This is an easy walk to get the new year started, only 5 miles and completely flat. It is also very charming, with some lovely, far-reaching views of the local countryside. At its beginning and end, it has the lovely village of Crondall to explore, with its Anglo-Saxon roots and some rather lovely historic buildings, including a great Norman church and a 500-year-old pub. There are no nettles to speak of on this walk and very little undergrowth. One of the field paths (despite being along the edge) is rather stony and you may be glad to be wearing boots. There are just two stiles, not well enough built to present any obstacle to your dog.
1. With the church and churchyard on your left, walk along the tarmac lane, passing the village hall, to reach Crondall’s main recreation ground / playing field. Turn right into the ground and go left along the edge. (Strictly, the official footpath is a little further along the road on the right going behind the tennis court but no one seems to use it.) Now veer diagonally right (keeping to the edge if there is cricket in progress!) to pass the tennis courts on your left and continue a little further to a gap in the tree hedge. (See map below.) Go through the gap and veer right to come out into a crop field. Take a path diagonally across the field to reach a junction of tarmac roads.
2. Avoid the side road sharp left, veer left on the major road and, in 30m, at a fingerpost, go right over a wooden bridge into a crop field. Turn left along the edge. The edge elbows left and leads you to a tarmac lane. Turn right on the lane. Where, in 100m, the lane bends right, go right for 20m and then left at a fingerpost onto a path along the right-hand side of a large field. This path goes under power lines and, shortly after, the boundary hedge on your right ends. Keep ahead here, curving slightly left, in a wide arc, on a path between fields. The crop here is usually tall wheat but it will be only stubble after reaping. Your path suddenly ends at a marker post. Turn squarely right here, heading for some trees, and when you reach the trees, turn left at another marker post, close to the trees on your right. Looking back, you can see the tower of Crondall church.
3. Your path ends at an oak wood. Turn left alongside the wood and, in 25m, go right at a fingerpost on a pleasant path just inside the wood. After 300m, you reach a farm track with a metal gate on your left. Go right for 15m and left over a stile into woods. Your path goes immediately left, wheels right and meanders through this strangely thin oak wood in a more-or-less straight direction. On your right soon are the twin peaks of Horsedown Common with a trig pillar on top. Keep straight on for the length of this sheep pasture, past scattered thorn bushes, with the dividing fence close by on your left. You come through a marshy patch caused by underground springs but a boardwalk keeps you dry shod. Immediately after the boardwalk, go left to a small wooden gate with a yellow arrow. Go over the stile beside the gate (which is wired up). The stile is wobbly and can easily break, so tread gently!
4. The path curves right through a woodland of hawthorn and young beech. After 250m or so, you come out to the corner of a large field. Keep straight ahead along the right-hand edge and, at the far side, veer right and immediately left to meet a wide gravel track. Turn left on the track which soon becomes quite dark as it enters trees and turns stony. After 500m on this track, just as you see it curving right ahead, look to your right for some steps and a fingerpost. Go right up the steps and take a path straight across a crop field on a faint path. (In case the field is recently ploughed, aim for the centre of a large rounded tree.) At the far side, by a marker post, turn left along the edge of the field. Stay on the edge of the field, curving right and left, all the way (about 600m) to reach a tarmac lane with farm building opposite.
5. Turn left on this quiet lane, passing an irrelevant junction on your right, until you reach the start of some woodland, immediately after passing under power lines. Turn right here at a fingerpost on a path into the wood. The path runs parallel to the lane you were on. At the end of the wood, turn right along the right-hand side of a field with great views. When you reach another wood after 400m, take a path straight ahead into the wood, as indicated by a yellow arrow. Follow a path just inside the wood for 200m to a T-junction by a marker post. Turn left here on a wide dusty track. In 200m, as you approach a field, ignore a narrow footpath on your left and take a farm track straight ahead between fields.
6. The track curves right and, after a total of 450m, reaches a T-junction with direction arrows. Turn left on this wide track, with your final destination in sight. This easy track zigzags and, after a total of 700m, brings you to a junction of tracks by farm buildings. Turn right and, after a metal gate, keep straight ahead on a tarmac lane. Within 200m, you are back in the village of Crondall where the walk began.
DISTANCE: 5 miles
OS MAPS: Explorer 144 (Basingstoke)
START POINT: The walk begins in the village of Crondall, Hampshire, near Farnham. Park near the church (postcode GU10 5QF) where there is plenty of roadside parking.