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Weekend Walk – Waggoners Wells and Ludshott Common

Lakes strung like a necklace; a glistening heath strewn with crimson toadstools in autumn; majestic limes and maples; three historic villages. There is no other walk quite like this quiet and peaceful wander. Waggoners Wells is a famous beauty spot, popular with weekend families but large enough to absorb them all, whilst Ludshott Common is one of the largest areas of heathland in the South East. Dogs are welcome as nearly all the stiles have a generous gap except for one just before Bramshott but Humphrey and I managed it when we did this lovely walk in April. This walk is taken from www.fancyfreewalks.org where the walk can be downloaded with full mapping.

1. Leave from the back of the car park, past the noticeboard on a broad sandy track. In 30m, you reach the heath by a rustic bench with terrific views south to Butser Hill (with the aerial) and beyond. Cross straight over the crossing track to another sandy track. In 20m, at a fork of two grassy paths, choose the right fork. In less than 100m, at another fork, take the right fork (really straight on). In autumn the red toadstools (fly agaric) are found everywhere on the heath and you should see them aplenty. The path descends to a crossing path. Turn left here, slightly downhill, avoiding the path ahead that goes up a slope. Keep to the fairly straight path, avoiding all turnings off. Parallel on the right you may observe an overgrown sunken, possibly ancient, track. The path ends at a T-junction. Turn right at the T-junction and ignore a wide path immediately left. In 15m, fork left on a narrow level sandy path, thus leaving the main path that carries on uphill. You pass some beautiful occasional pine trees and reach a junction of paths by a marker post. Go straight ahead here over a crossing path. In 20m, fork left, following the orange byway arrow, thus avoiding a rather steep path up a slope on the right. In 40m, turn left on a path that goes over a remnant of an old bridge or dam.

2. In 20m, at a grassy T-junction, turn right. In 10m, fork left, following some overhead wires uphill. In 80m, you reach a blue-topped post, one of several, indicating a rider’s path. Here fork left away from the wires on a wide path through the woods. Stay on the main level path, avoiding minor side paths, until you reach another blue-topped post. Immediately veer left on a path coming from the right and, in 10m, turn right on a path uphill, thus regaining your original direction. As the path curves right, a narrow path joins from the left. The path ends at a T-junction with a very wide bridleway. You have reached the far edge of the Common. Turn right on the bridleway. This patch is often muddy, but you really need not worry because in just a few metres the mud will become more manageable. You have meadows on the left and soon on the right too. Nearly 500m after joining this path, you come to a major fork.

3. Turn right at the fork and continue until you join a lane (Gentles Lane) coming from the left. Follow the road past High Hurlands Home and, just after Hurlands itself, fork left on a narrow path through hollies and turn left at a T-junction on a bridleway. Follow the track, first past entrances to Harambee and other properties, then past meadows and a line of poplars and finally down to a road by Tilburys with its well-groomed hedge. Turn left on the road, going past oast houses on your right. Oast houses, used for drying hops, are mainly associated with Kent, but they do in fact appear in other home counties and as far north as Worcestershire. At a road junction, veer right in the direction Whitehill, Liphook. Traverse the deceptively sleepy village of Passfield, passing The Old Forge, The Old Cricketers and other witnesses to rural life.

4. Just before a bridge visible ahead, turn left on a bridleway (a sign says No Fishing). On your right is one of a line of lakes and water meadows that are a feature of this area. (Don’t worry about the sign that says Private Property Keep Out: it refers to the water meadows, not the bridleway.) At a 4-way fingerpost by a house, keep straight on on a track. (As a small diversion, it is worth turning right a few paces down to the waterside where the water fowl, mallards, swans and coots, can be observed close up.) Over on your right are the fine buildings of Passfield Manor. At the end of the track, by a fence, turn sharp right on a track, crossing the Wey South via an old bridge and passing through woodland. The track eventually joins a drive and meets a lane. Turn right to come almost immediately to a T-junction with a main road.

