This is a glorious and fairly short walk, full of variety, with a fine village at the start and a good pub at the high point. It also passes close to two of the most interesting and ancient churches in Surrey. Since publishing this walk in VantagePoint, we have had several people contact us to say how lovely it is! The William IV pub and the Dabbling Duck tearoom are two recommended refreshment stops on this walk. For more information, please visit www.thewilliamivpub.com or call 01483 202685. The walk is taken from www.fancyfreewalks.org.
1. Coming out of the car park, turn left and immediately right along Middle Street, going past the shops and teahouses that make Shere so attractive to visitors. At the little green, turn left to visit the church which is a must-see. Shere’s ancient church of St James is a delightful essay in all that is best in an English country church: its location, its twelfth-century tower visible from the hills around and its interior with too many features to do justice to here. After visiting the church, retrace your steps, cross over Middle Street and continue ahead along Lower Street following the Tillingbourne stream with white ducks and probably lots of children and families. Pass the Old Forge and other quaint properties, a scarecrow and flowerpot men. At the next junction, go over a ford on the right by means of the footbridge.
2. In 100m, at a junction of drives, take a narrow footpath diagonally left between houses and follow it, between a wall and a bank. It crosses a tarmac drive, goes up through a kissing gate and crosses an open meadow with the garden buildings and orchard of the Albury Estate on your left and fine views of the North Downs on your right. It then runs through a large bluebell wood, with a kissing-gate on each side, and in 350m reaches another open area. A church tower comes into view. This church was built by Henry Drummond, owner of Albury Manor, who was one of the new “apostles” of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Because of their belief in the second coming of Christ, the unused church is still kept in immaculate condition. Keeping the church on your left, pass through a wooden swing-gate and go down a track to a road.
3. Turn left along the road on a sheltered footpath, past the church and over a bridge over the Tillingbourne, continuing until eventually you reach a road junction. Turn left here following a sign to Albury Heath. But immediately turn left again through a wooden gate of Albury Park (note the weight in the drainpipe). Follow the driveway for 300m, and take the left fork, following the sign for the church. Shortly after, keep ahead across the grass. (Looking up to your right you will notice a marker post and a wooden gate: this is your route after visiting the church.) You quickly reach the entrance to the ancient church.
4. After visiting the church, go back the way you came, but only about 50m to meet the first dirt track under a copper beech. Turn left here up a gentle grassy slope in the direction of a wooden post, crossing the tarmac drive that leads to Albury Park. Go past the post, pointing your way ahead steeply towards a wooden gate leading into woods. Go through this gate on a footpath that leads up through a plantation of rhododendrons and bears left on a wide path. Keep to the path for some distance, following yellow arrows all the way, going over several crossing paths, avoiding any major or minor branch-offs. The ever-changing woodland is sometimes pine and sometimes deciduous. In 700m or so, your path passes through a metal gate by a modern house and continues to the main road at Little London. At the point where you meet the road, take a look here at the three footpath signs. The middle sign points your way back to Shere.
5. For the King William IV pub, take the dusty track on the other side of the road. This reaches another road after 300 metres and immediately on your right is the William IV. This is a lively village local AND is open all day Monday to Sunday from 11am. To return in a circular route, go right through the back of the pub (note the gentlemen’s “stand-up” and “sit-down”) and its car park and out over a stile (or through a large metal gate) to a small meadow veering right to join a track at the other side, via another stile. The track crosses over drives and meets the wide-open space of Albury Heath. Turn right here on a wide track. On reaching the main road, turn right for 200m or so back to the three signposts.
6. Following the middle signpost, through a wooden swing-gate, and walk down a wonderful grass avenue with great chestnut trees standing like guards of honour, with good views ahead to the North Downs and with horses in the fields to your right. This leads all the way down to a swinggate at the bottom. Just before a bridge over the Tillingbourne, turn right through a swing-gate following the stream. This takes you across a grassy area, through a swing-gate and along a woodland track with the stream always on your left, through a small wooden gate, past the ford and back to the village. Turn left to pass the shops and the Dabbling Duck and left at the T-junction back to the car park where the walk began.
DISTANCE: 4 miles
MAP: OS Explorer 145 (Guildford)
START: The walk begins in the main car park in Shere Village, Surrey, off the A25, postcode GU5 9HE. The car park often fills up, in which case you can park further down the village by the roadside.