Deepdene Trail : Dorking via Brockham Circular walk

Lost Surrey estate, with restored landscaped garden and forests, ruined castles

Length

Main Walk: 10.0 miles (16.1 km) with 950 feet (300 m) of elevation

  • Driver's route, skipping Dorking town centre and stations: 8.1 miles (13.0 km)
  • Skipping the Hope Mausoleum saves 0.7 miles and 100ft of ascent from both options
Toughness 3/10
Features

The Deepdene Trail is a walk centred on a newly restored landscaped garden of the former Deepdene Estate. There are short loops around the garden and its viewpoint, Chat Park, Glory Wood, and a longer loop that visits the former estate, Betchworth Park and Castle, and optionally lunch in Brockham.

The walks starts at either of Dorking's stations, and heads south for a mile to the restored gardens via Cotmandene Common, a "lawn" with views of the town and North Downs, before crossing the A24 to enter the lost garden. Note: the OS map is misleading here. The entrance to the gardens off the main road is further south - and clearly marked with a road sign and information board.

There is a tour through woodland around the gardens - many rhododendrons, with spectacular purple flowers in spring. At the top of stone staircase is a ridge with fine views north and south - a great picnic spot.

Then there is a much longer loop around the remains of the former estate visiting Betchworth Park. The 'out' route is a surfaced path across fields with open views of the Downs. There is a short out-and-back walk to Brockham, a pretty village with a church, village green, pub, and village hall cafe / micro pub. Further on there is a second short out-and-back walk to Betchworth castle, a small ruined manor house on a cliff overlooking the Mole valley. The route back has a different character, a wooded trail overlooking a valley. This entire loop can be skipped to make a short walk around the gardens.

Back at the gardens, after re-visiting the ridge viewpoint at the top of the staircase, there's an out-and-back loop to visit the Hope Mausoleum, the only surviving building from the original 17thC estate.

The walk then re-crosses the main A24 to visit Glory Woods, before returning to the station via the town centre (tea rooms and pubs).

This walk is mostly gentle over wide surfaced parks, so besides rhododendron flowering in spring, it would make a lovely mud free winter walk.

The GPS file is only approximate. Pick up a Deepdene Trail map in the gardens, or pick it up from the Deepdene Trail website. There's also an app.

Options
  • Short Walk: The station to the gardens, viewpoint, Chat Park, Mausoleum, and Glory Woods
  • Main Walks: As above, but with the long loop to Brockham
  • Drivers: Skip the out/back road walking to/from the station to/from the A24. Cotmandene Common (but not on the grass!), or Betchworth are good places to park.
Deepdene Gardens

The restoration of the landscaped gardens is a work in progress. At present there are:

  • paths through lovely rhododendron woods (spectacular purple flowers in spring: late March to early June, peak is late April / early May),
  • a formal long narrow flat garden (a meadow, not yet restored) on the floor of a steep sided north-south valley, with a long steep staircase at the south end up to a ridge - the site of a lost temple.
  • The shady east-west ridge at the top of the staircase has mature trees and nice views both north to the North Downs, and south. A great picnic spot. There are gentler rhododendron forest paths to it.

The closest parking to it is around Cotmandene Common.

Lunch

Brockham (after 6½ km, say 1½ hours)

  • Inn on the Green (a 'Grumpy Mole' pub)
  • Village Hall, which has the Reading Room Coffee and Cake House at the front and The Taphouse (a small village bar) at the back.

The alternative pub on Brockham green (the Royal Oak) is closed, possibly for good.

Tea

Lots of tea choices; e.g. Cake Rider at 7 South Street; and several pubs in Dorking town centre, along with the usual chain coffee shops.

History

Deepdene Trail: A project to unify the historic heritage of the area: See Trail website (complete with an app to download), Dorking Museum, wikipedia

The Deepdene Estate was created in the 17thC, and reached its zenith with the Hope family in the 19thC, but was broken up and sold off in bits at the start of the 20thC. The house was finaly demolished by British Rail in 1967. The gardens have recently been restored, and the walk is through knitted together remnants of the estate. The Hope (family) Mausoleum, south of the gardens in Chat Park is the only surviving building of the Hope era.

Betchworth Castle was a real castle once, but it was part demolished to make it a picturesque ruin, then through neglect became a real ruin. Its now being restored. If you want to visit it on its own, the only access is via its drive/footpath. Parking is at the start of the drive, by the 'triangle' on the A25 at the entrance to the golf club's drive.

Betchworth Church, which starred in Three Wedding and a Funeral, is not on the walk, but nearby if you have a car.

Chat Park is the remains of another country estate.

Glory Woods are a nature reserve.

Brockham has a massive village bonfire celebration around Nov 5th each year with a procession. All the nearby roads are closed, so you could park in Dorking, and use this walk to get there, along with most of Dorking. You'll need a torch, especially if its an overcast or moonless night. Procession around 6pm, bonfire and fireworks around 8pm. No tickets, (only) cash donations.

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Version

Mar-22 Andrew

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