5. Go straight over the main road, a fraction right, onto a footpath by a National Trust sign for Passfield Common. In just over 100m, turn right before an oak tree across the luminous centre of the common. On the other side, you reach a tree line. Fork left here on a narrow path that skirts the trees and finally leads out to the hamlet of Conford. Turn left through the hamlet, passing the village hall (the old school). When the lane bends right after the last house, leave it by continuing straight ahead on a tarmac bridleway with the elegant stone Conford House up on your left. Ignore a footpath right at a fingerpost. Once again, you have a long lake and water meadows on your right. You pass Conford Park Barn, about 250 years old, usually with fluttering white doves. The bridleway leads through an iron gateway and ends at a tarmac drive. Turn left here, immediately meeting a main road, the B3004. Turn right on the road.

6. Go past houses, and continue to a right bend. Cross the road carefully and turn left on a footpath by a metal gate beside fields. After the first field on the right, turn right along its other edge. At the other side, officially, the path goes over an awkward stile by a metal gate into the farmyard of Bramshott Vale Farm. However, most walkers veer right and left over the grass in front of a barn to avoid the stile. Keep ahead on a concrete track, ignoring a footpath left. After a brick shed, go half-left across the grass, as signed, to meet a wonderful lime avenue. Cross the avenue and negotiate a stile [now made awkward by a fence across it], the corner of a meadow, another stile and another meadow that is often the home to highland cattle and shetland ponies. After a metal gate, turn right on a drive (first glancing left to view the impressive house). Go over a bridge across a lively stream, go through a metal swing-gate and turn left on a lane. After a short distance, you meet a minor road, Church Lane. Turn right here. This deeply sunken lane takes you to steps where you can turn right up to the churchyard of Bramshott Church of St Mary the Virgin. Leaving Bramshott church on the right, turn left at the T-junction onto Rectory Lane and stay on this lane as it bends right, ignoring all minor lanes off.

7. Stay on this deeply sunken quiet lane for some distance. In about 900m, you pass the gatehouse of Downlands House. 250m further, you reach a T-junction. Turn left. In about 500m, the lane ends at a car park. Go straight on through a metal barrier, keeping to the left side, on a woodland path downhill. Stay on the main, rather uneven, path. At the bottom of the hill, keep to the left of a steep slope. A rather muddy path takes you all the way down to the waterside where there is an MoD sign and a bridge. There are several attractive walks around Waggoners Wells and you may prefer to find your own way and diverge from the text. Don’t cross the bridge but keep right and walk parallel to the stream on your left, soon reaching the first lake. Stay on the right bank and, after a section of woodland, reach the second lake. After more woodland, you reach the third lake, which has an especially picturesque wooden bridge over the sluice. Stay on the right bank, soon to pass a noticeboard and, up on the right, a car park .

8. On meeting a tarmac lane coming from the car park, turn left on it and cross a ford, or the footbridge beside it. Just 10m after the ford, turn left on a marked path and immediately fork right uphill on a bridleway, going past a stone memorial on your left. After a modest climb, the path flattens out and, in about 100m, goes over a crossing path. In about another 200m, the path goes under wires and, in a further 80m, meets a junction with a crossing track. Turn right on the crossing track, ignoring the path almost opposite. Soon another track joins from the left. In another 60m, there is a wide gap in the birches lining the track on your left. Turn left here on a narrow grassy path that goes across an open area covered with tiny silver birch saplings. Another narrow path joins from the right. You come to a junction of wide paths. Cross over the first path but turn right on the second path. You are now on a high plain with views left to the Hampshire hills. The path descends to a T-junction. Turn right here.

9. Very shortly after, the path forks. Take the left-hand fork. The path curves left uphill. Stay next to the trees on your right, avoiding all turnings off. The path passes close to a bench seat and runs downhill for a bit passing minor paths off to the left and right until you come to a waymarker on the right. Immediately after it there is some broken down fencing. Immediately after the fencing, and just as the path begins to rise again, take a right fork on a wide path into the woods. The path soon runs clear of the trees and you have fine views again. About 250m from the fork, you finally reach the Ludshott Common car park where the walk began.

DISTANCE: 9 miles
OS MAPS: Explorer 133 Haslemere
STARTING POINT: National Trust Ludshott Common car park (grid ref 852358, postcode GU26 6JG) in Hampshire, off the B3002 road from Hindhead, Surrey.

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