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Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills

There are currently 8 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills
Author: Claire, Published: 07 Aug 2011 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide star1 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide star1 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide star1 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide star0 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide
Surrey, Waverley
Walk Type: History trail
Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide boot Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide
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0001_sunny Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide Today's weather
19 °C, Clear/sunny, Wind: 11 mph E
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A 5 mile circular walk around the footpaths and lanes of the Surrey Hills taking in Blackheath Common (250 acres of lowland heath), the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills, the Tilling Bourne (a small tributary to the River Wey) and the picturesque village of Albury. A wonderful mix of woodland, heath, fields, riverbanks and lanes there is something for everyone on this walk. Much of the walk is relatively flat, with only a couple of steady gradients and there are just three stiles all of which are low and have gaps at the side to allow dogs to pass through easily. Some of the paths can be a little narrow and overgrown so you might want to think twice about wearing shorts unless you’re immune to nettles and brambles! The surfaces are pretty good but of course are likely to be muddy in wet weather. Approximate time 3 hours.

Free parking is available at the Blackheath Common car park on Blackheath Lane. Blackheath Common lies to the east of Blackheath village. Blackheath village is east of the B2128 and south of the A248. Approximate post code is GU4 8RD. The nearest station is Chilworth which is about one mile to the north (if you come by train you can adjust the walk by starting and finishing in Chilworth rather than Blackheath).

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Walk Sections

Blackheath to Chilworth
Blackheath to Chilworth

Start point: 51.2056 lat, -0.5183 long
End point: 51.2138 lat, -0.5345 long

Free parking is available at the Blackheath Common car park on Blackheath Lane. Leave the car park and head back along Blackheath Lane the way you drove in. At the Villagers’ Inn public house (closed at the time of writing) fork right down a small wooded footpath to the left of the large oak tree and marked with a small wooden marker post painted with a pale blue band.

Continue along the path through the woodland, following the blue ringed wooden marker posts. When you come to the T-junction with the road, cross over and veer slightly to the right to follow the marked bridleway. Walk straight on into the open heathland. At the first crossroads in the path, go straight on and then turn left to join the wider stone track. On your left you’ll pass a private residence with a large wooden framed archway into its courtyard – continue along the track to the right of the house. At the end of the house’s boundary fence, fork right down a narrow bridleway with steep sides and overhanging arches of trees. Continue all the way down this bridleway (it can be narrow and overgrown) until you emerge facing Phoenix Cottage.

Follow the boundary of Phoenix Cottage, keeping the cottage on your right and you will pass a footpath on your left. Continue down the stone track until to emerges at a T-junction with the road in Chilworth.

Chilworth to the Tilling Bourne
Chilworth to the Tilling Bourne

Start point: 51.2138 lat, -0.5345 long
End point: 51.2174 lat, -0.5341 long

Cross over the road and turn right heading towards the level crossing. Pass through the level crossing and then take the second road on the left called Blacksmith Lane. Continue down Blacksmith Lane for several hundred yards, then look out for green painted metal gates on your right.

Pass through the gates to begin your journey through the scheduled ancient monument of the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills. Take time to read the information board on your left which explains the history of this section of the Chilworth Valley and its connection with gunpowder from 1625 to 1920.

Along the Tilling Bourne
Along the Tilling Bourne

Start point: 51.2174 lat, -0.5341 long
End point: 51.2171 lat, -0.5302 long

Follow the path into the woodland with the river on your left. Follow the path as it bends to the right crossing a bridge over a cascade of water and some of the remains of the gunpowder mills. On your left you’ll see the first example of a mill stone set into the ground. Continue the path straight ahead and then follow it as it bends to the left. On your left you’ll come across further remains of the mill, a row of old mill stones and behind it, a row of old brick pillars that formed part of the mill structure.

The Chilworth Gunpowder Mills were established in 1626 and the site was very extensive. At a time when Britain seemed to be eternally at war or under threat, not just from foreign powers but also from influences within, the powder mills played an important part in keeping the guns firing. The mills employed 600 people at their peak but this highly productive industry also brought with it inherent danger which led to frequent fatal accidents. The site was perfect for the process, the Tilling Bourne ensured a good flow of water to power the mills, and alders grew profusely in the area making good charcoal for the gunpowder. The hopfield above the mill ponds produced beer brewed specially for the workers.

Today the isolation of the site has helped to support a wide variety of rare species including the endangered common dormouse. The river is still home to industry including a trout farm, watercress beds and a business growing reeds.

Tilling Bourne to Mill Pond
Tilling Bourne to Mill Pond

Start point: 51.2171 lat, -0.5302 long
End point: 51.221 lat, -0.5137 long

With the row of mill stones on your left continue ahead to follow the track for some distance (passing a picnic area along the way). When you come to a large horse chestnut tree on your right, which has a large root mass creating a tall mound above ground, turn left along another footpath. On your right you’ll see further building remains related to the gunpowder mills.

