Experience three remarkably different landscapes: ancient woodland where the River Blackwater begins, historic parkland and open heathy plains.
About the walk
Start point: Rowhill Nature Reserve car park, at the junction of Cranmore Lane (B3008) and Farnborough Road (A325), Aldershot, GU11 3BD. The car park is located adjacent to the Field Centre and on-street parking can be found locally. All we ask is that you are considerate to local residents. SU 849499.
Distance: 11 km/ 7 miles
Walk time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Terrain: Undulating and challenging in places. Some parts are slippery after rain and muddy in the winter
Rail to Trail: Aldershot Station: 1.3 miles
Public transport is at the top of Cranmore Lane outside and opposite the Field Centre.
Rowhill Nature Reserve to Hale
- 1. From the car park, looking towards the woodland, take the track on the left that runs between the woodland edge and adjacent housing, signed as the Blackwater Valley Path. This soon opens up into a path through the woodland itself. Continue past the wet, boggy area that is the source of the River Blackwater on the left. Then past Stickleback Pond on the right and on through mixed woodland. At a small T-junction turn right, following the Blackwater Valley Path signs to an open field area. Here the path splits, keep to the right and continue with the field on the left.
- 2. Just before the end of the field, take the path on the right which dips down some steps and across a small stream. Pass the first small path on the left then after about 20m, past a bridge take the next left. This leads straight through the wood to a narrow footpath out onto Copse Avenue, turn right here and then left into Oakland Avenue.
- 3. Follow the road to Upper Weybourne Lane, cross and turn right, then left down Brooklands Road. At Farnborough Road cross and turn right. Take the next left, North Avenue and then first left into East Avenue. This ends in a T-junction, again turn right and then left into Willow Way.
- 4. At the next T-junction turn right and then left into a pedestrianised road past a small parade of shops. Keep going straight on, still on Willow Way, to reach Upper Hale Road. Turn left down the hill and then first right into Oast House Lane. When the road splits take the left-hand fork which runs uphill and quickly becomes a country lane.
- 5. At the entrance to Farnham Park turn left downhill along the surfaced path. The path crosses a stream and then runs uphill again. As the path levels out leave the surfaced path and proceed to the right along a wide avenue of trees, stretching for 1 km towards Farnham Castle.
- 6. Take the surfaced path left down the hill and leave the park via Park Row, a short pedestrian lane between walled gardens. At the road turn right and then right again onto Castle Street, which shortly becomes Castle Hill.
- 7. Follow the pavement up Castle Hill and take a set of steps which leads to the entrance of Farnham Castle Keep. When the steps split and skirt around the castle grounds, stay to the left, signed to Farnham Park. At the main entrance to the Castle carefully cross the main road and take the footpath on the left just after Bishop's Square. When the footpath comes to the lane turn left.
- 8. Just before the lane bends to the right take the footpath on the left opposite number 16 Grange Cottage. Continue straight on, past a house on the right, and then follow the track across the fields. When the path reaches an established hedgerow carry straight on keeping the hedge on the right.
- 9. In the corner of the field take the footpath right, along a narrow track between the hedge and a field fence. This path runs for 300m then ends at a gate and the path opens out into a field entrance.
- 10. Turn left along the field boundary ahead and across another stile into woodland. The path now runs downhill through a woodland to a stream with a small brick bridge. Cross and continue up the other side through the woodland to steps up to a gate, which leads to another field on the left. Carry on with the fence line on the right.
- 11. Turn right through a double metal gate in the fence line and head straight across the field towards Middle Old Park House. Take the kissing gate into a field and then another gate out onto the main lane.
- 12. Turn right along a surfaced track, which becomes a tree-lined lane and continue straight. As the track comes to an opening with a house, follow the track around to the left. When the track divides, straight ahead is a private road, keep right and then turn left along a surfaced road between evergreen garden hedges. This leads into a small estate of houses, keep left and follow the road onto Heathyfields Road, an unmade track, keeping right when the road forks.
Back to Rowhill Nature Reserve
- 13. This leads to Folly Hill, cross and go straight on along Lawday Link to the A3106 Upper Hale Road. Cross carefully onto a small footpath almost opposite leading onto the heath.
- 14. At the T-junction with a wide track, cross and then immediately take the first track on the right. The track now runs for 1 km along the edge of the heathland, parallel with the housing on the right. It follows a ridge line and has wide views to the left across the heath towards Farnborough and Fleet. Keep to the main track, ignoring the paths off to the left.
- 15. At the end of the houses on the right, take the steep path down off the ridge to the left, at the bottom keep right past a pond on the left. After the pond keep going straight on.
- 16. At the next junction take the right-hand fork bearing slightly uphill. The path now gradually climbs Hungry Hill and then cuts across to join Farnborough Road. There are a lot of paths in the area and it is very difficult to give precise instructions. Keep on gradually heading uphill, avoid paths to the left which head downhill or to the right which head steeply uphill. Take the level, gradually climbing paths to reach an open eroded area with a substantial wall of block work standing at the top of the hill. From here the traffic on the Farnborough Road can be heard off to the right. Just before reaching the block work, turn right and follow the path that slopes gently down a gully into the woodland towards a garden fence, keep the fence on the right and leave the wood onto the Farnborough Road.
- 17. Cross Farnborough Road at the roundabout and then cross Cranmore Lane back to the Rowhill Nature Reserve car park.