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Put Your Best Foot Forward And Go Walking For Health

Published on: 6 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 6 Jul, 2016

Guildford Walking for Health offers a number of regular free guided short walks aimed at helping people improve their fitness and wellbeing. Walkers get to meet others and explore the local countryside. Here DREW LERNIHAN describes a walk he went on that takes place on Mondays, starting in Boxgrove Park and taking in the Riverside Park Nature Reserve near Burpham.

Some of those who went on the walk on Monday.

Some of those who went on the walk on Monday. Walk organiser Annelize Kidd is standing far left.

The organiser for Walking for Health in Guildford is Annelize Kidd. I joined her and fellow walkers in the car park by Collingwood Crescent in Boxgrove Park. We walked on to Boxgrove Road and down to the roundabout at the top of Stoke Park.

From there we entered a small wood and took a footpath that goes behind the Spectrum leisure centre. The path was lovely and dense with trees. Despite the occasional noise from distant traffic, it was pleasantly peaceful.

Swan beside the River Wey.

Swan beside the River Wey.

The sun was shining as we walked beside the River Wey and then under a bridge with the A3 above us. Some swans were spotted floating along past us – an idyllic scene.

Cows near the footpath.

Cows near the footpath.

We even bumped into some cows, which were very cautious of us and stopped us in our tracks. However, they saw us back up and we quickly realised that our new bovine companions wanted to wander off the path into a field on our right.

As we started to break away from civilisation, the noise of the traffic subsided and we were completely left with just the group and the natural beauty around us. Birds were singing, other cows mingled in the picturesque fields lazily chewing on grass.

We neared our destination shortly after our confrontation with the cows – the Riverside Park Nature Reserve.

Walking through the nature reserve.

Walking through the nature reserve.

My fellow walkers were talkative and incredibly friendly, people shared conversations, jokes and often asked about my present position on work experience with The Guildford Dragon NEWS. There was a positive atmosphere and people seemed to be charged up by the fresh air and beautiful countryside.

One of the carved benches.

One of the carved benches.

I found the nature reserve has a strange but interesting layout. You can walk along boardwalks over marshy ground with plenty of hidden pools beneath. There are a number of benches, some with intricate carvings.

On the boardwalk.

On the boardwalk.

It was at about this time that it started to become slightly overcast, but with a pleasant breeze we continued on our way. Overall, the weather held and brightened up towards the end.

The lake at the Riverside Park Nature Reserve.

The lake at the Riverside Park Nature Reserve.

Annalize stopped the group near the main lake and explained how it came about. It had previously been quarried for gravel for the construction of the A3 that passes beside it.

After that section of the road was completed and quarrying had stopped rain filled the space thus creating a beautiful man-made lake.

We circled the lake and then began to make our way back taking a different path. It was there that Annalize showed us an incredible piece of Second World War history in the woods not far from the Spectrum leisure centre and Stoke Park. There are several rows of concrete anti-tank traps known as dragons’ teeth. Designed to slow and impede enemy tanks if Britian had been invaded and the German army passed this way.

The Second World War anti-tank traps in the wood near the Spectrum leisure centre.

The Second World War anti-tank traps in the wood near the Spectrum leisure centre.

You can even see remnants of iron loops on the tops of the traps.

We made our way out of the wood and took a slow walk back to the car park at Boxgrove.

All that natural scenery and fresh air seemed to reinvigorate everyone in the group, making us seem even more energetic after the walk than before it!

The group was kind enough to let me take a picture of them (seen above) and I asked them how they felt the walk went. One replied: “Fantastically, I think it went really well, good company, good weather, you can’t ask for more really.”

Another added: “The social interaction is lovely, it’s casual, it’s easy, we all get on really well and we all add something to the pot.”

Annelize said: “Everyone came back with big smiles on their faces.”

She explained her role as a walk organiser with Walking for Health, a national scheme that relies on local volunteers to organise and lead walks in their own areas.

Originally from South Africa, Annelize said she has had a passion for walking ever since she was young.

She said: “I remember going on a school trip, I was around 10 and I was absolutely blown away by the big outdoors. It’s just great to be out and breathe all that fresh air. It goes to your head and lifts you up tremendously.”

Annelize has recently been presented with a Macmillan Richard Hambro volunteer award for leadership, for all of her hard work dedicated to organising walks.

She said: “I felt really chuffed to bits, and if I could I would recommend all of my volunteers for awards.”

Walkers enjoying the countryside on their walk from Boxgrove to the Riverside Park Nature reserve and back.

Walkers enjoying the countryside on their stroll from Boxgrove to the Riverside Park Nature Reserve and back.

Guildford Walking for Health offers different types of walks in different areas to suit the needs of many different levels of physical fitness throughout each week.

The Whitmoor Walk Group meets on Friday mornings at the Jolly Farmer pub car park off Burdenshott Road (GU3 3RN) at 10.45am.

The walk begins at 11am and is described as an “easy, flattish walk” across Whitmoor Common, exploring the ponds, streams, woodlands and heath with an optional coffee afterwards at the Farmhouse Cafe at Rokers at Fairlands.

On Wednesday mornings you can join the Fairlands Walk group that meets at the Farmhouse Cafe at Rokers (GU3 3PB). Meet at 9.45am for either an hour walk or a 30-minute walk, both starting at 10am. The walks takes you across Merrist Wood Campus, or towards Perry Hill and back. An easy flattish walk with an optional coffee at the Farmhouse Cafe.

The Boxgrove Walk Group, offers more challenging walks starting from the car park near the shops in Cunningham Avenue (GU1 2PF), meeting at 9.45am every Monday morning. The walk starts at 10am and the routes change weekly to keep things mixed up.

A different set of monthly walks on Mondays are also offered by the Boxgrove Walking Group. The first week of the month sees a walk that takes you to the Riverside Park Nature Reserve – the one I went on. Please note, parts of the walk can be quite muddy during the winter months. The walk takes around 70 minutes.

The second week of the month sees a walk that will take you towards Newlands Corner, uphill across Merrow Downs and the Guildford Golf Club’s course. This walk can become quite steep in places but features lovely views, although you need to be reasonably fit for this one.

On the third week of the month a walk will take you to Pewley Down, duration about 90 minutes. It is uphill across Merrow Downs to Pewley Down and back. The surfaces on this walk can sometimes be quite uneven and muddy in winter months. While you need to be reasonably fit for this walk, you’ll be well rewarded with beautiful views.

The last walk of the week goes to Guildford town centre. It’s a short half-hour walk which leads into town for a coffee and chat on the last Monday of the month. This walk allows you to take the bus back or an optional half-hour walk back.

For more details check out the Guildford Walking For Health website.

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Responses to Put Your Best Foot Forward And Go Walking For Health

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    July 7, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Oh dear, Burpham’s ‘secret garden’, the Riverside Nature Reserve, discovered.

    If any one else wants to discover this idyllic location – it’s about an hour’s circular walk from Bowers Lane – up to Stoke Lock via the lake and back Down the Wey Navigation to Bowers Lock used as the location of a Morse episode.

    Please, if arriving by car, don’t park on the slope or on the lower section of the road especially not on the T junction. There is a car park. Also please take your litter home with you.


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