A relaxed, flexible walk through 800 years of Farnham's history.
Distance 3.7 miles (6km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 328ft (100m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Paved streets and country park trails, can be muddy
Landscape Attractive market town in informal parkland setting
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 145 Guildford & Farnham or 'Historic Farnham', from tourist information centre in South Street
Start/finish SU 837475
Dog friendliness Good in Farnham Park, not so good in busy town centre
Parking Farnham Park, just off Castle Hill, Farnham
Public toilets Farnham Park and the Hart, near Upper Hart car park
1 You can wander at will in the park, or try this circuit. Bear right out of the car park, and walk up the long avenue of trees until you reach the buildings in the south east corner of the park. Turn left onto a tarmac path, cross the brook, and continue under the power lines to the information board near the park entrance at Upper Hale. Turn left again, onto another tarmac path that runs diagonally across the park, back under the power lines and past the Ranger's House. You'll cross your outward track within sight of the car park, before the path leads you down out of the park along a little alley that comes out into Park Row. Turn right here, then left into Castle Street. On your left you'll pass an attractive row of brick almshouses, built in 1619 'for the habitation and relief of eight poor honest old impotent persons'. I wonder how the residents feel about that description today?
2 Continue to the bottom of Castle Street, where the small fruit and vegetable market trades every weekday on the site of the old timber framed market house that stood here between 1566 and 1866. Cross the road and turn left into The Borough, but spare a few minutes here to browse the small specialist shops in Borelli Yard.
3 Turn right into South Street, cross the river, then turn right into Gostrey Meadow. The path leads you back across a footbridge over the river; bear left through the gardens, then cross Longbridge and continue along the riverside path with the Maltings across the water on your left. Bear right through the car park to the New Ashgate Gallery, then turn left into Lower Church Lane. Continue into St Andrew's churchyard, and follow the cobbled path past the west door and up the narrow lane signposted towards the museum.
4 Porters' Lodge
5 Keep straight on, up a few rustic steps and through a couple of small fields to a waymark post. Bear right here, down a narrow path that leads you between fences and out into Old Park Lane. Turn right, cross Castle Hill, then turn left onto the railed roadside footpath. Pass Farnham Cricket Club, and turn right at the signposted entrance to Farnham Park where your walk began.
Our walk begins in Farnham Park, which was enclosed around 1376 as one of the two deer parks belonging to the Bishops of Winchester. Parliamentary troops were billeted here during the Civil War and, more recently, the Women's Land Army grew food crops in the park during the Second World War. Nowadays you'll find playing fields and a public golf course, but most of the park is simply informal countryside.
In the attractive and historic town, one of the highlights is Borelli Yard, an enclave of interesting shops and location of The Matriarch sculpture by Ben Franklin. Charles Borelli was a jeweller by trade, but in the early years of the 20th century he bought and restored several of Farnham's more interesting old buildings. He worked closely with local architect Harold Falkner, and the two men collaborated on the colonnaded Town Hall Buildings, now one of Farnham's best known landmarks on the corner of Castle Street and The Borough.
Henry of Blois founded Farnham Castle in 1138, and it remained an official residence for the Bishops of Winchester until the Diocese of Guildford was created in 1927. Henry's successors strengthened the original castle by degrees, and added the Palace at the foot of the 12th-century Keep. You'll get some great views of the town from the Keep, which is just a few minutes walk down Castle Hill from Farnham Park. It's open daily, between April and October. The former Palace is open for guided tours all year round, on Wednesday afternoons only.
With over 40 pubs, restaurants and cafés in Farnham town centre, you won't go hungry. If you're looking for a pub, try the 450 year-old Nelson Arms in Castle Street; there's a good choice of real ales, and you can stoke up on bar burgers, cheese platters and home made daily specials. A little further on, you'll find a huge range of baguettes, as well as lunches and teas, at the licensed Lion and Lamb Bistro in Lion and Lamb Yard. Finally, at the beginning and end of your walk, the nice little golf course café is handy for drinks, snacks and hot food.
Actually, you can hardly miss the delightful Lion and Lamb sculpture on your way through Lion and Lamb Yard. At first glance you'd take its highly polished surface for bronze, but in fact sculptor Edwin Russell worked in wood, to make it more appealing to children. Despite appearances, most of this miniature shopping mall was built in the mid-1980s, though Laura Ashley's shop in the listed barn on your right is an exception. The Yard takes its name from the Lion and Lamb Hotel which previously stood on part of the site.