Home » Walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs Way

Walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs Way

by zoe tehrani

Last Summer I decided that I would walk the length of the North Downs Way. I did one section and then got distracted by other walks. The North Downs Way got buried amongst my list of things to do. Well, I have finally decided to get on and do it. The section I chose to walk today (actually last weekend) was from Farnham to Guildford (as the title suggests).

Way back when I first decided to do the trail, I had no particular structure in mind, but rather I would randomly pick sections based on my mood. Well, I have decided to change tactics and do it all in order, which is what brings me to Farnham. Farnham being the start of the North Downs Way. 

What was the walk from Farnham to Guildford like?

It was a mix really. During the start of the walk, I didn’t think I would enjoy it at all (I explain more later). However, as I got on, it got more pleasant and quite lovely at times. 

During the walk from Farnham to Guildford, you are never that far away from civilisation and the sound of the road is always there. I say always, but it’s not as bad as it seems. Yes, sometimes the road noise was extreme, but other times it was a faint hum in the distance. 

The route itself is characterised by trees and woodland mostly, with some open fields, a couple of golf courses, and of course, the roads.

There are some very small uphill sections, but nothing that would label this walk as challenging.

Is the walk from Farnham to Guildford easy to follow?

Yes, yes, yes. In fact, as I was walking the trail I thought about how I would tell you that you don’t need a map at all. It is (almost) very well signposted. I say almost because my dreams of telling you that you don’t need a map were shattered when I hit a junction which wasn’t signposted.

All in all, there were only 3 sections where signage was missing, but I will tell you where they are when I go on to describe the walk from Farnham to Guildford. 

North Downs Way signpost on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
North Downs Way signage on a wood stump on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
A donkey signpost pointing the direction of the North Downs way at the start of the walk from Farnham to Guildford.

As most of the route is so well signposted, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the signage was there, but I just missed it because it was hidden.

Logistics for the walk from Farnham to Guildford

  • Start: Farnham 
  • Finish: Guildford
  • How to get there: Both towns have train stations with direct trains to and from London. London Waterloo to Farnham is a 1 hour journey and there are two direct trains an hour  At the time of writing, there are no direct trains from London on Sunday and the journey takes 1h 40min. So don’t go on Sunday. Guildford to London Waterloo takes 34min-1h depending on the train. Sundays it can take slightly longer. You will need to buy a single for each journey as they follow different routes. 
  • Distance: 11.3 miles
  • Time: 4h 30min. No lunch stops but did pause a lot for photos.
  • Elevation: Highest point 405ft. Total elevation gain 1480ft.
  • Terrain: Road, dirt trails, some muddy patches. 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time of year: I did this one in Winter.

Map for the walk from Farnham to Guildford 

Click on the box in the top right corner to open in your maps.

– More walking ideas for the North Downs will be at the end –

How to walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs Way

If you have arrived in Farnham by train from the North, you will need to cross over the rail tracks. As there is a train in the station, you may find that the barriers are down if you go onto the road, so it will be quicker to use the bridge in the station to get over the tracks.

Following the road towards town, you will see a small trail leading off it to the right. Ignore that and walk a bit further down to the main road junction.

The start of the North Downs Way

Take a right at the main road and you will be hit bang in the face with the big North Downs Way signage marking the official start point.

North Downs Way signage marking the start of the walk from Farnham to Guildford.

Looking at it, I felt sort of excited at the journey ahead. I almost had the desire to walk the whole thing in one go. I say almost because I really don’t. The whole route is very easily accessible from where I live that it didn’t seem worth it to take annual leave to complete. I need to save my days off work for places further away.   

The busy road

Following the direction of the sign, you will be walking alongside the main road for a bit. Even when you walk onto a trail at the next signage, you will still be walking alongside the road.

It’s very loud.

At this point, my excitement faded and I decided I wouldn’t like this walk. Having studied the map beforehand, I knew that the walk from Farnham to Guildford was going to be a bit more suburban than wilderness, but the reality of that didn’t really sink in until I got there.

A trail with hedges and trees on the right side ant the start of the walk from Farnham to Guildord.

I think it looks alright from the photos, but what you can’t see is the noise.

Another reason why I didn’t think I would enjoy this walk is because I had trapped wind. I was feeling all crampy and couldn’t stand up straight properly. My only hope was that at some point along the walk, it would make it’s way out.

Things start to get better

The trail then approaches a lovely home. Yes, the road noise is still there, but the house is a nice distraction. A couple of cute little dogs were running around as their owner came out of the house to take them for a walk. 

North Downs Way signage sticking out of the bushes with a cute house partially in frame on the left.
A trail running along side a house on the right with a strip of green and river to the left.

I thought about how I could almost live here. If it wasn’t for that road.

Almost like the New Forest….but not.

