If you live in ‘The Big Smoke’ (aka London), you’ll understand the need for a jaunt to the countryside every now and then. It clears the lungs (from the black tar of the city) and reminds you that life isn’t all about sweaty tube rides and passive-aggressive tutting. England is actually quite beautiful.
Last weekend I decided to put my new National Trust membership to good use and take a lovely country walk. Yep, I got a membership to National Trust… The mark of getting old? Or a really awesome way to spend your weekends? I’ll let you decide.
Read more about National Trust here.
Anyway, as part of my promise to myself to move more in 2017, I headed out to Box Hill, which is just a 40 minute drive from my house near Wimbledon, or you can get the train to the closest station Box Hill & Westhumble from London Victoria if you’re more centrally located, and walk to Box Hill from there (about 5 minutes to the start of the trail).
We decided to start at the Stepping Stones, which in summer is a chain of stone platforms across a quaint stream. However in the middle of winter they were sadly engulfed by a raging torrent of river, so we had to improvise and take the footbridge to start the hike.
After crossing the river the path takes an upward turn and climbs to the very top of beautiful Box Hill. It’s a stepped climb most of the way with chalk underfoot but as it had been raining a lot, it was still slippery in places. Wear proper walking boots!
There were plenty of places to stop, rest and take in the view, as well of lots of cool knobbly trees which were easily hundreds of years old.
The climb definitely gets your heart rate up but isn’t too heavy going. Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should be able to complete it quite easily. My fitbit told me that the whole climb was 52 floors, which equates to about 150 metres in total, so not too taxing.
The day I visited, there was an organised race around the Surrey Hills area, and the course went up the hill, so we even had a few puffing racers zipping past us – rather them than me!
At the top, the whole of the valley opens up before you, and we had fun spotting the churches and old farmhouses as well as the town of Dorking below.
It’s a very popular place to walk dogs too, and one particularly resourceful couple were using the hill to wear out their small dog, throwing a ball down the hill and allowing him to run down and collect it. SO cute and freaking hilarious to watch.
At the top, you can walk around the hill and take in the views, follow the North Downs Way towards the east cost or simply meander down the sloping hill (turn left at the top of the path instead of going right through the gate to the opened out area).
After enjoying the views for a few minutes we chose to head down the hill and back to the stepping stones car park. The whole walk took just over an hour, but you can make it last as long as you want. We were starving so couldn’t wait to feed our faces.
If you have a car, I highly recommend driving the 10 minutes to The Bear in Oxshott, where they serve the best sharing platter I’ve had in my entire life.
Runny scotch eggs, cheddar cheese, chorizo, homemade bread, a light and crispy pork pie, venison sausages packed with flavour and the most delicious pork crackling wheel. How do they do it?
Actually, skip the walk and just go to the pub. It was awesome.