Cranleigh is Surrey’s largest village and the locals are justly proud of it. This panhandle walk begins from near where the railway station once stood, but that sadly was lost to the village during the infamous Beeching cuts of 1965. Since then the track has been transformed; nowadays it leads a much quieter life and the old track bed forms a part of the Downs Link long-distance footpath, The days when steam trains rattled through here spewing out their smoke and hot cinders have long been forgotten. This route takes in almost two miles of the track bed, which has become an unofficial linear nature reserve. After leaving the track bed the way follows wide paths and quiet lanes as it loops through magnificent countryside before rejoining this wonderful path for the homeward journey.
1. From the car park continue away from the High Street on a path beside the leisure centre to cross a small brook and reach a T-junction with a wide track. This track was once the railway line and you should now turn left along it and pass between a small car park and a sports fi eld. A few houses will be seen through the trees on your left and 90 yards after passing the last house, look out for a wire fenced bridge parapet.
2. Turn left here and go down steps to reach a field where you should turn right along its edge. Enter a second field and follow a cart track uphill until 30 yards before its crest; seek out a narrow path that forks slightly right. Follow this path between trees as it shadows the old railway cutting. At the foot of a slope by a crossing track, with the railway track just 10 yards away to your right, press on ahead. The path finally ends at a stile by a track with a brick bridge on your right.
3. Turn left here along a concrete farm track until it soon ends at a T-junction with a tarmac driveway. Turn right on the bridleway along this scenic drive and ignore a left fork that leads to Vachery House. About 10 yards before meeting a second fork, turn left and follow the bridleway along a cart track and pass between buildings. After passing entrance gates, follow the bridleway left as it continues along the left-hand boundary of a large field. Press on as it follows the left side of a second field but, when the well-worn track turns left at a third field, keep ahead on a narrower path that you now follow until it passes a house and ends at a tarmac driveway.
4. Turn right along the drive and pass by cottages and farm buildings. Ignore a footpath ahead at a bend and remain on the drive. At a terrace of half-tiled cottages, maintain direction ahead on a rising stony bridleway. The way meets with a concrete farm drive which you should follow between cottages and farm buildings and when this ends press on ahead along a track that soon meets with the old track bed of the defunct railway where a small private lake will be seen ahead of you.
5. Turn right here along this glorious path inhabited by wildlife; without any further instruction, stuff this little book firmly into your pocket and follow the track for two miles until you reach Cranleigh where there are coffee shops and eateries available in the High Street for your delight.
DISTANCE: 6 miles
OS MAP: Landranger 187
GRID REFERENCE: GR 058389.
TERRAIN: An easy walk through gently undulating countryside.
GETTING THERE: Cranleigh is 8 miles south of Guildford on the B2128. Very limited roadside parking by the White Hart, so use the cheap pay and display car park (free on Sundays) in Village Way; turn off by the village hall in the High Street.
This walk is taken from Pocket Pub Walks Surrey, published by Countryside Books. Visit countrysidebooks.co.uk for more information. It was first published in VantagePoint in February 2014.