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Different Perspectives

Guildford from the River Wey

The River Wey
Flood Meadows
Town Bridge
St Catherine's
The Navigation
The Mills
The Working River
New Industries
Historic Buildings
Modern Buildings

River Wey Talk
Mystery Photos
Main Page


Section 1. The River Wey

The River Wey is unusual because it has two sources, one near Haslemere, and the other near Alton. The two rivers join at Tilford. The river then flows 44km (28 miles) through Godalming, Guildford and Woking to join the Thames at Weybridge.

Guildford is located in a gap in the North Downs carved by the river. Much of the North Downs is chalk, but just upstream of Guildford, at St Catherine’s, the sandstone is exposed. This is the source of the golden sand that may have led to the early name “Golden Ford”

The Wey has a large catchment area of 1,000 km2 (390 miles2) with an average rainfall of 681 mm (2.68 inchs) per year. Half is lost to vegetation and evaporation leaving a flow of 700 million litres a day. In the past this ensured that there was always a good flow of water through Guildford, even in the summer.


Cows on the Meads

Cows on Millmead Meadows - Photo by Shirley Graber

Nearly a third of the water (200 million litres a day) is abstracted for drinking, agriculture and industry. There are eleven (11) sewage works to return the water to the Wey. Over abstraction has meant that some parts of the river, particularly near Alton are under threat. 

In 2005, a dry winter, led the National Trust and the Environment Agency to issue low water warnings through the summer.  The Guildford Water Festival had to be limited to the river between the locks.

Click here for Section 2 The Flood Meadows