Circular walk 2 – hopping through Tongham and Badshot Lea

A walk that takes you along paths and country lanes, through woodland, local villages and along the river.

About the walk

Start point: Aldershot Park car park, Guildford Road, Off Lower Farnham Road, Aldershot GU12 4BP. SU 877491

Distance: 10 km / 6 miles

Walk time: 3 hours

Terrain: Flat, with some slopes and uneven ground.

Getting there

Rail to Trail: from Aldershot station, take East Station Road to St Michael's Road. Turn left then right into St Georges Road to enter Aldershot Manor Park. Follow the path through the Park with the High Street on the left, then exit and continue along the High Street / Ash Road. Turn right into Brighton Road, then left onto Orchard Way. Cross Lower Farnham Road into Guildford Road, at the end enter Aldershot Park to start the walk at point 1.

Aldershot Park

  • 1. From the car park follow the main surfaced path to the left along the edge of the playing fields. At the end of the fields turn right to walk along the field boundary, this will take you to the Blackwater Valley Path.
  • 2. Turn left to follow the Path past Tongham Pool. The Path emerges into a housing estate, leaving the Blackwater Valley Path turn right onto a surfaced path and go under the Blackwater Valley Road.

Archaeological excavation of the area around Tongham Pool found evidence of mediaeval settlements and even Iron Age occupation. Finds included a bronze brooch dating back to 2000BC, several largely complete pottery vessels and well preserved animal bones. The Pool was dug for aggregate which was used in the construction of the Blackwater Valley Road. Since then it has become a popular site for wetland birds.


  • 3. On emerging from the underpass turn right to pass through a metal gate and enter Tongham Community Wood. Follow the compacted gravel path straight through the site, then at the sharp bend turn left and continue along the route of the disused railway, to exit the wood at a metal gate.

Tongham Community Wood was originally part of a much larger woodland. The local community has formed the Tongham Wood Improvement Group to develop the site for recreation and wildlife.

  • 4. After leaving the garage area turn right, then second right, down a dead-end road. Just before the farm entrance on the left turn into an area used for storage by Grange Farm, which is a public footpath. Go through the gate and over a stile into a paddock. Cross the field and exit at the stile on the far side.
  • 5. At the road cross and continue to the right along the pavement on the opposite side. The road runs slightly uphill, passing the Hog's Back Brewery and then Tongham Ambulance Station, before passing under the A31 or Hog's Back. Pass under a second road then take the left fork of the pavement downhill away from the road. Descend to a dead-end road.

The Hog's Back formed part of a long-distance route from Marazion in Cornwall to the Straits of Dover, known as the Harrow Way. In 1643 the Roundheads used this route to save Farnham from destruction during the Civil War (1642-1649). It was first known as Geldedon around 1190 and Guildowne around 1485 then Gill Down until 1832, when the name Hog's Back came into popular usage.

North Downs Way

  • 6. Follow the road until you reach a crossroads, then take the public footpath across the road to the right. Continue several hundred metres across a drive, then on reaching a road turn left and proceed to join the North Downs Way at Blighton Lane.

The North Downs Way National Trail runs for 153 miles through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Much of the Trail follows the Pilgrim's Way, believed to be used by pilgrims on their way from Winchester to Canterbury to pray at the shrine of St Thomas Becket.

  • 7. Follow the road past the golf course and club house then turn right at the road junction. Look out for a left turn signed 'North Downs Way' opposite Swiss Cottage to cut through a wooded area. At the road turn left then right, still following the signs. Continue through the woodland, bordering houses. Turn right to stay on the North Downs Way.


  • 8. When the Way turns to the left, continue straight on. On reaching the road turn right and then left at a footpath on a sharp right-hand bend. The route passes through a wooded area called Runfold Wood, which is managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.
  • 9. Follow the path and road through Runfold, going straight on at the first junction, then left at the second. Continue up the steps and turn right at the top to take you over the A31. Keep to the right after crossing over the road and then take the steps on the right, which lead down to a dead-end road alongside housing.

Badshot Lea

Hop growing began in Farnham parish in the early 1600s. By 1875 there were 1,592 acres of hop fields. At various times there were at least six kilns at Badshot Lea, used for drying the hops. Only three have survived. One at Badshot Farm, now converted into flats and another part of a property in Crown Lane. But by far the most impressive reminder of the hop industry is the Old Kiln destined to be the village hall. It was built in 1884 and remained in use until 1972.

  • 10. When you reach the main road turn right and continue towards Badshot Lea. Take the first right, , down Low Lane then right into Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve. Follow the footpath round the perimeter fence and turn left. Turn right at the T junction and cross the bridge. Turn right and stop for a while and climb the mound to the hide and see if you can view the birdlife. Go through the metal gate and turn right onto the path, keeping right along the paths.

Tice's Meadow is a newly developed nature reserve on the site of the former Farnham Quarry. The habitats consist of open water, gravel islands and scrapes, reedbeds, scrub, woodland, ephemeral ponds and wet and dry grassland. The site is widely considered one of the best inland sites to watch birds in the southeast of England.

Blackwater Valley Path back to the start

  • 11. Just after the bridge over the river turn right to join the Blackwater Valley Path. Follow the Path, bordering the river, along the edge of fields and houses back to Aldershot Park. Turn left at the edge of the playing field to return to the car park.