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.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Sat, 29-Jan-22 Saturday Walk - North Downs Way: Box Hill to Caterham (or short to Merstham) - map-led [New Walk] 12 mostly sunny
Sat, 29-Jan-22
Saturday Walk - North Downs Way: Box Hill to Caterham (or short to Merstham) - map-led [New Walk]
Length: 25.7 km (16.0 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 717/637 m; Net Walking Time: ca. 6 ½ hours
Toughness: 8 out of 10
Take the 09.24 Dorking (Main) train from Waterloo (stopping service via Vauxhall, Clapham J and Wimbledon), arriving Box Hill and Westhumble at 10.11.
Return trains: xx.25 and xx.55 to London Bridge (48 minutes journey time if changing onto a fast train at East Croydon).
Shorter Option: finish at Merstham (16.6 km/10.3 mi, 524m ascent, 4 ¼ hours net walking time, 5/10 rating, return trains on xx.03 and xx.33 with 27 mins journey time to London Bridge).
"What ticket do I need?", I hear you ask. It's complicated but not that much. Please read the 'Travel' chapter on the walk's webpage. [Basically: a Dorking Stations return plus a single or a prayer. Or a Zone 1-6 Travelcard plus a single or a prayer.]
Another stretch of the North Downs Way, recently uploaded to the website by our not-too-slack webmaster. Map-led and with a slight variation to the NDW route at the start to avoid walking along the A24 (but is it a right-of-way? Yes it is, I'm told by a usually-reliable source.). Later on, with some very fine viewpoints and also some noise from the M25, which is never far away. With some luck, we can also spot the peregrine falcons at Brockham Quarry.
Disappointingly (for completists), the route as per the gpx does not quite follow the NDW as far as where the next stage (Caterham – Knockholt, SWC Walk 111) comes in, but that has the advantage today that the last minutes of the walk, which may well be walked in the gloaming, are along well-lit residential roads rather than across dank and dark fields.

Elenvenses/Lunch: a couple of NT cafés en route, plus The Feathers (16.4 km, food all day) in Merstham.
Tea: The Harrow in Chaldon (5.5 km from the end), Crown & Pepper, William Garland (Greene King).

For map, height profile, photos and gpx/kml files click here. t=swc.393.a

  • 29-Jan-22

    Jolly day out today. The route through the meadows along the Mole early on proved to be the (almost) only muddy bit, and that was only from the amount of foot traffic it has seen recently. Up to the viewpoint on Box Hill, with supremely clear far views out to the South Downs. Then the stretch of the NDW that is only initially well known from other SWC walks. Some ex-quarries, a few down-and-ups, some woodlands and a short stretch of annoying road walking (w/o any pavement and some fast traffic). Eventually we rose up Colley Hill with its very fine views, now within earshot of the M25. Most of us had not walked this part of the NDW before, so Reigate Fort was a welcome surprise. From there on, London's Skyline made repeat appearances to the left, again in superior clarity. Gatton Park was another fine surprise, while the Royal Alexandra & Albert School will be no one's architectural highlight of this day, or any day. Through a golf course, we soon arrived at Merstham for lunch (freezer-and-fryer fare only, but nice enough and quick to reach the table, which suited us, and with some fine beers). This was just after 14.00 hours. After an hour we left and with just a nicely graded ascent between us and Caterham, the afternoon passed without much to report. More fine views to the South and to London of course, good tracks through interesting woods and at 16.45 (right on sunset, but with only one pink cloud to show for) we reached Caterham Viewpoint, where we turned left off the NDW for the station.

    That route is quite good actually, through a quiet wood initially, then along a leafy residential street with some big houses, chucking us out just opposite the station.

    We had been under lights from 5 to 5 and got to Caterham's centre at 17.10, still before darkness and in more than good time for the 17.25 train. The ticket machine and the manned window equipped us with the required singles on top of the Dorking returns we had, for very small money.

    Flora/Fauna: some snowdrops and a few celandines (in a churchyard), a weasel (possibly), but no falcons.

    Numbers: 8 through-walkers, who together with 1 Merstham finisher had a pub lunch, while 2 sandwichers also finished at Merstham. 1 walker bailed out soon after Box Hill to link up with a local friend, so 12 in mostly sunny weather, with some mildly cloudy periods around lunch. Group Coherence Factor: 8/10.

    Thanks also go to the SWC Southeast Area's lunch inspector, who graced us with his presence at the pub and then for about 10 minutes of the walk. Just limbering up for his walk tomorrow he was...