From the starting point on the Albury Downs near Guildford – part of the North Downs and one of its finest viewpoints – this walk twice descends below the crest of the downs and twice climbs to regain it. Open downland interspersed with frequent, attractive wooded stretches makes for a good, varied walk, especially when allied with superb and extensive views from the highest points at Newlands Corner and St Martha’s Church. Of the two climbs the first one that ascends St Martha’s Hill is quite steep and strenuous; the second that returns you to the start is more gradual. The shorter version includes only the latter, easier ascent.
Starting with your back to the refreshment kiosk, turn half-right, head downhill across the grass to pick up a stony path and bear right along it, soon passing a yellow waymarker post, indicating that this is part of the North Downs Way. Now follow a splendidly scenic path, below the edge of woodland on the right and with extensive views over the downs to the left. At a fork take the left-hand path and do the same at the next fork, keeping along the right-hand edge of woodland. Soon the path enters the trees, bends to the left and heads down to a lane A.
Cross over, go up some steps and turn left, at a North Downs Way sign, along an enclosed, wooded path that heads downhill, parallel to the lane on the left, to a T‑junction of paths in front of a house B.
At this point those who wish to do the shorter version of the walk should turn left to rejoin the main route after 200 yards at J below.
Turn right here, leaving the North Downs Way, along a path that keeps by the left-hand edge of woodland; later this path broadens into a track. Continue, passing through a farmyard to reach a lane C. Cross over, take the enclosed track ahead at a public bridleway sign, and at a crossing of tracks by a Pewley Down information board, keep ahead into woodland. The track curves left to a T‑junction where you turn right, rejoining the North Downs Way along a track between wire fences. Over to the right, houses on the edge of Guildford can be seen. The track keeps along the right-hand edge of Chantry Wood – along this section the North Downs Way coincides with the Pilgrims’ Way – finally going to the right of a cottage to a crossing of tracks D. Turn left along an enclosed path beside Chantry Lodge, still keeping along the right-hand edge of Chantry Wood, and on reaching a road bear left.
After 50 yards turn left E over a stile at a public footpath sign and walk across the middle of a field, later continuing by a hedge on the right. Turn right through a hedge gap near a farm, turn left to continue in the same direction, now along an undulating track, eventually going through a gate onto a lane F. Turn right and almost immediately right again, at a public footpath sign, to continue along an enclosed path which descends to a lane. Turn left here and where the lane bends sharply to the left keep ahead, passing to the left of a lodge. Continue along a gravel track through the grounds of Chilworth Manor.
The track curves left, keeping to the right of the manor house. At a fork turn right and go along a rough track between fences. After 50 yards turn left G, at a public footpath sign, along an enclosed path which heads steeply up St Martha’s Hill, the most strenuous part of the walk but leading to one of the finest views in Surrey. On the upper slopes of the hill the path crosses a sandy track and continues up to St Martha’s Church H, 573ft high and a superb viewpoint looking out over the North Downs, Guildford, along the greensand ridge and across the Weald to the distant South Downs. This isolated hilltop church (the parish church of Chilworth) was rebuilt in 1850, partly from the stones of the original Norman church that stood on the site. It is one of the major landmarks on the North Downs Way.
At the church, turn right along a broad, sandy track that heads downhill, with grand views along the greensand ridge ahead, continuing through woodland to reach a junction. Keep straight ahead, passing to the right of a ruined wartime pillbox, and at a junction of three tracks take the left-hand one that leads through a car park to a lane J.
Here you rejoin the shorter route. Turn right and after 50 yards bear left along a straight, fence-lined path which runs below the crest of the Albury Downs on the left, later continuing along the left-hand edge of woodland. Once more this is part of the supposed line of the Pilgrims’ Way. At a public bridleway sign turn left, along another enclosed bridleway. Pass to the left of a farmhouse and at a yellow waymarked post beside the barn head up across the field towards Albury Downs. At the top go through a gate and continue uphill, bearing right across grass to rejoin the stony path, which will take you back to Newlands Corner.
This is Walk 21 from the Pathfinder Guides Surrey Walks, published by Crimson Publishing (www.crimsonpublishing.co.uk). OS Map ©Crown copyright 2020 Ordnance Survey. Media 006/20
DISTANCE: 7 miles. Shorter version 2¼ miles
OS MAPS: Landranger 186 (Aldershot & Guildford), Explorer 145 (Guildford & Farnham)
STARTING POINT: Newlands Corner
START GPS WAYPOINT: TQ 043 492