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Tracing a historic canal through the South — Wey-South Path

South Downs Walking (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tracing a historic canal through the South — Wey-South Path

Hiking Collection by Kit P

3-4

days

3-4 h

/ day

34.9 mi

975 ft

950 ft

The Wey-South Path is a wonderful 35-mile (53 km) footpath that follows the historic Wey & Arun Canal. Starting from Guildford and ending due south in Amberley, the canal was built to link the River Wey to the River Arun; the canal itself is largely defunct today, but its towpath provides a fantastic medium for exploring this beautiful, pastoral region. This trail also links the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way long-distance footpaths, so you might find yourself tempted to become somewhat of a pilgrim.

Thanks to its mostly towpath nature, this trail is rather gentle on the legs with minimal elevation gain and certainly nothing challenging. Instead, you can expect peaceful paths, quiet woodlands, pretty bridges, quaint villages and plenty of gorgeous locks. There are numerous pubs on or near the path too, so you’re never very far from a hot meal and a cosy place to put your feet up.

The landscapes along this route are rural, with fields unfolding in both directions, marshlands in the south, gently rolling hills and plenty of old farm houses punctuating the surroundings. You spend much of the time directly on the towpath although there are many sections where the path no longer exists, and you’re lead off on pretty forays through copses and across fields before returning to the waterside.

The trail intersects with several other long-distance paths, including the Downs Link, the Sussex Border Path and Greensand Way. Large sections are bridle path too, also used by horseriders and intrepid cyclists.

I’ve split this path into three stages of around 11 to 12 miles (18–19 km) so it makes for a lovely long weekend adventure. Alternatively, you could hike the trail in two days, particularly as it’s fairly flat. The stage ends are in fairly rural locations, so book accommodation in advance if you need it, as there are likely only one or two options or you might have to walk an extra mile or so off the trail to your bed for the night.

You can hike the trail throughout the year although I recommend opting to take it on between mid-spring and mid-autumn. During this half of the year, the wildlife and flora are at their most vibrant and you can take advantage of longer daylight hours, pub gardens and canalside picnic spots.

To reach the start in Guildford, you can arrive by train; the station is very close to the river which has a trail leading you directly to the start. At the end, hike the short distance to Amberley station which, although on a different train line, has trains that can return you to Guildford or elsewhere in the country.

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Wey-South Path

34.8 mi

1,000 ft

950 ft

Last updated: April 20, 2022

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Guildford to Alfold Crossways — Wey-South Path

    Intermediate
    04:38
    11.3 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The trail begins in the southern outskirts of Guildford on the riverside path. It’s just a short walk from Guildford train station, so it’s particularly easy to reach. This thriving town is also well served by cafes and supermarkets, so you can fill your rucksack up with food and drink before you set

    by Kit P

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  • Intermediate
    04:43
    11.4 mi
    2.4 mph
    200 ft
    350 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    A blend of canalside towpaths and serene, countryside footpaths, this stage is fantastically tranquil and has plenty of picnic spots. You begin at Laker’s Green near Alfold Crossways and head south along Alfold Road before striking off on a woodland path. This trail leads you back to the canal, this

    by Kit P

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  • Difficult
    05:09
    12.2 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    475 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This final stage of the Wey-South Path leads you along the canal’s towpath at first as it twists through the bucolic countryside. After a while, you briefly leave the canal to pass a farm before crossing over the canal and heading off across fields on a rather roundabout route through copses to cross

    by Kit P

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    34.9 mi
  • Duration
    14:31 h
  • Elevation
    975 ft950 ft

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