Harrow Way

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The Old Way marked in red with the Pilgrims Way marked in orange, key locations in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle are labelled black

The Harrow Way (also spelled as "Harroway") is another name for the "Old Way", an ancient trackway traced across the southern counties, alleged to be a prehistoric long-distance route between Devon and Kent. Parts of the route have been dated by archaeological finds to around 600 to 450 BC, but a route may have been in existence since the Stone Age.[1][2]

The Old Way ran from Seaton in Devon to Dover, Kent. In the 19th century, the eastern part of the Harrow Way become known as the 'Pilgrims' Way'; a route invented by Albert Way of the Ordnance Survey, who imagined it (without evidence) to have been a pilgrimage route between Winchester in Hampshire, by way of Farnham in Surrey, to Canterbury in Kent.[3][4] The western section of the Harrow Way ends in Farnham; the eastern in Dover.

The name 'Harrow Way' may derive from hereweg, a military road, or har, ancient (as in hoary) way, or heargway, the road to a shrine. Enthusiasts have described it as the 'oldest road in Britain' and is claimed an association with ancient tin trading. [5]

Woodland near Overton, Hampshire
Road overlying the Harrow Way in Basingstoke

The Old Way

The Eastern part of the Harrow Way

The eastern part of the Harrow Way or Old Way from Farnham, Surrey is a popular footpath, romantically dubbed the Pilgrims' Way in the 19th century: it runs on or parallel to the North Downs Way National trail. The Harrow Way can be traced from Rochester and alternative Channel ports on the Straits of Dover. A principal track also starting in the valley of the Great Stour from Canterbury, to lead along the North Downs or its southern slopes, through Maidstone and Guildford to Farnham, Surrey. With its natural season-round well-drained soil, slightly more humus-rich than the crest itself, forming the most travelled of often several terraced routes. [6]

Farnham was an aggregation point for travellers joining from the south coast.[6] Gibson reports the section going eastward just north of Farnham ran through the area now Farnham Park and continued its course along the chalk outcrop, crossed the Bagshot Road where the Six Bells pub now stands and continued past Badshot Lea, Surrey where an important Neolithic Long Barrow burial mound (tumulus) was found. The Harrow Way then continues to the crest of the Hog's Back where the ancient trackway is known to have run.[7] There are several barrows along the Hog's Back.

Western section

Surviving track north-east of Overton, Hampshire

The western part of the Old Way, the Harrow Way, can be traced from Farnham, Surrey west through Basingstoke and Andover to Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge, Wiltshire, through Dorset and on to Seaton on the Devon coast.[5][8]} In Dorset, the Harrow Way can be traced through the villages of Halstock and Corscombe, where it is known as Common Lane. At the Halstock end, a short length was realigned to form the access for a Roman villa (which was built on the site of a late Iron Age farmstead). [9]


  1. Edward Wedlake Brayley (1850). A topographical history of Surrey. 4. London: G Willis. p. 218. OCLC 4601837. 
  2. Ivan Margary (1948). Roman Ways in the Weald. London: J M Dent. pp. 260–263. ISBN 0-460-07742-2. 
  3. Alexander, Matthew; Tales of Old Surrey ISBN 0-905392-41-8
  4. Hooper, Wilfrid (1936). "The Pilgrims' Way and its supposed pilgrim use". Surrey Archaeological Collections (Guildford: Surrey Archaeological Society) 44: 47. "In their train have followed the host of guide-books and popular writers who have expanded and embellished ad libitum as fancy prompted". 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Daily Telegraph. 9 Oct 2008 Greywell and the Harroway. Christopher Somerville sets out on his 200th Walk of the Month
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wright, Christopher John (1971). Pilgrims' Way. London: John Constable. p. 15. ISBN 0-09-456240-7. 
  7. Gibson, J.H. MD,: Prehistoric Finds (Surrey Archaeological Society)
  8. Manning, Elfrida: 'Saxon Farnham' (Phillimore & Co, 1970)
  9. P.R. Lemmey, A History of Halstock, ISBN 0-9512063-0-3