Graham Pearcey

Graham Pearcey

Walk number 6

Brookwood Cemetery and Pirbright (10.36 miles / 16.68 km / 4.25 hours):

Pirbright St Michael & All Angels Pirbright Basingstoke Canal
Photos copyright © Graham Pearcey 2011

Please click here for a map of the route.

  • Use the small public car park on Avenue De Cagny, Pirbright, Woking, GU24 0JE. (Signs state that the maximum stay Monday to Friday is 4 hours. This should be – just about – sufficient.)
  • With your back to the car park, turn right into Avenue De Cagny and right again onto a signed Public Footpath. At a cross-paths on the green take another right (the duck pond is now to your left), emerge onto the A324 opposite a side road signposted Pirbright Parish Church, then walk along that side road.
  • Enter the churchyard on your right. See the granite lump marking the grave of Sir Henry Morton Stanley and continue along the churchyard path, past the church’s south door and out to the footpath beyond it, where there's a book exchange box.
  • Turn right and walk along the path between fields. Cross over a road and take the public footpath through the wood. Ignore a side path on the right towards a children’s playground, and soon reach a road junction. Cross Gole Road carefully. Take the left hand footpath under the railway arch and then immediately bear left to cross over the Basingstoke Canal at Pirbright Bridge. Do NOT take either towpath but continue along the pavement on the right hand side of the road.
  • Just after the two driveways at the bend, turn right onto the marked footpaths. Take the left hand footpath until there is a wire fence to your right, but turn right before the fence to reach a pair of wooden gates leading into Sheet’s Heath. The path through these gates climbs a hill, merges with another path from the left, and reaches a narrow tarmac lane. Cross the lane to follow the wide track beyond the barrier. Ignore the many side paths until, after about 500m, you should see telegraph poles in front of the boundary trees to your right.
  • As the current track reaches its closest point to the telegraph poles, turn right onto a path that cuts through the heather to the poles. Pass through a kissing gate and turn right onto a wide track. At a junction after 60m go straight ahead onto a road that passes another telegraph pole (right) and Sheets Cottage (left). The road descends and then rises again to reach the canal. Bear left with the road and join the Basingstoke Canal towpath, popular with ducks. Pass under the cart bridge and keep ahead, passing locks 14 and 13 after 380m and subsequently reaching lock 12.
  • At the far end of lock 12 you reach Bagshot Road and cross it carefully at the nearby traffic lights, returning to the canal via the pavement on the other side. Descend to the good quality towpath such that the canal’s now on your left. After about 1km pass houses but continue along the towpath to proceed under a road bridge (Hermitage Bridge) and subsequent footbridge, eventually reaching Kiln Bridge on the main road through St John’s village.
  • Turn right, but you immediately turn right again along the pavement. In 60m, at a junction, cross the road to proceed along the tarmac track opposite, with the park and playground to your right.
  • Keep ahead into woods, and in 400m cross the railway via the footbridge. At the end of this footbridge immediately turn right through a new kissing gate and follow the sometimes overgrown path parallel to the railway.
  • This path emerges onto the golf course but continues along the right hand edge until the second Public Footpath signpost directs you to bear left across the golf course fairway toward a third such signpost, passing bunkers on your left and right. This third signpost points you over a stone bridge to reach a strip of woodland where there’s a fourth such sign. Keep following yellow arrows and footpath signs over two more fairways, then into a denser wood. You have reached the half way point of the walk.
  • At the end of the path through the wood, turn left to reach a road. Turn right and proceed along the edge of the road, taking care as there’s no pavement and crossing to the left before reaching the railway arch. Beyond the arch, cross back to the right hand side of the road when a pavement starts on that side. Turn right at the junction but then immediately turn right again to descend to the towpath. Retrace your steps to the cart bridge. 50m before the cart bridge, bear right onto the road in order to cross the canal via the bridge. Proceed along Sheets Heath Lane before crossing the main road with care to take the access road to Brookwood Station.
  • Using the main door, pass through the station tunnel (ask to be admitted through the ticket barriers if necessary) and push the gate to enter Brookwood Cemetery. Turn right onto Pine Avenue. Pass (behind a blue arch) graves of Turkish airmen, then at the triangular junction, bear left down the hill, and through a gate onto a tarmac drive. Take the next turning on the right and subsequently turn left to pass through the ‘Memorial to the Missing’.
  • Turn left onto Long Avenue and pass the Czechoslovakian plot (right). Pass through a gate. Stay on Long Avenue which eventually bears right beyond Railway Avenue. The very last grave on the left is Alfred Bestall, the author and illustrator of ‘Rupert’ books. Reach a main road.
  • Cross to the other part of the cemetery. Proceed along the main tarmac drive eventually reaching the St Edward Shrine Church, where you fork right into St Chad’s Avenue. Ignore St Mark’s Avenue on your right and pass the Serbian Orthodox Cemetery, but after some time you reach a crossing with another section of St Mark’s Avenue.
  • Here turn left noting the distinctive lych gate of St Alban’s parish plot. After about 500m pass through a gate; then on leaving the cemetery take the right fork to a crossing with a broad, grassy track. Turn right then immediate left onto a wide path through trees. At the barrier turn right onto a byway and reach a tarmac lane.
  • Turn left, pass three properties, then take a track to the right – Whites Lane. At the end go left, but just before Whites Farm take the Public Footpath (look for the partially hidden sign) right through a new gate. Bear left but diverge from the boundary of the field towards a similar gate 60m from the left corner (look for the yellow waymarker sign) and proceed over the bridge and straight along the path through the wood and subsequent plantation.
  • At the very end of the path, turn left along the track which becomes a tarmac drive and passes Cricketers Cottage to reach a road. Proceed straight ahead into Avenue De Cagny to return to your car.

This route was last attempted on 31 January 2024, but unfortunately the St John's railway footbridge has been demolished. Please e-mail me if you find any errors, if you would like a copy in Word format, or if you would prefer a version that starts and ends at Brookwood station.

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