Get Lost In… Shere

Each week we will be bringing you some Hidden Gems from around Guildford as part of our Get Lost In… feature. This week’s post features a beautiful description of a walk from Guildford to Shere from ‘As I Walked Out’, a poetic and intimate blog written by local resident Tom Burgess who grew up in central Guildford, but has recently moved back to the area, now living in Shalford. His blog describes his meanderings around Guildford, musing over the beauty and tranquillity that our town has to offer and each instalment charts the changes of the seasons throughout the year. The blog title is a nod to a book written by British poet Laurie Lee called ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ which describes his epic journey after leaving the sanctuary of his little village in the Cotswolds.

So No Snow HO HO HO

I am writing this winter instalment as January nears its end. I have been waiting for some classic wintery weather so as to indulge in some nostalgic frost tinted descriptions. I had hoped to dot this piece with a blizzard of Christmas character and imagery. Alas not one barren field frozen with snow has presented itself for imprinting.

Instead I will reflect on this year’s Christmas walk, an event I organise each year, a lovely occasion to breathe sharp, bright air and chat with faces fair. This year, despite the party being somewhat overdressed for the mild weather, we were stuffed with the anticipation of Christmas. We headed off from the North Downs on Pewley Hill for Shere, a hearty rabble. To prove to ourselves we were no longer 17 (our age at the very first annual walk) we rang ahead to the White Horse to warn them of our planned invasion, however this was done in such a jovial manner they thought it was foolishness. They would have to wait for the proof of our arrival. The White Horse is an old, gnarled building full of warmth and wood wise experience. Built around 1500, it became an inn in the 17th century. Like many pubs, it seems to be getting increasingly more corporate and algorithmic yet on balance it does retain some of its charm. Certainly the village of Shere is so picturesque it does half of the work for the pub, such is the joy of arriving into the quaint patter of the village after being among trees, mud, hedgerow and fresh air (except the bit where you pass a landfill site).

The White Horse- Shere

Our route had taken us over the top of St Martha’s which featured in my previous post. We skidded down the sandy track past the hexagonal Pillbox. This war time feature fails to evoke the fearful spirit of a different time, having hosted more childhood games than deadly fighting- the mossy lump instead looks a part of the harmonious woodland now. We skirted along the tailcoats of Newlands Corner and resisted the urge to run up the hill for an early break of tea and chips at the Barn or indeed to take in the wonderful view. Instead we continued in one another’s easy company towards the silver wood. It was the perfect dappled light to take in Henry Drummonds mortuary chapel, the rose window never fails to capture my attention from a distance, I find it gives off a mysterious circular whirring, almost hypnotic.

Time passed quickly as did the miles, we nestled right into the Tillingborne Valley where Shere can be found in no time at all. As far back as Norman times the settlement would have sprung up around the life giving water of the duck quaking, children playing, fresh and buoyant little stream. To our surprise a whole room had been set aside for us on arrival at the pub, precaution or hospitality we were not certain, all the same a cosy hollow for our conversation and laughter to continue.

Had we not sought sanctuary for so long we might have had time to visit the Silent pool and strain our senses for a feel of the drowned maiden who met her fate whilst escaping the clutches of Prince John. The very same Prince John depicted by Disney as a thumb sucking lion. This sparked a host of songs, Christmassy and otherwise, music escorting us easily to a waiting feast. Regardless of whether you have any of your own customs or not, I would thoroughly recommend starting your own traditions, especially if they encourage you and those you love to explore the natural treasure on our doorstep.

Tom Burgess

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