Weekend Walk: Ripley and the Wey Navigation (5 plus 5 miles)

This is an easy, flat, figure of 8 walk, running past a lake and alongside the historic Wey Navigation. The walk description is provided by Guildford Rambling Club (guildfordramblingclub.org.uk).

Facing the back of the shops, head right, passing behind the houses until emerging on Newark Lane (the B367). Turn right and cross. Walk past the houses and keep going until passing a stile out left into a field. Further along the road, just beyond this stile, go through a gap in the hedge on the left to emerge next to a large lake, Papercourt Lake (used for angling and sailing). Head anti-clockwise around the lake. When forced to choose take the left fork, into trees. Keep going until emerging in an open area (you are now beyond the end of the lake) and turn right. The path brings you out onto a road opposite some houses.

Cross to take a footpath heading away from the road and passing some allotments. The path takes you along the left-hand edge of fields. At one point it jinks left then right, passing a footbridge and continuing forward. Keep going along the edge of the field until you reach a T junction. Here, turn right. Now, follow the path with a stream on your left until you see a footbridge on your left at a point where the path swings sharp right. Turn left to cross the footbridge and immediately turn right to walk with the stream now on your right. Pass a pond and eventually reach a point where you can see a lane, Tannery Lane, ahead of you. Do not go through onto the lane. Instead, follow the path as it swings left and runs parallel to the Lane but in trees, just off of its edge. Emerge in the Lane just short of some light industrial buildings, one of which is Tannery House. Go down the right-hand side of the buildings to cross a footbridge over the Wey Navigation.

On the far side turn right and walk along the towpath to Papercourt Lock. Here, cross the Navigation and continue along the towpath on the other side to reach a road bridge. Go up onto the bridge and cross it, left, then go down onto the towpath on the other side to continue forward. You will quickly pass (on your left) the remains of Newark Priory. (This, an Augustinian priory, was built at around 1189. It was partially demolished after Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.) Continue on past Newark Lock to reach Walsham Gates (the last of the original turf sided locks, opened in 1653, that were common along the full length of the Navigation). Here, turn right to cross over the weir and then follow the path ahead to reach Ripley Green and the starting car park. You could lunch in a café or pub in Ripley or picnic on the Green.

Afterwards, walk north, away from the houses and shops, along the lane through the common, passing the play-park. Follow this path to reach the lock at Walsham Gates again. Turn right to walk along the towpath to Pyrford Lock. (Along the way, on the other side, you will see the brick-built “summer house” in which the poet and playwright John Donne lived for a while. You will also pass a medieval bridge, Pigeonhouse Bridge.) At Pyrford Lock, just before the Anchor public house, turn right, through a gate and into Wisley Golf Course. Follow the yellow arrow signs along the wide track which swings out right across the course and then curves left and reaches a T junction where they take you left until, close to a small pond, the path swings left and over a fairway and a footbridge. It then passes through scrub and trees and a scruffy work area and turns right to emerge close to the Club House.

A few yards along here, before reaching the Club House, take a footpath left and emerge in the churchyard of Wisley Church. (Wisley Church is well worth a look. It was originally built in 1150.) Go out onto the road (Wisley Lane) in front of the church and proceed right, alongside it. Walk past the golf club entrance then take a footpath right, to re-enter the course. Quickly reach a junction and turn left. Follow the path around the edge of the course to reach a footpath left. This takes you through bushes, over a small footbridge and, for a few yards alongside the River Wey, to reach the road again, by a bridge. Turn right and walk along the road until you see a lollipop post box across on your left.

Now, cross the road and go up the wide track opposite, passing the post box. Go up this track for 20 yards then take a footpath off right. It takes you between fields to the start of a wooded area. About 50 yards inside the wood, at a cross paths, take the footpath right and follow it straight ahead (ignoring lefts and ignoring a fork left) until you reach the small Wren’s Nest car park and Wisley Lane again. Cross and head left. Quickly fork right, off the Lane and along a concrete vehicle track. After about 20 yards pick up a footpath off right which takes you, in a fenced corridor, through the middle of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Wisley Gardens and out behind the Glass Houses to reach a road. Cross this road and continue forward across a large field. The path brings you out on the access lane to Ockham Mill, just to the left of its buildings. (Ockham Mill is now a private residence. Ockham is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086.) Go straight across and continue in the same direction, along a footpath that takes you to Ripley Common and the start point.

DISTANCE: A figure of 8 of 5 plus 5 miles
OS MAPS: Explorer 145 – Guildford & Farnham
STARTING POINT: The car parking area by the play park on Ripley Green.
GRID REFERENCE:5 053 1 571
REFRESHMENTS: There are a number of pubs and eating places in Ripley itself. Also The Anchor, Pyrford Lock, Wisley, Surrey GU23 6QW (01932 342 507) which is on the route.

Image above: Walsham Gates and Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Colin Smith

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