Monday, May 2, 2011

An English Country Walk


David planned a beautiful day out for us this weekend - we went walking in the countryside.  We took two trains out of the city to the Surrey area (south of London), about forty minutes from where we live.  David brought along a walking guide for about a 3-hour walk between two rail stations, Boxhill & Westhumble and Leatherhead.  We got off at Boxhill & Westhumble (one past Leatherhead), walked to Leatherhead and took the train back from there.  Enjoy the photos I took, along with the walking guide we had along with us (David got it here).

Box Hill & Westhumble Station was built in 1867 in polychrome brick with stone dressings, as part of an agreement with the landowner that it should be ‘of an ornamental character’. 


Walk Directions  
[1] Coming out of Box Hill & Westhumble Station, turn left up the concrete steps , your direction 345°. In 30 metres turn left over the bridge to cross the railway line, your direction 295°.

Carry on uphill on this main road, Chapel Lane. In 25 metres you pass an arch gateway on your right-hand side with its plaque dedicated to Fanny Burney, diarist and novelist, and the timber-framed Westhumble Chapel. Carry on up the road and in a further 30 metres you fork left by Chaucer C ottage on a tarmac path which runs parallel to the road at its right-hand side.


In 115 metres you rejoin the main road , passing Pilgrims Way on your left-hand side. [!] In a further 25 metres take a signposted although somewhat concealed public footpath left , between fences, your direction 220°.



In 150 metres cross a tarmac lane by a house called Kearsney, to carry straight on, now on a narrow path between a hedge and fence.




Box Hill, 172 metres above sea level, contains Bronze Age burial mounds. Daniel Defoe described scenes of drinking, dancing and debauchery on Box Hill; Jane Austen placed the picnic scene in Emma here; John Keats climbed Box Hill by moonlight whilst composing Endymion; and John Logie Baird conducted his TV experiments from the summit. The area was given to the nation by Leopold Salomons of Norbury Park in 1914 and is now in the care of the National Trust. Box trees used to be in demand for making woodcut blocks and mathematical rulers – boxwood is heavy and does not float in water.
David said "look, holly."  Then we both said "where's the ivy?"  We're losers.


In 200 metres go through a wooden kissing gate and straight on, across a field. In 50 metres go through another wooden kissing gate. In 15 metres, by a four-armed footpath sign [2], with a large vineyard ahead of you, turn left on a car-wide way, signposted North Downs Way 


 Continue on the North Downs Way, gently downhill, ignoring paths off. In 300 metres go through a wooden swing gate to the left of a wooden farm gate. The track is now a tarmac lane. In 65 metres go under the railway bridge. In 150 metres go through a metal gate and in a further 15 metres cross – with care – both carriageways and the central reservation of the busy A24 road, slightly to the left, to pick up the continuation of the North Downs Way straight on, down into a car park area. At the other end of the car park, you fork right, marked towards ‘Stepping Stones’, your direction 115°.


In 1944 the Canadians built a concrete slab in the car park to waterproof military vehicles in preparation for D-Day. They would test drive them through the river and back again.
Thanks, Canadian WWII soldiers!
Continue on the North Downs Way, gently downhill, ignoring paths off. In 300 metres go through a wooden swing gate to the left of a wooden farm gate. The track is now a tarmac lane. In 65 metres go under the railway bridge. In 150 metres go through a metal gate and in a further 15 metres cross – with care – both carriageways and the central reservation of the busy A24 road, slightly to the left, to pick up the continuation of the North Downs Way straight on, down into a car park area. At the other end of the car park, you fork right, marked towards ‘Stepping Stones’, your direction 115°.


These 17 stones are a very unusual feature and were placed across this ancient ford. During the Second World War, they were removed and then re-laid again after the war by prime minister Clement Atlee.
Carry on, straight down. In 100 metres go over the River Mole on these stepping stones. Carry straight on the other side of the river, on the main path, your direction 120°. (If the river is running high, and there is a danger of its flooding and covering the stepping stones, retrace your steps to the car park. Here take the left-hand fork marked ‘footbridge’. Having crossed the bridge, turn right and follow the path by the river for 150 metres to return to the stepping stones – but now on the eastern side of the River Mole.)