The trail then leads under a bridge and finally away from that damn road. 

The trail running through a tunnel under a bridge. there is a woman and her dog next to the tunnel.

My last 8 walks have been in the New Forest, so it was fresh on my mind. In fact, when deciding what walk to do today, my first thought was to head to the South Downs Way (another long distance trail on my list) for this very reason. The fact that I had walked so much in woodland recently, I wanted to mix it up and walk in open fields with a sea view. 

However, seeing as it is winter with much shorter days, it made more sense to focus on walks that don’t take as long to get to. Don’t want to waste daylight hours travelling. 

Anyway, back to the point I was getting to. The trail leads past lots of holly bushes and leafless trees and tree tunnels. It reminded me of the New Forest, only not as good. The poor man’s version of the New Forest.

A tree tunnel on the walk from Farnham to Guildford. The branches of the trees are leafless. The ground is a mix of muddy and covered in fallen leaves.

Well, if you haven’t frequented forests then you won’t have anything to compare it to so actually this would be rather lovely. 

Another road

The trail then leads onto road again, but much less busy than the last road. Take a left here and at the next junction is the first place where the signage is missing (or I just didn’t see it). Go left onto Moor Park Lane.

A road junction with lots of green bushes.
Take a left down here.

Follow this road as it leads you to your first uphill. You need to be a bit careful along here as it gets quite dark under the tree cover and there is no pavement to walk on.

A road leading under a tree tunnel on the Farnham to Guildford walk.

The posh area

At the top, everything seems a bit more fancy and well kept. I imagined this is where the rich people in the area live. I realise now, that I only took a photo of the road. So you have to imagine.

A road leading through a residential area. The front lawns are well manicured. There are trimmed bushes and a few big trees with leafless branches.

Be careful here though. I got distracted and almost missed the trail turning. Pretty much just at the top of the hill you walked up, the trail leads off to the left. So you don’t actually walk along this road very far.

A first trail leading between hedges on the Farnham to Guildford walk.
The trail goes along here.

Is it really winter?

As the trail leads to an opening next to a field, I really notice the blue of the sky. Everything suddenly got a lot brighter and I started to get a bit sweaty. It definitely didn’t feel like winter anymore. I would go as far as to say it felt like spring was coming….it’s February.  

A dirt trail running through grass with a field on the right and leafless bushes on the left.

Thinking about it, it doesn’t feel like winter really happened this year. I mean, it rained a lot. I’m gonna say it rained more than it ever has. It has been very grey. But it never really got that cold. Maybe for a few days things froze a little, but only for a few days.

Interesting.

More woodland

The trail then leads into Runfold Wood nature reserve. Basically lots of trees.

Woodland with red leaves on the ground on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
A couple of tree stumps surrounded by holly bushes and a ground covered in red leaves.
North Downs Way sign post surrounded by trees and a ground covered in red leaves.

Once you reach the road, you will be at the second point where the signage is missing. I mean, it’s there, but only useful if you are walking in the opposite direction, Guildford to Farnham. 

North Downs Way signpost next to a road junction.
I could only see signage for the direction I came in.

I figured out (and by that I mean I looked at a map) which way was next.

If you take a left at this road then you should at some point see the North Downs Way signage and trail on the right.

Which then takes you past more bushes until you reach….another road.

Be careful on this road. Whilst there weren’t many cars going along it, the ones that did, did so fast.

Welcome to the Sands

You see these welcome signs whenever you enter a new village along the road. I always know or know of the village which I am entering.

The main road with a big green hedge on the left and a sign welcoming you to the sands on the right.

Not this time. I have never heard of the Sands. Sounds kind of exotic, or is that too obvious?

As soon as I entered the Sands, the first thing I noticed was the road. The tarmac looked fresh and neat. It was like I was entering an important place….and then it sort of abruptly ended and went back to old weathered tarmac. 

That must have been a bad section of road that had to be replaced. 

The golf club part 1

After passing by a random steam train you will see your first golf club of the day. Farnham golf club.

A steam train on the side of the road on display.
The main road leading past the Farnham gold club building on the left, on the walk from Guildford.
The main road, with a green and hedge on the right. There is a sign saying 'beware, golfers crossing road'. The sky is blue with a few clouds.

Just passed the main building, the signage will point you left and past the sign telling you to beware of the golfers.

Beware.

I found this bit of the walking interesting in that you don’t walk through the golf course which is what usually seems to happen when walking in England. This might actually be the first time I have been guided around it. 

Maybe because it is a posh golf course. I don’t know if it’s posh. I just made that up.

So continuing on along the road and past this lovely post box, the trail leads off the road over a mini bridge on the right.

A brick post box under tree cover, on a ground covered on leaves on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.

As I followed the trail as it met the gold course again, I was struck by how luminous the green was. I almost felt like I wanted to tone it down in editing, but actually, it really was this bright. So I left it as is. 

