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Bourne Walk

A walk across the Bourne Valley, up into and around the Bourne Woods then back through Lower Bourne village. There are several points of interest en route.


4 miles

How long to allow

No more than 3 hours

Starting point

St. Thomas on The Bourne Church

Safety points

There are several parts of the walk that are moderately steep both up and down hills and in a few places the surface is uneven and/or with tree roots that could cause the unwary to trip, especially in wet weather. 

The walk avoids major roads although it crosses Lodge Hill Road, which can be busy, and the tarmac track in the Bourne Woods that might be busy if filming is in progress.

Please follow the Countryside Code to get the most out of your walk.

Description of walk contributed by David Dearsley

Route Points of interest Hazard
Start at St Thomas on The Bourne Church. Parking can be in St. Thomas’ car park, if permitted, or in Swingate Road. The Bourne area is very sandy soil with east/west ridges. The walk proceeds generally north/south which involves several uphill and downhill patches but these are not too onerous.  Herbage, straggling houses of the Bourne hamlet, the little stream itself, the fresh elastic St. Thomas’ was built in 1911 but first ‘humans’ in the area were Palaeolithic, at least 8,000 BC. Evidence of their passage is old stone age hand axes found in old gravel pits, best examples from Wards Pit on site of church as well as the Borelli and Faulkner pits south and east of Great Austins respectively. Hunter gatherers used axes to kill game. There were several other pits along Ridgeway and Shortheath. More recently squatters in 18th/19thcentury lived in the area as low level self-sufficient, subsistence farmers keeping cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, sheep and growing a few crops in the alluvial soils near the bottom of the valley. Some cash work was available in hop fields, later in gravel pits, railway, domestic service, laundry (which polluted local wells). 1848 Rev. C.B. Taylor of Frensham wrote “Imagine standing on Gravel Hill (i.e. the site of the Church) looking down at “hills of purple heather, dark woods of Scotch firs, wild looking sheep browsing on the close green air fragrant with turf smoke, a deep sandy road. Up to 1820 the only gentlemen’s residences between Farnham and Headley were Waveley, Tilford House, and Pierrepoint. In Upper and Lower Bourne there were only a half dozen old cottages inhabited by a very bad lot!”Beware traffic on A287
Leave from the rear of the church car park then turn right into Swingate and then left into Greenhill Road. Proceed down Greenhill Road to footpath no.71 leading to Paradise Wood At beginning of footpath into Paradise Wood it is worth pausing to note reference to ‘Villas’ (as described by George Sturt – see later) built in the area following opening of the railway, regular water supply and development of military camp at Aldershot.  Railway to Farnham 1849 (via Puttenham and Seale and later 1870 via Aldershot) created a building boom but water supply (from the Castle and Hale) was limited. The vicarage well 150ft. deep, sighted in Old Church Lane, was available to locals until 1897 when Victoria Reservoir started to supply Farnham.  Half way through Paradise Wood note the commemorative plaque to Stan Cockett. This little wood was given to the town in about 1920 by the owner of Greenhill Farm, Madeline Septemia Shaw Lefrevre. She was the daughter of Lord Eversley, a leading Liberal politician instrumental in setting up the Commons Preservation Society (Land). Initially there were areas of grass for picnicking but by 2000 the wood was grossly overgrown with laurel. This led to the formation of Bourne Conservation Group by Stan Cockett who sadly died in 2014.  Note seat erected in his memory and name of path.  Path through Paradise Wood can be slippery in wet weather 
Proceed through Paradise Wood, and turn right on Packway for a short way before turning left and down footpath no.70 to Bourne Gove to emerge by the side of the car park for the Spotted Cow pub.  
