Tag Archives: box hill

Wandering: Box Hill, Surrey

14 Jun

The recent extended Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend gave my friend Chris and I chance to get out for a walk, unfortunately the less than ideal weather conditions meant that it was only going to be a brief walk.

Short of time we decided to head to Box Hill near the town of Dorking, Surrey. Box Hill is just a short train ride from Horsham and situated on the North Downs. If we didn’t have time to get out onto the South Downs then the North Downs would have to do.

Box Hill is also going to be playing its part in the London Olympics. It is hosting part of the cycling road race (both the womens and mens races) and we were interested to see how preparations were going. The cyclists will be racing up and down Box Hill as part of the road race before heading back into London from whence they came.

They will no doubt appreciate the newly re-surfaced road, but the freshly erected signs will probably be no more than a blur as they whizz past, on the way from Dorking to the top of the hill.

Apart from the new road surface and signs there didn’t seem to be a great deal to indicate that the Olympics were coming. There has been a bit of clearance along the roadside, where spectators will be crowded, but apart from that you could be forgiven for not noticing the approaching furore.

Of course the cyclists will not have time to enjoy the view from the top of Box Hill over the town of Dorking, Surrey. A view made all the better for the presence of a trig point. Nor will they have to experience the steep and slightly treacherous descent down the side of the hill, which was nice and slippery after the recent rainfall. Unfortunately that all means they will miss the joy of having to pick their way across the River Mole on the concrete stepping-stones.

The closest railway station is Box Hill and Westhumble, Westhumble is the village to west of the railway line and Box Hill is east of the station. It is a delightful little station which although short on facilities has quite a reasonable service. It’s survival is probably down to its role as a gateway to the North Downs.

When we visited it was receiving the attention of railworkers, who were busy excavating the southern end of the station, presumably to enable extension of the platforms in anticipation of the increase in traffic that the Olympics will bring.

In a fitting tribute to forthcoming Olympic games the workers were taking part in a their own relay. Taking it in turns to push wheelbarrows full of stones and soil along the length of the platform the skip waiting outside the station.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Another day spent walking

28 Jun

This Saturday I spent most of the day walking again, but this time there were no genealogical connections. Also for a change it was Surrey not Sussex where I was walking, it wasn’t a route of my choice and I wasn’t on my own.

My good friend Chris had picked the route and was my walking partner for the day. The weather was perhaps a little too warm, although there was some cloud, but it stayed dry, which it has been more or less for several weeks.

The walk began at Dorking railway station, we followed the A24 north for short while before heading east out onto the hills. Before climbing Box Hill we had to cross the river, there is a footbridge but I never miss the opportunity to cross the river by the stepping stones. It occurred to me that these were the only stepping stones in Sussex or Surrey that I was aware of, but I am sure there must be other examples.

Stepping stones at the foot of Box Hill

Stepping stones at the foot of Box Hill, Surrey

The climb up Box Hill is quite a challenge, it is not as high as Wolstonbury Hill which I climbed nearly two weeks ago, but the ascent is a lot steeper. Most of the path up the hill consists of steps, otherwise it would seem almost impossible to reach the top.

The views from the top of Box Hill are quite spectacular, and well worth the effort. Unfortunately there was still some mist in the distance, but closer to the hill places like Dorking were clearly visible.

Dorking from Box Hill, with trig point as well

Dorking from Box Hill, with a trig point as well

From Box Hill the walk continued eastwards and eventually southwards down off the North Downs, towards the village of Brockham. From here we walked east again, to Betchworth (where we stopped at the pub from a drink and a bite to eat).

I was quite impressed by the church at Betchworth, such a beautiful building, I hope I can find an excuse to come back and spend some more time here.

St. Michael's Church, Betchworth, Surrey

St. Michael's Church, Betchworth, Surrey

From Betchworth we continued east again, across the tip of Reigate Heath and the golf course (past the windmill) and onto a seemingly tiny place called Skimmington (with a busy pub).

The windmill on Reigate Heath

The windmill on Reigate Heath

From here we continued, yes you guessed it, eastwards again. Up onto Reigate Park and then down through the streets (of Reigate I guess) towards Earlswood railway station, where we spent a rather dull hour waiting, having just missed the train. To keep myself amused I ending up taking photos of the clouds overhead.

Clouds over Earlswood

Clouds over Earlswood

All in all it was a very satisfying walk. From Dorking to Earlswood was about 11½ miles, the majority of which was flat after coming down off the hills. Perhaps the best part for me however was the fact that it was all pretty much new territory to me (after coming down of the hills) so I actually had to use my map reading skills on occasion!

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