The bright green golf course of Farnham golf club, on the walk from Guildford. There are trees in the distance and a couple of golfers and their gold bags on the green.
A small dirt trail with a hedge on the left and wooden fence on the right. The green of Farnham golf course can be seen through the fence.

I think it was partly the contrast of being slightly in the shade next to the open green with the sun shining down on it.

More of the same

Next, there is a bit more woods, a couple of bush/tree tunnels, a road, and a property that wants you to know it is protected by loose guard dogs.

A dirt trail leading through a tree tunnel on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
A wooden fence behind a metal fence with a sign warning of guard dogs.

I noticed a hole dug under part of the fence. As if the dog had dug it to get out and attack. So I hurried on past. There were lots of angry dogs on the last walk I did. I was even chased by one. 

Not fun.

Out of the woods and out with the wind

The trail then runs alongside open fields and crops. The view was super pretty the way the sun was shining and the woodland over the other side. This is more me.

A view through branches to the crops on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
North Downs Way signage on a wooden post next to a tree covered in leaves. There is crop land to the right.

And then you are out. Out of the woods and in the open air surrounded by cropland. 

The trail running next to the crop land. The sky is bright blue.
Tire tracks in the mud.
A green grass trail running through the muddy fields, leading the the trees on the other end.

When you reach a point where this green trail runs off the trail you are on, don’t go down it. Keep going straight.

Oh and this is where my wind came out. Man, I felt so much better after this.

Back in the woods

Once at the other side you will hit another road with the trail continuing again opposite and into more woodland.

I noticed a pretty tree with orange/peach coloured leaves, like the ones I saw in the New Forest. I started photographing it. A couple of elderly gentlemen passing by, asked me what I was looking at. I told them how I thought the tree was lovely, and we spoke briefly about it before they continued on their way.

A tree with peach/orange coloured leaves on the walk from Farnham to Guildford.

There is a small section taking you out into the open again with some lovely views, before making your way down and into more woods.

Standing at the top of a hill looking down to a group of green trees. The sky is blue with white clouds.

More woods and the half way point on the walk from Farnham to Guildford 

Next, it’s more of the same woodiness you will have experienced so far. 

I was getting pretty tired of the woods at this point. The sky was lovely and bright and blue. Something we haven’t seen much of for a while here in England and I wanted to be out in the middle of it.

I am after all a bit of a sun worshipper. 

The trail leading through a tree tunnel when walking from Farnham to Guildford.
A dirt trail with hedges and bushes on either side and tree branches hanging over there top of it. There is a glimpse of green field and a house in the distance.

But this next view was super pretty. I wouldn’t get this if I wasn’t in the woods. 

A house in the distance framed by the trunks of two trees whilst walking from Farnham to Guildford. Behind the trees and in front of the house is a well kept bright green Lawn.

Past the cute house with well manicured lawn, the view opens up to the left. Ah, this is me again. 

Looking through the branches of the trees on the walk from Farnham to Guildford. There is a view out to the green hills and a white house on top of the hill in the distance.

A bit of mud

It’s along this bit that the first bit of mud happens. Well, I can tell you now, after the New Forest it will really take a lot for me to consider a place very muddy. This mud was child’s play in comparison.  I was so experienced by now in mud navigation that I was able to pass without getting my white plimsolls dirty.

Yes. I was wearing white plimsolls for this walk. Don’t ask.

Oh, and I didn’t get a good photo of the muddy bit so you will have to imagine.

Through another tree tunnel and passed the horseshoe bend (I love a good tree tunnel and horseshoe bend) you will reach the village of Puttenham.

A road winding through a tree/bush tunnel on the Farnham to Guildford walk.
A horse shoe bend with North Downs Way signage in the greenery in the bend.

Puttenham

You will follow the road through Puttenham as it curves around, past the Good Intent Pub, and at the main road, you may get to see some horses in the field opposite. 

A road leading through the residential area of Puttenham on the walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs way.
A brown and white horse and a brown horse standing in a field on the other side of a fence.

As I was photographing them, one of them walked over in my direction. I thought how lovely this was, that the horse liked me, but then I realised her/his owners had arrived and he/she was walking to them.

Never mind.

At this main road, you take a right and then a left at the hydro pool sign. There is also signage for the North Downs Way but I was more interested in the hydro pool sign with a dog on it. 

Signage pointing to the North Downs Way, a hydro pool, and a golf club.

I absolute love hydrotherapy, it’s the best thing I did for my hips after surgery. But this sign had a dog on it. Does this mean it’s hydrotherapy…..for dogs?

I looked it up when I got home and it is indeed dog hydrotherapy. This makes me so happy. Dog hydrotherapy.

If I had a dog, and he got injured, I’d have him all over this hydrotherapy.