Turn right along Bourne Grove and then left up Deepdene to Lodge Hill Road. Cross Lodge Hill Road and proceed up footpath no. 68. At top of the track on Old Mans Hill pause for breath.Note: network of paths and random location of houses.  Walk to work in the 19th Century often 10 miles or more per day, plus walk to doctor, workhouse etc. Also cottages built wherever convenient e.g. in valley where alluvial soil meant small scale agriculture possible and rough pasture and bedding for animals plus access to wood for turf, heather and gorse. Hop fields extended up the hill out of Farnham as far as Shortheath where many local people worked.Beware traffic crossing Lodge Hill Road 
Follow footpath to Dene Lane and then turn left and proceed until a bridleway appears on the right leading into Bourne Woods. Pause just along the bridleway where Lobswood Manor is in sight on the left then proceed along the bridleway to the tarmac track leading from the main Tilford Road into the Bourne Wood.Cross the tarmac road and continue along the bridleway until it reaches a junction with several other paths. Bungalows at end of Dene Lane on the corner of the bridleway built by Canadian soldiers for WW2 seachlight battery team, then forestry workers and then private. Further along the bridleway on the left is Lobswood Manor, previously known as Black Lake Cottage and lived in by JM Barrie who wrote Peter Pan while there. He also investigated ‘ghosts’ seen walking from old lime pits and cottages in Bourne Woods, who turned out to be courting couples returning home after assignations. The tarmac track was built by a film company to help move machinery into the wood for filmmaking. The revenue from the films helps the Forestry Commission cover the cost of the plantation. Films include:1974-81 It Ain’t Half Hot Mum2000 Gladiator2009 Harry Potter2010 Robin Hood2011 Captain America2011 Warhorse2011 Sherlock Holmes2012 Snow White2013 Thor2016 Transformers2017 Jurasic World 2. Plus loads of adverts – Marmite and IKEA Possible film traffic on tarmac road.
Take the middle path which rises gently to a gate into the RSPB reserve. Proceed through the gate to the top of the ridge and turn right along the ridge. Splendid views on the left, looking south to Hindhead.       The RSPB reserve provides a home for numerous sandy heathland birds and wildlife eg field crickets, sand lizards. It is the largest RSPB reserve in the south. Aims – remove pine, coppice regrowth eg like previous plantations with hop poles and, later, pit props, plough ground to restore medieval plants, restore habitat for nightjars, woodlarks, stonechat,  Dartford warblers, adders, slow worms, common vole, field crickets.About 100 yds over the brow of the ridge is the site of a WW11 spigot mortar otherwise known as the Blacker Bombard, after its inventor Lieutenant-Colonel Blacker.  Rejected by army as dangerous and inefficient, Winston Churchill became involved and ensured it was issued to Home Guard as an anti-tank weapon useful with the Stop Line established in 1940 to prevent invasion by tanks. References to Spigot Mortar live firing practice across the road from Lobswood Manor.Dogs on leads in RSPB reserve.
After about ¼ mile, note remains of site of Spigot mortar.  Rural Life Centre, off the ridge to the left is worth a visit and can provide a comfort break for those who wish.     
Continue about ¼ mile along the top of the ridge until a bridleway joins from the right.Turn right off the ridge and follow the bridleway downhill to the junction with another and then up the sandy hill parallel to Old Frensham Road.Before turning off the ridge note the view of Gibbets Hill at Hindhead in the distance. Note the story of the murdered sailor. The main London/Portsmouth road ran near Thursley. A sailor returning to his ship spent the night at the Red Lion Inn on 24 September 1786 and entertained three other sailors. Left for Hindhead with them (for safety), but he was murdered, stripped of clothes and thrown from the Punchbowl. Found quickly by countrymen, alarm raised and murders found at The Sun Inn in Rake trying to sell his clothes Found guilty at Kingstone assizes and two days later on 2 April 1787 hanged in chains from gibbet on Gibbet Hill. Buried in Thursley churchyard and stone erected by old coaching road with curse on the back about injuring or removing the stone – but they did move it when dipping the old A3 road. Now restored. Also maybe worth reference to Old Mother Ludlam cave at Moor Park and her cauldron in Frensham Church, and reason for name of Devil’s Punch Bowl (devil stole Mother Ludlam’s cauldron and ran off to Hindhead where she recovered her cauldron). Also reference to Jonathon Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) secretary at More House.  
