Guildford to Godalming via the Wey and Godalming Navigations

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'Everybody that has been from Godalming to Guildford, knows that there is hardly another such a pretty four miles in all England. The road is good; the soil is good; the houses are neat; the people are neat: the hills, the woods, the meadows, all are beautiful. Nothing wild and bold, to be sure, but exceedingly pretty; and it is almost impossible to ride along these four miles without feelings of pleasure, though you have rain for your companion, as it happened to be with me'. William Cobbett, 1822.

The Wey Navigation opened in 1653 and was one of the first British rivers to be made navigable. In 1764 the Godalming Navigation opened, creating a twenty-mile waterway running from the Thames at Weybridge to Godalming, now the southernmost part of the inland waterway network. Originally the Wey Navigations were used for transporting bargeloads of heavy goods via the Thames to London. Timber, coal, corn, flour, wood and even gunpowder were regularly moved up and down the waterway.

Later, in 1796 the Basingstoke Canal was dug and connected to the Wey and in 1816 the Wey and Arun Junction Canal was opened, connecting with the Wey at Stonebridge (now right under the M25).

The Wey, unlike many other less efficient waterways, survived the railway era and under private ownership continued to trade until well after the Second World War. The last owners, Stevens & Sons, donated the Wey to the National Trust in 1964 and today it is one of the few financially self-supporting waterways, having no call on the Trust's general finances or on public funds. Harry Stevens is commemorated in the name of a trip boat which carries passengers up and down the canal.

The Navigations are now managed and protected for their long-term preservation as a recreational asset and a living piece of industrial archaeology. Note that this is a linear walk; return is by bus or train.

England - South England - Surrey - River Walk


Birds, Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Industrial Archaeology, Mostly Flat, Museum, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife
6/27/2012 - Ian Mapp

Straightforward walk - navigation cannot be easier - just follow the water. I did it the other way around. Not much to look at, apart from some illegal horses and Pill Boxes. Thanks for the walk.

6/6/2011 - Claudia Faucherand

Another fabulous walk by Richard. Really enjoyed the walk and his guide, which was so informative. I have already recommended it to some of my friends. Many thanks again!

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