Circular walk 3 – transported through Ash

An interesting walk linking the history of transport in the Valley. From the Old Railway Path to the canal towpath and the Blackwater Valley Path, created in association with the building of the A331.

About the walk

Start point: Coronation Gardens car park, Ash Hill Road, Ash GU12 5DN. SU 896514
Distance: 7.5 km / 4.5 miles
Walk time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Terrain: Flat, with some gentle slopes, steps and uneven ground.

Getting there

Rail to Trail: from Ash Station turn left to follow Church Road to the roundabout turn left into Ash Hill Road. Go up the hill and Coronation Gardens is on the right. Start the walk at point 1.


  • 1. At the car park entrance, looking over to the Victoria Hall, turn left and walk along the path following it uphill. Take the first road on the left which leads past Ash Youth and Community Centre. At the end of the surfaced road the path splits, take the left-hand fork and head slightly uphill into the Ministry of Defence area along a wide vehicle track.
Ash Victoria Hall was built in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The clock tower and its deep well were added in 1900, and the halls at the side in 1906. There are two foundation stones, either side of the front entrance, commemorating those involved in raising the hall. There are two inscriptions cut into the brickwork: 'Deeds not words prove mans worth' and 'work wins'.
  • 2. At the first crossroads turn right onto another wide ride heading downhill. Continue straight along this ride. On reaching a distinct clearing where six paths meet keep straight, taking the third path from the left. The path comes out at a parking area by the Curzon restaurant, go through the car park and turn right to reach the Guildford Road, A323.
The Curzon stands just inside the Parish of Normandy on its border with Ash. The boundary, now an unmade road, was once a stream with a ford where it crossed the road. The former Nightingale pub used to be a stopping point on the main coach route to Alton.
  • 3. Cross the road and go over the stile or head right, then enter a small recreation ground. Cross the field to the car park in the far right-hand corner and exit onto Harpers Road. Turn left and continue. Then take the first right, Ash Green Road, passing over the railway bridge and then take the first track on the left which is signed as a public byway.

Old Railway Path

  • 4. Keep to the left of the house entrance and join the bridleway which runs alongside fields on your left. Continue along this path, it will become a made-up track again and then pass a bridge to your left. Just after the bridge turn left down some rough steps to join the Old Railway Path.
    Note: If the bridleway is very muddy you can continue along Ash Green Road until the next footpath sign, which is Drovers Way. Then join the Old Railway Path via the steps on the right.
The Old Railway Path follows the route of the London and South Western Railway line, which ran from Southampton to Waterloo. The line was opened in 1849, but then was closed to passengers in 1937 and freight in 1960 during the Beeching Closures. The path is owned and managed by Guildford Borough Council as a footpath and bridleway. Some of the original railway sleepers have been used to construct benches and information boards along the path.
  • 5. Turn right to follow the path west. Continue along the path which runs in an almost straight line for 2 km. Take a look at Ash Green Meadows on your left and rejoin the path, until you reach a T-junction at the end of the path. Turn right and then onwards into Spoil Lane.
Ash Green Meadows is at South Lane, Ash, GU12 6NG. It has a large area of fenced meadow, with some boardwalks and surfaced paths, and benches and has links to longer walks along the disused railway track.
  • 6. At Manor Road, turn left and then right at the T-junction along Oxenden Road. Cross and immediately after The Cricketers pub turn left into The Moors. Continue down The Moors which starts as an unmade road and then continues as a surfaced path leading to an underpass under the Blackwater Valley Road.

Along the Blackwater Valley Path

  • 7. After passing through the underpass there is a vehicle barrier, turn right immediately after this and join the Blackwater Valley Path. Follow the Path north beside the river until it emerges onto the busy A323 Ash Road.
  • 8. This road needs to be crossed with great care, the best crossing point is clearly marked with signs for the Blackwater Valley Path. Turn right towards the roundabout then cross the Ash Road and rejoin the Path on the other side, following a surfaced entrance immediately before the roundabout. Remain with the Path and follow it left and then right across two wooden bridges over the river. Follow the Path underneath the aqueduct and then turn sharp left and up onto the canal towpath. Turn left and cross the aqueduct.
Dusk is a good time to spot Pipistrelle Bats hunting insects over the river. The Pipistrelle is Britain's smallest but commonest bat. Their flight appears fast and jerky as they dodge about pursuing small insects, which are caught and eaten in flight. A single Pipistrelle may consume up to 3,000 insects a night. Later in the evening Water (sometimes called Daubenton's) Bats can be seen as they fly low over the canal looking for insects which they take from the water's surface using their especially large and hairy feet. Water Bats roost in the trees around the lakes. All 17 species of British bats suffered major declines in the 20th Century but populations of these two species are slowly recovering.

Along the Basingstoke Canal

Construction of the Basingstoke Canal began in 1778. The 37 miles of canal from the Thames at Weybridge to Basingstoke, took eight years to construct and cost £180,000. It includes the 1,124m long brick lined Greywell Tunnel, which was one of the longest in the British canal system. This tunnel collapsed in the middle and was closed due to a roof fall in 1932. It now gives shelter to the largest population of hibernating and swarming bats of any known site in Britain. It was designated a SSSI for bats in 1985. Read more: Basingstoke Canal Society | Bat Conservation Trust

  • 9. Continue along the canal towpath underneath the railway bridge. After the next bridge turn left up the ramp onto Vale Road. Turn left across the bridge and into Ash Vale. Go straight across the roundabout, up the hill past the Ash Centre and playground to reach the car park on the left, completing the walk.