Follow the main track round to a large wooden flight of steps on the left leading down through Sable Wood to Dene Lane. Sable Wood is six acres of private woodland. Purchased in order to be preserved for the environment. Invasive species such as cedar, rhododendrons and gaultheria were removed and native species such as hazel and hawthorn were planted. Also some Scots Pine were thinned by felling.The owner has evolved a system of dead hedging to protect cleared or planted areas and create habitat areas for small mammals. Bourne Conservation Group assisted with constructing the staircase and other conservation work in the wood.  Footpath steep and exposed tree roots at the lower end which are slippery if wet. 
Turn left along Dean Lane and continue to St. Martin’s on the Green. Continue along the recreation ground and then cross Lodge Hill Road, turn into School Lane and then down footpath no.179 to “The Fox”.St. Martin’s Church was built 1904. Tilford and Farnham were one parish, then Tilford separated 1865 with Bourne (then called Tilford Bourne). Needed separate church for Bourne so funds raised in Tilford for what was then called the Tilford Mission Church. Flowers for consecration provided by J.M. Barrie of Black Lake Cottage/Lobswood Manor. The small bungalow to the right of The Fox is typical of old Bourne cottages and one of only a few remaining – single storey, red brick and two rooms either side of the front door.The Fox is now the only surviving pub in Lower Bourne village (Cricketers closed in 1990s and Happy Home in 1960s) but also Bat and Ball, Spotted Cow, Sandrock in the Bourne Valley – Farnham originally had 120 pubs in the 19th century. The Fox dates probably from early 18th Century. There have been reports of ghosts of Roman legionnaires marching up Gravel Hill late at night.           Beware traffic on Lodge Hill Road and A287.      The Fox can provide a comfort stop if needed.
Continue past The Fox, over the bridge and turn right into Sturt Walk as far as the end of Old Church Lane. Stop at borehole site, half way down Sturt Walk to consider local water problems.Water supply south of Farnham was always a problem with just a few local wells often contaminated. Two boreholes now pump water from 400ft. to Victoria Reservoir on the A287 at the top of Gravel Hill, built 1880s. Previously vicarage well was allowed for public use (near the top of Old Church Lane) 150 ft deep and local wells much less–laundry contamination problems and cholera and dysentery common. 
Turn right into Old Church Lane and then stop by Sturt’s house on the right to consider his legacy. Continue up Old Church Lane to the top and turn left to visit the Old Church Yard.George Sturt, 1863-1927, wrote under the name of George Bourne, no Charles Dickens but interesting social historian (somewhat romantic), wrote the Wheelright’s Shop about his family business in Farnham and nine other books including Change in the Village about Lower Bourne. Note that Sturt’s gardener, Bettesworth, often mentioned in his books, is said to have lived in a cottage in Sturt Walk just past the Old Church Lane turn-off. The old churchyard was the site of the first Bourne church built in 1861 until it was demolished in 1925 when replaced by the new church. It contains some 800 graves and is the only churchyard in the UK with a wildlife pond to attract local biodiversity. The site is managed by the Bourne Conservation Group.  
Return to St. Thomas along Swingate Road or Firgrove Hill.End of walk. 


There are many variables including, but not limited to, weather, fitness level, terrain features and outdoor experience that must be considered prior to walking any of these routes. Be prepared for your journey and be sure to check the current weather and conditions before heading outdoors. Always exercise common sense and caution. Farnham Town Council  are not responsible for the safety or well-being of any one who chooses to follow these routes.

These walks have been provided by keen local walkers and walking groups. While every effort is taken to ensure that the routes shared are correct, we can in no way guarantee the routes to be 100% free of errors.

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