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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 9 December 2017

Saturday walk - Box Hill to Leatherhead - a traditional pre-Christmas treat

Box Hill to Leatherhead (Book 1, walk 49)
Length: 11.5km (7.1 miles) - but see ** below
Toughness: 7 out of 10

9.31 train from Victoria (9.37 Clapham Junction, 9.59 Sutton) to Box Hill & Westhumble, arriving at 10.21

Buy a day return to Box Hill & Westhumble.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

Back in the early days of the SWC, when the world was young and Saturdays were always sunny, this was a popular outing in the run-up to Christmas. An energetic (there are two big steep hill climbs) but exhilarating morning, including fine views from Box Hill and Juniper Top, takes you Mickleham where the Running Horses is a great place for a festive lunch. After lunch there is just a short walk up the valley (an hour or so at most) to Leatherhead for tea. In short, a perfect outing for the shortest days of the year.

Latterly, as we have become more energetic ourselves, some find this original ending a bit tame, but the walk directions now includes a ** more vigorous afternoon option, which is to loop back through wooded hills to Box Hill station. This is a bit longer than the Leatherhead route but mainly just more hilly. (It could be extended a bit further, map-led, to have tea at Denbies Vineyard, if we can get there before it closes at 4.30pm. It is possible that my good friend Will Emerge may pop up to guide you on this route).

One word of warning about the morning route: as well as two big steep climbs (both on steps), it has one steep and rather treacherous descent to Mickleham. Take care on this: wet leaves on slippy chalk are not a good combination. Whether a less steep route is available on the alternative paths zig-zagging to the right is something a public-spirited person might check out.

The Running Horses is a deservedly popular pub. I have picked a train to get us there early so as to have a better chance of getting fed (and also made a modest booking). The alternative nearby is the not-unpopular King William IV. Otherwise, the Smith & Western, an American-themed restaurant about halfway through the morning (just before you turn inland off the Box Hill escarpment) is not a bad place to eat. It might be a good idea to phone to check availability at these places at the start of the walk.

Leatherhead is not short of tea places. Allow ten to fifteen minutes to walk from the high street to the station. Trains back from here are at 05, 11, 23, 33, 41 and 53 past the hour, the 05 and 33 going to Victoria, the others to Waterloo, with no major difference in travel times.

If you end at Box Hill trains are at 28 past till 18.28, then 19.01 and 01 past, though if you get to Denbies for tea it probably makes more sense to walk to Dorking which has several trains an hour. (Easiest route: walk down the driveway out of the estate, then veer right just after the railway bridge to shadow the main road to a roundabout, then keep ahead on pavements until the station entrance appears on the left: about 25 minutes walking: doable in the dark). T=1.49


Sandy said...

I can't make it on Saturday but yes, there is a less steep descent (see warning in 3rd para) - when you get to the byway (Stane Street) tuen right instead of straight on down the hill. After about 400m there's a bridleway descending sharp left diagonally (not the first footpath after about 150m). This passes a prominent wrecked car and then emerges in Mickleham near the William IV.
It's fairly clear on the 25 000 scale map

JohnL said...

Or for an even less steep descent than the one by the wrecked car. Stay on the path up to the ridge of White Hill, bear left on open ground at the top to find the trig point. Then continue ahead on a grass path to reenter the woods to join Stain Street. Turn right for a few yards and then turn left down a broad track with a fence on your right. This is a gentle descent, at the bottom turn left along a broad track with a wall on your right and then take the first right down to the King Billy IV

Walker said...

N=20 on this walk on a w=gorgeous-sunny-day - perfect winter walking weather. A fairly cracking pace was set - almost no stopping for the views. The ground was largely crisp and hard. The two big hill climbs were even bigger than remembered: though short in miles this walk gives you a good workout.

Four of us experimented with a gentler descent to Mickleham - the one described by Sandy, so thanks for that. It worked fairly well but was still a bit slippy in places: one person lost their footing, though no damage was done.

Eight (or nine) lunched at the Running Horses, where a table had been booked. We had a lovely table under a glass roof with the blue sky above. The service was a little snooty - twas ever thus at this establishment - but the food delicious, apart, apparently, from the soup. I think some others lunched in the William IV. After lunch most went on to Leatherhead, even though it was very early, the Christmas market being one attraction. Four of us did the loop back towards Box Hill station, diverting to Denbies Vineyard and its self-service restaurant for tea at the end and getting there at 3.15. We then walked in the gathering dusk to get a 4.26 train from Dorking.