Antiques & Ales: A Day Out Near Farnham By Bike
Written by Jaillan Yehia
I recently moved to Farnham, Surrey, a pretty market town less than an hour’s train ride from London.
I decided to get out my trusty bike and pedal my way through some local Surrey highlights.
This is the story of a leisurely day out which you can try too – exploring the picturesque town, rural antique shops and a craft brewery in the countryside just south of Farnham, all by bike.
My most recent overseas trip was a cycling holiday to France, but despite good intentions to go on long cycle rides in the countryside near my house to warm up, I failed spectacularly at using my own bike to go anywhere more exciting than the gym and the supermarket.
I’m sure a lot of people find themselves thinking, like me, that they’ll get out and about locally more come summer, so when a company specialising in slow travel and cycling called Inntravel asked me to join their campaign to discover cycling adventures close to home, I knew this was the inspiration I needed to step away from the computer for a day.
And if you’re hoping to do the same and fancy a day out exploring Farnham by bike popping in at countryside antique stores, cobbled streets, country lanes and tasting local ales, all at a slower pace, this could be the day out for you.
If you follow me on Instagram you’ll probably know that I love cycling in cities and towns, I cycle around London loads and I have got on my bike (or rather someone else’s bike) in places as varied as Laos and Nicaragua, Denmark and Slovenia.
But I am not into mountain biking, or anything adrenaline-related on two-wheels. I like my biking slow and sedate, peaceful and pleasurable so that’s just what this day out in Farnham by bike will be.
Getting To Farnham (Not By Bike)
If you’re coming from London you can pick up one of the numerous South West Trains services to Farnham from Waterloo (or try Clapham Junction if you live south already). If you’re coming from somewhere else I can’t help you, as I don’t know where you live but there may well be a train – and if not you could always drive: there are a couple of easy to find car parks in the centre of Farnham.
The station itself is very close to the middle of town so it will be simple for you to jump on your bike and start exploring.
Coffee In Farnham
Where you go in Farnham is entirely up to you – like most market towns there’s a nice sprinkling of boutiques, and a few great places to grab a coffee or a snack before you head off on your bike ride.
Most are chains, though I really like The Botanist and there are some nice independent places like Lion and Lamb in a gorgeous cobbled courtyard just off the main street – which is called West Street.
Around Farnham By Bike – The Antique Agenda
I discovered that very close to my house, and only about a 3 mile cycle from Farnham is a little enclave of antiques warehouses around Runfold on the northern edge of the South Downs.
Though the word warehouse does little to accurately describe the delightful and highly historic environments you’ll find. I had driven past this sign in my car countless times and always vowed to stop one day, before I made time to come by bike.
The Antiques Warehouse
First stop is The Antiques Warehouse, described as an ‘exciting and unusual antiques centre and in an incredibly charming setting on a farm, meaning you’ll see horses on your way in.
You’ll do a double take once you enter the building – I couldn’t believe just how many amazing items were packed inside the Elizabethan barns; paintings and prints, kitchenware and ceramics, clothing and jewellery, you could spend hours browsing.
The word treasure trove is probably overused, but if anywhere deserves the description this has to be it – a chair from the 17th century, a rolling pin from the 19th or a diamond ring from the 20th, it’s all here.
The Antiques Warehouse is open 7 days a week, 10.30am to 5pm.
It’s just a couple of minutes pedalling away until you’re at the next gorgeous Surrey location on your cycling day – though it’s pretty close to the Hampshire border round here too – and that’s Packhouse Farnham.
New meets old in this large sprawling historic building with the slogan ‘Lose yourself amongst beautiful things’ and it’s easy to do just that.
They sell their own things, as well as eclectic wares brought in by 65 traders – including everything from old curiosities to greeting cards and candles so its a fun place to meander.
There’s even a restoration company on site dedicated to reimagining cast offs and turning them into desirable shabby chic stock.
They also run events, workshops and have partnered with a new cafe and restaurant, Bears, which is ideal if you’re ready for a bite before moving onto beer.
The Packhouse is open 9.30am to 5.30pm and 10am to 4.30pm sundays and Bank Holidays.
On To Ales
Another surprising turn up on my cursory glance around my local neighbourhood was a really cool looking brewery – Hogsback Brewery is a family-owned business which uses mostly hops from within 5 miles of the 18th Century farm buildings which house the brewery.
They also planted a hop garden here which grows a variety unique to this part of Surrey – Farnham White Bine hops – so if you’re a beer enthusiast there’s something unique for you here and the brewery has an onsite shop and runs Hogsback brewery tours daily.
Being on a bike means that you can have a tipple without worrying about driving – just be extra careful on your cycle back to Farnham station.
I’m so glad InnTravel asked me to collaborate on this post to help promote their local cycling adventures campaign – because otherwise I’d still be driving past the signs in my car and be none the wiser.
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