A winter wander

Keen to shake off the lethargy still clinging on after a predictably food-filled Christmas, Kirst and I hopped on a train to Guildford yesterday. The plan: a picturesque walk to Chilworth, a village a few miles south east of the town. Once you’re there, the excellent Percy Arms is on hand to cancel out any health benefits the last couple of hours have earned you, so it’s an excellent way to spend a Saturday.

To GuildfordClimbing out of Guildford via an improbably steep residential road, we soon came to Pewsey Down, a sandy ridge on the North Downs. We’ve done this walk before – a couple of years ago now – when we had the pleasure of seeing a photogenic highland cow, sadly absent on this occasion. Now his stomping ground stood empty, save for the odd dog walker.

Walkies

Pewsey DownIt’s a pretty spot nonetheless. I love these steep little valleys and gulleys. Though part of the North Downs, it’s very reminiscent of the South Downs near where I grew up. Pretty! Beyond the valley here though, the view turns starker; a long path threads between brutalised fields, the acres of spiky stalks waiting for warmer days. Still, before long we reached more photogenic woods – all the more atmospheric for neighbouring such spartan ground.

Spartan

Dark, dark wood

Standing out

Bark

In the clearingAs we walked, the path led us back up, ultimately bringing us to St Martha’s Hill. The eponymous church stands on the summit of another ridge, looking rather sombre in January. I imagine it’s beautiful up here in summer; we’ll have to revisit sometime.

St Martha on the hill

St Martha's HillFrom here it’s all the way down to Chilworth. Good job too, tummies were starting  to rumble. We made our way down sandy slopes into the valley below.

Sandy path

Towards ChilworthAfter a few fields, the walk springs one more change of scenery, through a wood that seemingly takes style tips straight from Tim Burton.

MurkyChilling stuff. But the darkest moment comes before the sunrise, as they say. Make it through the spooky wood and you’re in Chilworth, and the welcoming boozer that is The Percy Arms. The food here is great, as is the wine. Cheers!

Cheers

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