This is a pleasant walk through fields and woods and across a heath. The shorter option is largely flat. The longer option adds in some minor ups and downs. There are a number of refreshment places along the route including the Woolpack in Elstead (see offer below). The walk description is provided by Guildford Rambling Club (guildfordramblingclub.org.uk).
1. From Thursley cricket pitch you have two options. For the longer option, walk back along the road towards the A3 and, before the pub, turn right at the little green to walk down The Street. At the bottom do not follow the road sharp right. Instead, at the signpost take the track left. Quickly reach and take a footpath left, through a gate into a field. Follow that path across it and continue along a narrow path to reach Boundless Road, running alongside the A3.
2. Turn right along this road and soon turn left to go under the A3. On the other side, turn left. The road narrows and becomes the drive of ‘Cosford House’. Continue on to pass between the house and a small lake and out along a path. Almost immediately turn left up a bank through trees. At the top the path crosses a field to a gate which debouches onto French Lane. Turn left and follow the road for about ½ mile. As the road bends right take a track left. Pass Cosford Mill (a Grade II listed building built in the late 16th century and was more recently used as a studio by Roger Taylor of Queen) and then, at the top of the slope, turn right and walk for a few yards to reach an A3 slip road.
3. Here, turn right to go up to and turn left to cross a bridge over the A3. Almost opposite the other end of the bridge, look for a gap in the hedge, close to a cycleway sign. Go through onto Thursley Nature Reserve between a short run of railed fences and reach a T-junction with a sandy track and an information plaque. (The shorter option joins the route at this point. See later.)
4. Turn right and walk along the track. At a first blue arrow fork right. At the next go straight on. Go straight over a cross paths marked with arrows. At the next cross paths, with an information plaque and a house on the right, go straight ahead and north along a wide sandy track. At first you will be in trees but thereafter with heathland on your left. After about 1000 yards there are trees on both sides again and you pass a ‘Welcome to Thursley National Nature Reserve’ plaque. Quickly then reach a junction with three routes ahead from which to choose. Take the middle one.
5. Go straight over a cross paths and ignore lefts and rights. A field appears behind the trees on your right-hand side and there are lots of silver birches on the left-hand side. Keep going forward until reaching a junction with a 3-way signpost and an MOD warning sign. Here, turn right. Walk a little way to reach a T-junction with two roads, one of which is labelled Guinea Common and is on your right. Turn left and walk up to the far end of the other road, which you will later see is Hookley Road. Reach a T-junction where you jink right to join the Milford Road. Turn left towards Elstead. Continue until you can turn left into Springfield (a road) and immediately right, along Back Lane. At the other end you emerge at the side of a pub, the Woolpack, with a little green and some shops ahead of you. There is a convenience store by The Green where you can usually buy snacks.
6. After lunch, walk on down the side of the green opposite the shops and turn left into Stacey Farm Road. Immediately take a footpath left and up by the side of a house. Emerge in a field and continue forward along its left-hand edge. Exit from the first corner onto a cross paths and continue forward. The path runs for almost ¾ mile. Near the end it swings sharp left and then quickly right again. Soon afterwards, reach a junction and take a bridleway right and into trees on Elstead Common. Go straight over two successive cross paths. Emerge from the trees on the edge of heathland walk along the left-hand edge.
7. At a Thursley Nature Reserve Plaque turn left onto the start of a boardwalk this takes you in a large arc, passing a large pond which is popular with bird watchers. At its far end at a cross paths, turn left to follow the sandy track more or less south, for a time paralleling some 3-strand power lines initially on your left-hand side. Eventually pass under the power lines and they now run parallel but on your right-hand side. The power lines end but you continue on. Now take a bridleway forking right. Reach a very wide sandy cross track and go straight across to follow a narrow path through heather, then bracken, then bracken and trees.
8. At a T-junction with a wide track go left. Ignore a first left but then take an immediate fork right. Continue forward with a fence and fields on your right-hand side. Ignore a fork right, follow the bridleway straight on. Go straight over a cross paths and ignore two tiny rights. Reach a wide junction and take the track right. Emerge by the little green in Thursley with the pub along to the left and the start point to the right.
For the shorter option, from the start, walk along the road past the pub and take the footpath left by the tiny green. Go down to a cross paths and turn right to follow a track roughly parallel to the road and eventually meet the junction with the railed fences and information plaque at the end of the A3 bridge which is mentioned above.
DISTANCE: 7.25 or 9 miles
OS MAPS: Explorer 133 Haslemere & Petersfield
STARTING POINT: Park by the cricket pitch in Thursley, just along the road from the Three Horseshoes (GU8 6QD).
The Three Horseshoes, Thursley T: 01252 703268
The Woolpack, Elstead T: 01252 703106
The Golden Fleece, Elstead T: 01252 702349
The Mill, Elstead T: 01252 703333
The Old Barn Café, Elstead T: 07930 337007