In 120 metres you ignore a fork to the left. In 60 metres you start going up steps following the North Downs Way acorn signs on footpath posts and keep on following the main path. In 70 metres ignore the path ahead and take the flight of steps to the left, your direction 50°.



 Follow the acorn signs as you continue steeply up another five flights of steps. At a T-junction, near the top of the hill, follow the acorn sign to theright, your direction 120°, with a fine view over Dorking and the Mole Valley below.


Keep on the main path along the ridge, gently uphill, ignoring ways off. In 225 metres you come to the stone memorial and lookout point [3] toLeopold Salomons of Norbury Park, who gave Box Hill to the nation in 1914. There is a trig station pillar just below the lookout which has fine views over Gatwick, Leith Hill and Hindhead. 65 metres past this lookout point, fork left uphill by a multi-branch oak tree on your right-hand side, your direction 35°.








In 110 metres bear right with the path (there is a car park and a road on your left-hand side). Keep straight on, ignoring all ways off, following North Downs Way acorn posts.


In 225 metres go through a wooden swing gate. In 110 metres go through another. Keep ahead, ignoring ways off, following acorn signs and in 230 metres turn right by a footpath post with acorn sign , your direction 150°, to go down four steps and up five steps on the other side. In 30 metres go down four steps to an earth car road crossing your path. Turn left uphill, your direction 70°.


In 40 metres this brings you up to the Smith and Western bar and grill [4], a possible elevenses or early lunch stop. Walk through its car park andturn left onto a road. In 20 metres turn right at a signpost bridleway , your direction 325°, into Ashurst Rough (so marked on the OS map).


Ignore all ways off and keep on the main path, initially to the edge of the wood then through the wood. In 400 metres cross a car-wide earth road and in a further 15 metres you come to a four-way path junction.


At this path junction turn right, your direction 20°, in 30 metres joining a path from your right by a footpath post. Keep ahead, now on a gravel and earth road, gently downhill, and ignore all ways off.


In 800 metres go through a wooden gate to the right of a metal field gate and come out onto Juniper Top. Keep ahead and in 100 metres bear left on a broad, grassy path, your bearing 300°.


David, it's like Weathertop, only Juniper Top!
"Enjoy fine views" - check.
Descend Juniper Top, enjoying fine views ahead. In some 500 metres the grassy path narrows to an earth and stony path and in a further 100 metres go through a wooden kissing gate to the right of a metal field gate, with a three-way footpath sign and a National Trust donation cairn to your right. Turn right to join a track, your bearing 330°, to pass in 30 metres a Box Hill Notice Board. In a further 15 metres go through White Hill car park to cross the Headley Road [5].


Follow the public footpath sign directly ahead on the other side of the road to climb steeply up the steps of White Hill (so marked on the OS map).


In case you were wondering, they weren't kidding about climbing steeply up the steps.
 Beyond these steep steps, the path bears right and becomes less steep and in 150 metres comes to a fork, with a bench to your left and by footpath post No.5.


A bench to your left - and it's in the shade!!  Score - time for lunch.


Here keep ahead, slightly left, on a bearing of 45°, through woods. In 45 metres, at a T-junction, by the remains of a fence’s metal corner post, go left, following the ‘Long Walk’ arrow on a post, your direction 330°. In 40 metres, by post No. 6, bear left for 8 metres, then turn left by a footpath post to follow its Long Walk direction, your bearing again 330°, your path ahead soon going downhill.


Post no. 6 - great, we're still going the right way.
In 200 metres you come to a car-wide bridleway crossing [6] with a Box Hill Estate Notice Board on your right-hand side.



Your way ahead depends on which pub in Mickleham you target for lunch. (Lol)

To go to the Running Horses pub and St Michael’s Church: At the car-wide bridleway crossing [6], cross over, to continue straight on down, following the Long Walk arrow, due west. In 150 metres at a fork, and by a footpath post, bear left, downhill, your direction 250°. In 110 metres you pass a tennis court on your right-hand side. In 80 metres cross a stile to join a gravel driveway towards the church. In a further 120 metres you enter the churchyard and in 40 metres, at the other side of the churchyard, you turn left towards the front door of St Michael & All Angels Church. Opposite the church is the Running Horses pub. Next door is a convenience store if you wish to purchase refreshments for a picnic. Coming out of the pub after lunch, turn left onto the Old London Road, which you follow down, passing Box Hill School on your left-hand side, to come out to the A24 road.