Pass through the kissing gate and, should you wish, turn left to access a beautiful shallow section of the Tilling Bourne which is perfect for doggy paddling on a hot day. Otherwise, after the kissing gate, emerge onto a lane and turn right. After a few yards, cross the stile on your left into a field marked with a green footpath sign. The field will probably be holding several very friendly horses. Go diagonally across the field and cross a second stile and follow the path straight ahead over the second field. Cross over the third stile at the far side of this field and follow the path between two fields.

As the path narrows between hedgerows take the right hand fork, pass through a small fence with a footpath arrow marker, and follow the boundary of the property to your left. You’ll hear the sound of fast following water as you emerge out of the path onto a tarmac road with a large mill pond in front of you.

Mill Pond to Albury
Mill Pond to Albury

Start point: 51.221 lat, -0.5137 long
End point: 51.2205 lat, -0.4988 long

Continue ahead, crossing the bridge with the two low red brick walls either side. Follow the tarmac road as it bends to the right with the mill pond on your right. The stream will be running on your right. As the tarmac road bends to the left, fork right along a stone footpath marked with a signpost with a picture of a dragonfly. Pass through the gap in the fence to emerge onto the main road.

Cross over the road and turn left to follow the pavement. Soon you’ll pass the sign marking the start of Albury village. Follow the path alongside the road as it takes a long bend to the right and then bends to the left towards the centre of Albury village. Opposite the post office, you’ll see a sign marking Weston Fields. Ahead you’ll see the Drummond Arms public house which is well worth a stop if you’d like some refreshments. The pub allows dogs in both the bar area and the beautiful garden which backs onto the river.

Albury to Blackheath
Albury to Blackheath

Start point: 51.2205 lat, -0.4988 long
End point: 51.2104 lat, -0.5057 long

Turn up Church Lane signed towards Weston Fields. By the Round House take the right fork up Blackheath Lane. The lane has steep sides of vegetation and overhanging trees which form beautiful arches and create lovely shade on hot days. Take some time to enjoy the interesting rock formations which are home to the trees on the steep banks. After the barn follow the lane round to the right and back down hill.

Shortly after passing under the brick arch of the railway, fork right signposted public footpath. Follow this track as it bends round to the left with a set of stables on your left. Head down to cross a small concrete bridge, another useful place for a doggy paddle.

Climb the short hill ahead, pass the metal gate into another set of stables on your right and then turn left marked with a green footpath sign immediately before a house on the left.

Into Blackheath Common
Into Blackheath Common

Start point: 51.2104 lat, -0.5057 long
End point: 51.2056 lat, -0.5171 long

Follow this sandy footpath with a plantation on the right and as you enter Blackheath Common you’ll come to a star junction of multiple sandy paths. Take the path at about 2 o’clock, heading uphill diagonally to the right. Follow this path as it bends to the left at the top and then continues straight ahead undulating through tall pine trees.

As the path becomes sandy and you come across a selection of blue ringed wooden marker posts on your left, fork to the right through a gap in a staggered fence along a sandy path. Continue straight on through another pair of staggered fences. Pass through the final staggered fence, and choose the middle of the three paths to the right. You’ll see the car park ahead of you through a metal gate.

Blackheath Common is 250 acres of heathland, much of which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its population of many rare heathland species such as the sand lizard and ground nesting birds such as the woodlark and nightjar.

Walk straight ahead to your car.

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network Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2011 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


8 comments for "Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills"

Great walk. We liked the circular track and the different areas of the walk from waterside to woodland. We also had lunch in a pub in Albury

By Richard on 02 Sep 2011

Beautiful walk. Very varied and worthwhile stopping for a drink by the pub -Drummond-in Albury (seats by the stream) and do take a small detour to the church in Albury. A lot of nettles at the start only had me regretting wearing shorts but no issues after. Highly recommended

By davidkennedy on 28 Sep 2014

Great walk but a bit slippery on downhill footpaths due to the previous wet weather. Found out a bit of history I did not know. Really enjoyed it

By esjayem on 24 Feb 2015

A lovely walk. Great, varied scenery. The directions were excellent. The gap in the fence mentioned in the penultimate paragraph is actually a staggered wooden fence but apart from that minor detail, everything was very clear.

By suefrancis on 08 Apr 2015

Excellent walk very diverse , most enjoyable!

By Ratso on 28 Sep 2015

Wonderful walk. Good variety of habitats and sights. Good length and not too challenging.

By Herd on 30 May 2016

Great walk but please note when looking for the chestnut tree with large mound of grass over roots just keeping walking past picnic area and up to almost river where main building sits on left.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thanks for the extra tip - we have added your note about passing the picnic area. Remember to always use the live GPS map on the iFootpath App as well as the directions to double check your position. Glad you enjoyed the walk.

By edwardboxall on 29 Jan 2017

Andy B: Had a great walk around Blackheath & Albury. Drummond Arms a good stop for lunch but busy so best to book a table.

By Facebook on 20 Feb 2017

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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2 gallery images for "Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills"

244_0Richard1314992474 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 02 Sep 2011
View across the fields in an early section of this lovely walk.
244_0Richard1314992731 Blackheath and Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 02 Sep 2011
The pine forests at the end of the walk as you head towards the car park

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