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.
Climbing 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.
It’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.
As 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.
Chilling 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!