Rushali is a Postgraduate Student at the University of Surrey and enjoys exploring the surrounding areas.
On a sunny day with beautiful weather, a friend and I decided that we were going on a weekend trip to Woking. No big deal, right? A 10-minute train ride from Guildford and voila, you're at the destination. Or so we thought initially—then Storm Eunice happened and our trip got postponed by a day or two.
Although we'd been planning to visit Woking for some time, the lack of an itinerary or proper plan ultimately made this an impulsive decision. Post midnight, our chats went something like:
Me: 'Let's go tomorrow'
Friend: 'Oh where are we going?'
Still rainy and the after-effects of the storm still pretty evident, we started from our accommodation at Manor Park on Saturday. We took the bus to Guildford Railway Station and came across the kiosk for ticket booking (this was a first for me because there were no trains where I had lived so far). As dumb as we both were, instead of buying return tickets, we bought singles from Guildford to Woking. Then we asked around until we came across two gentlemen who were travelling to Woking as well.
To my train-illiterate self, the fact that the ticket could be used at any time of that day was a nice surprise. So we waited at Platform 6 where the train was supposed to arrive at 10 something. After a delay, it finally arrived and we boarded, mimicking the two gentlemen from earlier. But apparently, due to the weather, the train was not going anywhere. So we stepped out and made our way into the next train about 30 minutes later. It wasn't surprising anymore when they announced that the train had no driver and we had to get out.
I'm guessing it wasn't until 12pm that we finally boarded a train to Woking that was actually going to Woking. So we got out and saw what looked like a town centre.
At the entrance of High Street, visitors are greeted by The Wanderer, the popular larger-than-life statue by Sean Henry, a sculptor who was born in Woking. Several such works are noticeable throughout the town. Another one was the HG Wells statue which was unveiled on the 150th birth anniversary as a homage to his time in the town.
Once you walk past the Wanderer, there begins an array of shops and restaurants, some major outlets like Nandos, KFC, McDonald's alongside others offering international cuisines. After walking into closed doors of restaurants which open only at 5pm, we decided on getting lunch at KFC.
After having our fill, we set out to The Lightbox that was atop our list, quite frankly because of its proximity to the Railway Station.
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This was where both of us discovered that art wasn't our thing. After dragging ourselves to stand in front of a statue which I foolishly thought was Obama and unable to understand the philosophy behind the rest, we walked out of the place and started our walk to The Peace Garden.
I cannot in words describe the tranquility of both the place and the journey there. Do not take the bus or cycle—walk the Saturn Trail up until you reach Monument Road. The path is beside the Basingstoke Canal and gives you a refreshing view away from the town that is right beside it.
It is like an in-between that exists amidst the chaos and calm. The secluded vicinity is lined by forests, occasional views of ducks or swans and the noises of birds. Get out at Monument Road and turn left to reach the Peace Garden.
The Peace Garden is a burial ground for Muslim soldiers who died fighting as part of the British Army during World War I. It is open 7 days a week and can be visited at any time. The place gives a historic vibe and the scenery is fitting the purpose. The open-air environment gives it a unique aura.
Although Brookwood Cemetery was the next stop, it was 4pm by the time we left Peace Garden. The uncertainty of train timings and the rain starting to pour had us rethinking our decisions. An hour or so later, we returned to Guildford town centre. After a desperate hunt for water-resistant jackets and two dinner takeaways later, we decided to call it a day.
That trail had me in the first half and frankly, I'm returning probably only to walk that path. Until next time, Woking..
© 2022 Rushali Prasad