River Wey walks: Dapdune Wharf to St Catherine's
Have a peek at the geographical importance of the River Wey. You'll be able to see how the river has cut through the North Downs making Guildford an important 'gap town'. There are some spectacular views at the highest point of the walk before you descend to the valley bottom.
Dapdune Wharf, grid ref: SU993502
Go out of the back gate of Dapdune Wharf towards the railway embankment and cross the river. (If Dapdune Wharf is closed, access the bridge from Woodbridge Road down a path at the end of the cricket ground). On the far side, turn away from the river and in a few yards turn left along the road between commercial buildings (Walnut Tree Close). The road bears left. After 100m pass King Edward Court on the right and in a few metres turn right up an access road, then continue ahead on a footbridge over the railway. Keep slightly left then go straight across a tarmac road following a signposted footpath with trees on the left. After an enclosed section climb a few steps to reach a residential road. Turn left along the road then follow the road as it curves right. At a larger road (Ridgemount), turn right and follow the road through a left curve. Ignore Cathedral Close on the right. Further along on the right is a pedestrian entrance to the cathedral up a long line of steps. You may wish to climb these steps and perhaps visit the Cathedral.
Dapdune was one of the first wharves established on the Wey Navigation and one of the busiest. Just a few years after the Navigation opened, London was devastated by the Great Fire of 1666. This created a huge demand for timber to rebuild the city and so wood became one of the most important cargoes to be transported downstream to London. In the 1890s, the Stevens family moved to the wharf and established it as the main boat yard on the navigation. Three generations of the family worked on the barges, before giving it to the National Trust.
Return to Ridgemount, turn right and continue ahead where this becomes Alresford Road, and at the end turn left into Benbrick Road. Cross The Chase and into Elmside. This area is part of Onslow Village. At a road junction go straight across heading for the Curling Vale road sign. Take the enclosed footpath ahead immediately to the left of this road sign. With care cross the A31 and take the footpath ahead climbing through trees. In a few yards emerge at the corner of a large open field. Keep slightly right to climb the right side of the field with trees nearby on the right. As you pause for breath, enjoy the views of Guildford to the left and the Cathedral behind you. At the far corner of the field pass through a line of trees to reach a narrow tarmac road that runs along the ridge of the North Downs. There are more views ahead through the trees.
Turn left along the roadway (the old Farnham Road turnpike) and follow the historical approach to Guildford down the hill, passing on the right the cemetery where Lewis Carroll is buried. At the bottom of the hill cross the Portsmouth Road (use pedestrian crossing a few yards to the right). Continue ahead, passing St Nicholas' Church and the White House.
Cross the pedestrianised Town Bridge. From the bridge look left to see Town Wharf. Cross the main road using the pedestrian crossing near Debenhams and go ahead for a short distance up the High Street as far as Quarry Street, the first road on your right. On Quarry Street, if you have time, you can visit the church, castle and museum. The far end of Quarry Street joins Millbrook. Cross the road here and pass The Weyside pub. Just after the rowing club turn right on a path behind the clubhouse. Soon pass through a kissing gate to join the riverside path beside Shalford Meadows. You may glimpse St Catherines Chapel on the hill in the distance ahead. When you come to the footbridge over the Navigation at Ferry Lane, cross over and turn right. After 20m, you can detour to St Catherine's Hill by turning left up Ferry Lane then just before the main road turn sharp left up the hill. After enjoying the chapel ruins and the views retrace your steps to the towpath and turn left.
It is worth having a quick look at Town Wharf - the main wharf for Guildford. You can see the extremely rare 17th-century crane and treadmill. It was powered by two men walking inside the treadwheel, rather like a hamster wheel. The crane was last in operation in the 1960s when raising stone for the building of Guildford cathedral. For its time, it was an innovative piece of machinery. This marked the end of the Navigation before the extension to Godalming was built in 1763.
Follow the towpath back towards Guildford. Opposite the rowing club keep left across Millmead meadow to reach Millmead Lock. At the lock, turn left to cross two footbridges and then turn right along the riverside to pass the Britannia Inn at Millbrook, with Town Mill and the Yvonne Arnaud theatre on the opposite bank. On reaching Town Bridge go straight across the end of the road into a car park. Follow the right side of the car park with Town Wharf on the opposite bank. Follow the towpath under two road bridges and a footbridge. After the towpath curves right Dapdune Wharf is ahead on the opposite bank. Continue along the towpath to the railway bridge. To return to (or visit) Dapdune Wharf turn right over the footbridge beside the railway bridge. At the end of the path turn right along the main road then take the next road on the right (Wharf Rd). To continue with the walk turn away from the river and in a few yards turn left along Walnut Tree Close as in the instructions for Waypoint 1
For centuries Town Mill was at the forefront of Guildford's cloth and corn industries, before being converted to a water pumping station. One of the old two-ton water turbines from the days of the pumping station has been preserved and now welcomes you at Dapdune Wharf. Debenhams was previously the site of Moon's Wharf - one of the biggest timber merchants in the county.
Dapdune Wharf, grid ref: SU993502
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