Want a day away from the capital but that is easy to get to? Try Farnham. It just so happens that Soph’s grandparents live there which is our excuse to pop down but here is some ideas for you based on a few of our visits.
A short walk up hill from the town centre lies this historic castle. The ruins of the 12th century keep are open to the public for free daily by English Heritage with a small museum also present in the courtyard below. The rest of the more modern (well, 17th century is more modern than the keep) buildings are the Bishops palace and nowadays form a conference centre and wedding venue with other arts of the former grounds used as a cricket pitch.
A castle has been on the site since 1138, built by the grandson of William the Conqueror and was home to the Bishops of winchester for around 800 years. Henry VIII destroyed the original but it was soon rebuilt which is what we see the remains of today. The cardinal who presided on the trial of Joan of Arc lived here for a while but the destruction of the current keep was done in the cvil war, in a similar vain to Corfe Castle, to stop it being used as a fortress.
If you enjoy old ruins, then a visit to the other side of the town is in order. Here lies the remains of Waverley Abbey, destroyed by (you guessed it) Henry VIII. It was founded in 1128, with the fist monks shipped over from Normandy, and it lived a turbulent life through flood and only turning very slender profits. After is was dissolved, some of it’s stones were used to construct the manor house on the other side of the river but many walls remain including a marvellous vaulted ceiling. Entry is free, but it is quite a walk down narrow country lanes – there is a car park, however, if you drive down. Wikipedia will give you a lot more of it’s history if you are interested.
The town centre
If you want buildings that are less open the the elements, a stroll around the town centre may be ideal for you. The usual chain stores are housed in various buildings from across the centuries. A museum is also located in the centre along with parks and public works of art such as the pictured lion and lamb sculpture.
A circular valley walk
Want to get away from the hustle and bustle. Take a stroll down into the valley to the east. We headed out to Old Compton Lane on the outskirts of the town and from there headed down hill paster Culverlands to the pretty High Mill House where you have to rather strangely go through the gate and along their drive. Turn back down past Moor Park Farm and you eventually reach the road and join the North Downs Way. Follow it back to the junction of paths by Culverlands where you can either head back up to Old Compton Lane or turn it into a figure of eight walk and head back towards the station. I’ve included here a handy OS map of our hour long walk.
The North Downs Way
While reading up about the national trails before our most recent trip down, I made the discovery that we’ve actually walked some of the North Downs Way without realising it. One day we shall have to walk it properly, but I was amazed to find out that the trail ran past the front door of our house when we lived down in Canterbury, then preceded to carry on along St Peter’s Street and past a flat Soph lived in once before we moved in together drawing a nice neat line between the two. Yes, the trail is definitely one to walk in the future. We know the start, the middle is not far away from the LOOP and we know the area near the end. A fun revisit for the future. Lets finish the LOOP first though, eh.