North Downs Way : Box Hill to Merstham and Caterham walk
Follows north downs escarpement via Box Hill, Reigate Hill, and Gatton Park. Forest with many viewpoints. Hilly.
|Length||10.2 miles (16.4 km) with 1,450 feet (450 m) of elevation|
|Maps||OS Explorer 146 : Dorking and Reigate|
This walk follows the North Downs ridge south of London passing Box Hill, Reigate Hill and Gatton Park. The route is rural and mainly wooded, but there are many views to the south. It is also quite strenuous as it ascends and descends the ridge several times in order to keep to public footpaths. Several points may seem familiar from our other walks - this walk links them together. Its a great walk for autumn colour.
Train people start at remote Box Hill station. Head down to the busy A24. Use the underpass, go left (north) to join a permissive path to a bridge over a small river (or continue on for the stepping stones).
Car drivers can start a little way back at Dorking West, and have a pretty walk through Denbies Vineyard (large cafe) to the A24 (head north along it to the underpass if its too busy) and the stepping stones over the small river. If the river is too high, follow the river north to the bridge (on the train people's route)
Both routes meet up on the far side of the stepping stones for a steep ascent of Box Hill (NT Cafe, viewpoint). You remain up high with great views, until the undulating part starts, as you ascend and descend along the side of the ridge several times.
You descend a final time to cross a road leading to Betchworth Station. You contour around the base of the Buckland Hills for 1km before steeply ascending Colley Hill. At Colley Hill, you reach open land, leading to Reigate Hill with good views, a bandstand, and a Victorian Fort (NT, free).
After a car park with a cafe, the character of the walk changes. You descend through Gatton Park, passing a residential school, and a golf course and come to Merstham Station (station pub). This part of the walk suffers from road noise in winter, and is much less rural the rest of the walk.
If you are continuing, you cross over the M25 and M23 before ascending Ockley Hill (familiar from our Happy Valley walk), and continue on past Arthur's Seat to Gravelly Hill. Here you head north through Ash Woods to suburbia leading to Caterham station
Continue along the NDW from Merstham to Caterham : Add 5.7 miles (9.2 km) with 600 feet (175 m) of elevation to give a 16 mile / 2,000 feet height gain walk.
Dorking West to Box Hill : About 1 mile (1.6 km) longer. A pleasant walk through a vineyard. Just 1 change for drivers returning to their car and easier parking.
If a hilly 16 miles is too long, you could split this walk, and the equally long next stage ( #SWC.111 Caterham to Knockholt ) of the NDW into 3 x 10 mile walks, Box Hill to Merstham, Merstham to A233 Bus Stop, A233 Bus Stop to Knockholt
Take a train from Victoria or Waterloo to Box Hill. In winter, start by 10am to finish in good light, by 11am at the latest.
Return by train from Merstham to East Croydon and Victoria, or Caterham to London Bridge
If returning from Merstham, tickets are easy - buy a return to Dorking Stations which is valid via both Boxhill and Merstham.
If returning from Caterham, tickets are a little tricky on this walk as Box Hill is outside the Travelcard area, and on a different line from Caterham.
If you wish to save money, and stay within Zone 6:
There are trains from Merstham to Dorking Deepdene (short walk to Dorking Main for Box Hill) and Dorking West via Redhill (1 or 2 per hour, about 30 mins, good connections). Its actually a little cheaper to buy a ticket from Merstham to Boxhill via Dorking (£5.50 in 2021) rather than just to Dorking.
The journey to Boxhill requires 2 changes (both Redhill and Dorking Deepdene). Its a 3 min walk between Dorking Deepdene and Dorking Main. If the Dorking Main connection doesn't line up, you can simply walk north from Dorking Deepdene to Boxhill station along the busy A24 (wide pavement, about 15 mins).
From Caterham, there isn't a good solution. Take TFL bus 466 to Purley, on the same line as Merstham, and travel back to Dorking/Box Hill as above. There's also a not-TFL bus direct to Redhill.
There is limited parking on the road to Box Hill station, and by the station itself, RH5 6BS, and a layby on the A24 northbound (just before the Box Hill station turn off). There is the NT Stepping Stones car park, RH5 6AE, off the A24 (£6 / members free) on the NDW itself, fairly close to Box Hill station. Easier to park at Dorking West, e.g. Ashcombe Road RH4 1LZ
All at the start or end - nothing in the middle
2 alternate routes to investigate. #1 is above a quarry (Brockham Hills), passing by the Box Tree pub a little after Box Hill. #2 is an earlier climb to the ridge at the Buckland Hills (the NDW remains at the bottom for about 1km)
|North Downs Way||
This walk is a stage of the North Downs Way - a 125 / 131 mile national long distance path - that follows the North Downs ridge in South East England.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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