The golf course part 2

You will then reach your second and last golf club of the day, Puttenham golf club. Just like the first one, you don’t walk on the green, but rather you are guided through it along the road.

I saw this sign on a tree and at first thought it said the 10th tree. 10th tree? The trees are numbered? 

A white sign stuck on a tree pointing to the 10th tee.

In my defence, the two words are almost identical and the sign was on a tree. Anyway, I can tell you now that the 10th tee is a long way away. 

All along this road, those 10th tee signs kept popping up. I became more interested in where this 10th tee was. 

the dirt trail running alongside a white sign stuck on a tree pointing to the 10th tee.

I didn’t see the 10th tee, but the signs do eventually stop.

Once there are no more 10th tee signs, you will next walk past some cute houses and maybe some tractors.

A cream and red house behind a fence, with a shed on the left, with a backdrop of trees. The sky is blue with white clouds.
A first trail with a fence on the left and tractors parked up ahead. There is North Downs Way signage of the right.
A cute house surrounded by green and trees on the walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs Way.

The final missing signage

The trail will lead you to a road with a couple of bridges to the right. Walk under the bridges and keep following this road right to the end.

The road leading under two bridges.
Walking through a tunnel with a view to trees and bushes and a blue sky through the tunnel.

Here you will reach the third and final point where the signage is missing. There is signage directly opposite, but none for the North Downs Way.

A road with bushes and trees either side. The road leads to a car park on the other end. There is signage for a gallery on the left.
Walk along here and take a right before those cars up ahead.

You need to now go left and then right just before the carpark. 

Horse party

The trail continues gently uphill. I noticed up ahead a girl on the trail looking into a field on the right, taking photos. From here I couldn’t see the field yet, and I was wondering what she was looking at.

As I walked past the last trees and got a view into the field I literally jumped back. I was not expecting a party of horses.

A group of horses in a field on the other side of a wooden fence. The sky is blue with white clouds.

These weren’t the only horses. Further along the trail, there was a whole load more in a field to the left.

A group of horses in a field with green hills in the background.

More mud

The trail then leads under tree cover again and a long stretch of mud. I tried my best here but I was not successful at keeping my white shoes white.

A muddy trail under tree cover towards the end of the walk from Farnham to Guildford. There is a person walking at the end of the trail.

I was trying to keep to the edge but would slide my way down into it. Meanwhile, that girl walked on by in her sensible hiking shoes.

Reaching Guildford 

The remainder of the walk is a mix of trees and open fields. You get a good view of Guildford before your arrival there.

A small dirt trail surrounded by trees and a ground of leaves.
The shed and vehicles belonging to a farm. There is a view of a field in the background. The sky is blue.
North Downs Way signage towards the end of the walk from Farnham to Guildford.
A green patch of land with lots of houses and trees on the other side on the walk into Guilford.

The end of the walk from Farnham to Guildford

The trail turns to road, and at the very end of the road is where this part of the walk ends.

The main road with houses on the left and at the end of the road in Guildford.
The finish is at that white house at the end.

If you want to continue onto the next section, you take a right here and the signage will be ahead on the left. Alternatively, to get to Guildford train station you go left. 

From here it’s about a 10-15min walk to the station. At the station, there are toilets and places to get food if you desire. 

More walks in the North Downs

Not too far from here you could try the Box Hill Stepping stones walk. At 4 miles in length, It’s short, however it has some serious hills.

Starting from Guidlford, I would highly recommend the circular walk to St Martha’s Hill and Newlands Corner. It’s about 11 miles long, and has fantastic views.

Sticking with the North Downs Way, you have the section after this, Guildford to Westhumble. Just under 15miles long and dominated by woodland. You will also walk via St Martha’s Hill and Newlands Corner.

Continuing on, you then have stage 3 of the North Downs Way, Westhumble to Merstham. 11 miles. A mix of woodland and views. A good chunk of it, and by that I mean most of it, runs near to a road.

Down by the coast, you have the last section of the North Downs Way, Folkestone to Dover. Technically the start from Folkestone isn’t part of the trail, but you join the North Downs Way about 1.5 miles in. I started from Folkestone because it has a train station.

Over the coming months, I will be writing a lot more about it, but for now, you can get more North Downs walking ideas from the National Trails website.

Pin it for later: How to walk from Farnham to Guildford along the North Downs Way

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4 comments

Bunny February 7, 2020 - 10:27 am

Super photos, what a nice walk

Reply
zoe tehrani February 12, 2020 - 5:49 am

Yes it was indeed 🙂

Reply
Dasha Hugg November 5, 2020 - 2:17 pm

Awesome trip and your photos!!! Thank you !

Reply
zoe tehrani November 20, 2020 - 8:09 am

Thank you very much 🙂

Reply

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