St Michael & All Angels Church, Mickleham, has Saxon and Norman origins and was renovated by the Victorians. Its chancel is noticeably out of alignment with the nave – ‘a weeping chancel, to suggest the head of Christ leaning on the cross’.

See how the chancel is offset to the right from the nave?
 Cross both carriageways and the central reservation with care, slightly left, to pick up a tarmac lane bridleway ahead . [!](Note: an alternative route to the King William IV pub is to turn right down the A24 for 200 metres, to turn right up Byttom Hill to the pub on your right-hand side.)




Cross the River Mole on a humpback bridge, your direction 345°, into Norbury Park [6A].




Ignore all ways off and in 400 metres you pass Norbury Park Farm on your right-hand side. In 50 metres fork left, your direction 300°, on an earth car road.




In 40 metres go through a wooden kissing gate to the left of a metal fieldgate and continue straight on. In a further 215 metres, you are back alongside the River Mole on your right-hand side. You more or less follow the river all the way to Leatherhead. In more detail: When you see a cottage 90 metres ahead of you on your left-hand side, climb over a low wire fence on your right-hand side [7] and follow the river on your right-hand side for 40 metres until it bends off to the right. You can see, straight ahead of you, a fieldgate on a lane (which you would have come to if you had simply gone to the cottage and turned right, by a footpath sign). Head towards this fieldgate , your direction 330°.


This part made David's day.
In 240 metres you go through a wooden kissing gate to the right-hand side of the fieldgate, to continue on the lane .


In 95 metres carry straight on, along a path near the river, your direction 15°. In 400 metres you exit this large field by a kissing gate (with a fieldgate to its left-hand side). Ignore the path to the left and carry straight on, with the river on your right-hand side.


In 30 metres you pass a River Mole Local Nature Reserve Notice Board and in 50 metres go over a metal pipe barrier and then onwards under the concrete bridge carrying the A246 [8].

The River Mole is thought to have got its name from a tendency to disappear underground in dry weather near Dorking. It rises near Crawley in Sussex, to join the Thames near Hampton Court.


In 45 metres ignore a fork to the left. In a further 85 metres, go through a wooden kissing gate with a metal barrier on its right and with a vineyard on your left-hand side. In 20 metres bear right with the path and in 30 metres you pass a bridge carrying pipes. In a further 320 metres, you go through a metal kissing gate (with a metal barrier to its left-hand side). In 20 metres you come to an earth car road and by a four-armed footpath sign, you turn right on the road (now surfaced) signposted Gimcrack Hill, your direction 65°. In 175 metres you pass the entrance toThorncroft Manor on your left and you are back alongside the River Mole.





In 100 metres, 5 metres before a bridge, by a three-armed footpath sign, you go left, signposted Town Bridge, through a wooden barrier and onto a stony and gravel path, alongside the River Mole on your right-hand side.






In 20 metres you pass another River Mole Local Nature Reserve Notice Board and in 400 metres, yet another. In 120 metres turn right over the town bridge , your direction 60°. Go over a mini roundabout and carry straight on up Bridge Street, passing the Running Horse pub on your left as you head into Leatherhead. At the top of Bridge Street you pass Soulinnis coffee shop and eatery on your right, a possible tea stop. Bear slightly right into the pedestrianised High Street and in 45 metres go through the lower (main) entrance to the Swan Shopping Centre on your left. In 80 metres you come to Costa Coffee shop, another possible tea stop, on your right-hand side (Starbucks and Annies are further up the High Street and nearer the upper entrance to the shopping centre).




We stopped for a pint to reward our efforts.  I had Young's "Prince of Ales" Royal Wedding  brew.
In 120 metres, just before a railway bridge, turn right to go to Leatherhead Station, your direction 15°. After a further 70 metres, go under the railway lines to reach platform 1 for trains to London (which go back to Victoria or Waterloo).