This walk is on the spur of the Greensands Way that goes from Thursley to Farnham rather than on the main path.
We found a good place to park the car to start our walk – Dyehouse Road car park in Thursley. We were even more pleased when we discovered it had a coffee trailer serving locally roasted coffee and cakes from the Bamboo Bakery using bramley apples from the village. We gladly gave them our custom and fuelled ourselves for our walk!
This walk is mainly on OS map 145, but annoyingly the car park is on OL33. The whole walk the path is sandy – which I guess shouldn’t be a surprise given it’s the Greensands Way, but it is a little bit odd walking on so much sand when you aren’t at the beach! However, it does mean the paths aren’t too muddy.
We started by skirting the edge of Thursley Common and venturing west to Hankley Common. This area is owned by the Ministry of Defence. There are lots of paths through the wooded heathland, but access is subject to the needs of miltary training. We didn’t see any military activity other than lots of portaloos around the place which we made use of!
Hankley Common has been used for filming TV shows and movies including the James Bond films The World is Not Enough, Die another Day and Skyfall. It also was the location of a real-life murder mystery which became known as ‘the Wigwam Muder’. In September 1942, a woman who was living rough in a crude shelter made of tree branches was killed. She was eventually identified as 19-year-old Joan Pearl Wolfe.
Damage from a series of wildfires which occured during the heatwave in July 2022, was still very evident. Each one was described by the fire services as a “major incident” and the smoke could be seen from Guildord and even the runway of Heathrow Airport. 19 fire vehicles were required to extinguish the blaze.
As we walked through an area of the common known as the Lion’s Mouth, we kept a look out for a large, overgrown concrete structure and managed to spot it through the trees. Prior to D-Day it was necessary for the Allied troops to train for Operation Overlord (the invasion of Northern France in 1944). Based on intelligence and air reconnaissance, the British & Canadian troops created a mock-up of Hitler’s ‘Atlantic Wall’ in 1943, so they could practice attacking it.
Our route then took us across Hankley Common golf course and right past the club house. We turned southeast at the Stockbridge Pond round Yagden Hill and found our way to the Moat Pond.
This pond is apparently used for an annual paper boat competition – with boats big enough for passengers! However, while we ate our lunch we were treated to another type of entertainment – a woman wading in the water doing a photoshoot in a cape!
We’d planned to walk across the common to Pudmore Pond, but the path was closed. They appeared to be repairing the board walk, so instead we went south and then east. Thursley Common is a national nature reserve and as well as extensive heathland, contains one of the last surviving areas of lowland peat bog in southern Britain. In May 2020 there was a fire and as we walked across the common we could see evidence of the area that had burned.
We headed south, and again had to detour a bit around closed paths, but we successfully wound our way back to Thursley Village and our car.
This circuit was about 8.5 miles.