on your right. This is the perfect spot to turn round and enjoy the views that have opened up across the Little Pond and the heath. Both this Little Pond and the Great Pond (at the visitor centre) were created by the Bishop of Winchester in the 1200s and provided the main fish supply to Farnham Castle when the Bishop was in residence. Today, Frensham Common is valued for recreation and nature conservation.

(8) Continue on the path for about 70 metres to reach a T-junction with a wide level track. Turn left along this. On a clear day, from this high ridge you will have views across Little Pond to your left and glimpses of Great Pond across to your right.

Ignore the first wide path to your left and, a little further along, keep your eyes peeled for a subtle junction of paths (with a waymarker post with blue arrows on the right). Turn right here to join the sandy bridleway leading you downhill. Keep straight ahead to pass through a gate and reach a junction with the main road, the A287.

Cross over the road with care and walk ahead, passing a low vehicle barrier, to join the signed bridleway. Follow this main wide sandy bridleway leading you steadily uphill to reach a fork. Bear left and follow this next sandy track gently downhill. Look out for a small wooden post on the left which marks the start of a narrow footpath branching to the left (marked with a no cycling symbol). Fork left to join this narrow sandy footpath (leaving the wide bridleway) and follow it through gorse bushes and then woodland. Keep ahead, ignoring any side paths, and you will emerge back to the picnic area alongside the visitor centre where the walk began.(D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 217ft - Parking area
1 : mi 0.66 - alt. 236ft - A287
2 : mi 1.63 - alt. 187ft - Footbridge
3 : mi 2.68 - alt. 262ft - The Reeds Road
4 : mi 3.52 - alt. 194ft - River bridge
5 : mi 4.34 - alt. 174ft - The Barley Mow pub
6 : mi 5.1 - alt. 203ft - Meadow End Farm
7 : mi 5.84 - alt. 220ft - Grange Road
8 : mi 6.46 - alt. 276ft - T-junction
D/A : mi 7.32 - alt. 217ft - Parking area

Useful Information

As of June 01, 2020, users have reported that one of the bridges is closed, but it’s easy to cross.

The walk has several steady climbs and descents throughout. The paths through the woodlands can get quite muddy after wet weather so good boots are recommended. Some of the paths are fairly narrow, there are no stiles on route but you will need to negotiate a few single gates, some footbridges and one kissing gate. There is one short section of road walking and a few road crossings that require care. All the paths are enclosed from adjacent fields so you will not be sharing the paths with any livestock. Allow 4 hours.

There are public toilets at the Frensham Ponds Visitor Centre at the start of the walk. If you are looking for refreshments, the visitor centre has a snack bar, the Rural Life Centre (about 600m from waypoint 3) has a cafe and Tilford Village (4.5 miles into the walk at waypoint 5) has a village stores and The Barley Mow pub. 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.

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