Ascending Leith Hill

Ascending Leith Hill

The difficult east face. Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42

View from Leith Hill

View from Leith Hill

No sign of Sevenoaks. Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42

mossy trunk

mossy trunk

Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42



Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42



Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42

Hammering man

Hammering man

Abinger Hammer. Holmwood to Gomshall

26-Oct-07 • moontiger on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42

north downs from Leith hill

north downs from Leith hill

07-Jun-08 • Richard BP on Flickr

book1 swcwalks walk42

Holmwood to Gomshall walk

A very pretty forest walk, quite close to London, and the view from Leith Hill, the highest point in the Southeast.


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
Sat, 21-Oct-17 12

Saturday walk - Holmwood to Gomshall - beechwoods and the highest viewpoint in the south east

Book 1 walk 42 - Holmwood to Gomshall
Length: 16.7km (10.4 miles) - but see ** at end of post
Toughness: 6 out of 10

9.31 train from Victoria (9.37 Clapham Junction, 9.59 Sutton) to Holmwood, arriving 10.32.

Buy an any permitted day return to Gomshall, is my advice: this gives you the best choice of routes on the way home. This may be accepted to Holmwood or you may be liable for a small supplement for the one stop from Dorking to Holmwood.

For walk directions click here. For GPX file click here.

Weather warning: When I picked this walk, I did not know a big storm was forecast. Since Leith Hill is the highest point in southern England and faces into the teeth of the south westerly gale predicted for today, it is likely to be very windy. A danger from falling branches or trees cannot be ruled out. Once over the top of the hill, things may (I stress may) be more sheltered, as you will have the ridge between you and the wind. Remember that you are always doing these walks at your own risk. Exercise your own judgement at all times. Be prepared to take alternative routes. If looking for a walk in this area that might be more sheltered, I would suggest Dorking Circular, SWC 274, which sticks to the valley between the Greensand and North Downs ridges. Dorking is a stop before Gomshall on the specified train.

Kay-okay: no prizes for originality this week, but what is autumn without Holmwood to Gomshall? There may be a bit of beechwood colour but there certainly will be a glorious climb to Leith Hill, the South East's Mont Blanc, and with luck the tea kiosk there will be open. Stand on the hummock 10 metres or so behind the tower and on a clear day you can see both Canary Wharf (at about 60 degrees) and the sea (due south through Shoreham Gap: they have helpfully built a windfarm out to sea so you can see where it is): is there anywhere else where you can see both from the same place?

After that there is a fine descent through the woods, though later the walk has some fields and views too. The lunch pub in Friday Street can be popular (they have hopefully forgotten about the time we reserved a table for 13 and only 3 turned up), but if they are full, the Wotton Hatch pub 40 minutes further on serves food all afternoon.

Gomshall groans with nice tea options: Tillings Cafe is the best, but one not mentioned in the walk directions is the Gomshall Mill, opposite the Compasses: nice armchairs and puddings.

Trains back from Gomshall have big gaps. At 15.53, 17.53, 19.53 there are trains westwards to Guildford and on to Waterloo (58 mins) and at 16.04, 18.04, 20.04 there are trains eastwards to Redhill and on to East Croydon and London Bridge (1 hr 14 mins). In either direction you can admire the new footbridge at Gomshall, which has been tastefully blended into its surroundings and does not look monstrously out of scale at all.... T=1.42

** Tough guy/gal challenge: last year five of us did this as a midweek walk and then finished it off by reversing book 2 walk 13 into Guildford - a further 6.8 miles. A great way to make use of one the last days of British Summer Time....
Weather forecast is for 50mph winds and Ramblers have cancelled some of their country walks. Woodland areas particularly vulnerable to falling trees.
Yes, falling trees worries me too
12 walkers on this walk. So windy up on Leaf Hill that the tea and coffee bought by walkers was literally being swept out of their mugs. The Surrey Hills looked as beautiful as ever especially so in the sun. A big group of us missed taking tea and cakes in Gomshall because the 15.53 was just about to arrive and we didn't want to have to wait 2 hours for the next train. To compensate, two of us had a nice cup of tea in Dorking.
Sat, 12-Nov-16 6

Saturday First Walk - Beech woods and a great big hill

Book 1 Walk 42 - Holmwood to Gomshall
Length: 16.7 km (10.4 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10: a sustained hill climb, then flat or downhill

9.31 train from Victoria (9.37 Clapham Junction, 9.59 Sutton), arriving Holmwood at 10.32.

Buy a day return to Gomshall, ideally via "any permitted" - not necessarily the default choice out of Victoria - to allow you to use the faster return via Guildford. However, if you definitely want to come back via Redhill and East Croydon, a ticket valid that way might do. A Gomshall return is not valid technically for the one stop from Dorking to Holmwood but is usually accepted if you explain you are on a walk.

Special note: a group of Capital Walkers will be on the same train, but they are going on a different walk (to Ockley). I suggest that to avoid confusion at Holmwood, SWC walkers sit at the BACK of the train on this occasion, and meet at this end of the platform, by the steps up to the road.

For walk directions click here.

Those privileged, pampered Midweek walkers did this wonderful autumn classic recently, but I see no reason why hardworking weekend-only types should not get a crack at it. You will get better leaf colour, because, cross-fingers, the lovely beech woods on Leith Hill should be at their best by now.

You earn your chocolate cake in the morning with a climb up Leith Hill, the highest point in south east England, which has wonderful views to match. It is a long ascent but never that steep, so long as you avoid the near vertical climb in paragraph 22 and 24 of the directions and take the easier paragraph 23 alternative. In the tower at the top the National Trust tea kiosk should be open (so long as there is not "adverse weather conditions or poor light").

The Stephan Langton, the lunch pub, is a popular place and worth ringing to book a table. (Don't do this unless you definitely are going to have lunch, however. In 2015 we booked a table for 13 and only three bothered to stop there and eat: this kind of thing does not make walking groups popular!!!). If it is full, the Wotton Hatch pub 40 minutes further on does food all afternoon.

The recommended tea place is the deservedly popular Tillings Cafe, open to 5pm, but the Abinger Hammer tea room a bit earlier is an alternative, and near Tillings there are two nice pubs, the Gomshall Mill and Compasses Inn.

As regular walkers will know, trains back from Gomshall are only every two hours. If you have an "any permitted" ticket the 16.04, 18.04 or 20.04 connection via Guildford is faster (57 minutes to Waterloo), but the 15.53, 17.53 or 19.53 via Redhill into Victoria (1hr 14 minutes) may suit some better.

There is also the 32 bus from outside the Compasses Inn at 15.19. 16.19, 17.17 and 18.19 to Guildford, taking 25 minutes, but this only really helps you if you just miss the 16.04 or 18.04 train or if a train is cancelled. The 17.19 will get you to Guildford at 17.44 and you then have to walk to the station: frankly you might as well wait in Gomshall for the 18.04 train

It has been pointed out to me that two years ago a railway crossing early in this walk was closed for repairs. I have no idea if it was reinstated.

A vey nice alternative start is as follows:

Go up the steps from the station to the road and turn left on it. In about 150 metres, just after the last house, take a path to the left (not the track just to its left). In 150 metres this emerges onto a tarmac drive, which you follow in the same direction.

In 300 metres, just before a house on the left, ignore a signposted path to the left, but in another 150 metres, take the left fork, a track leading into the woods, ignoring a farm track more sharply left just before it.

In 800 metres, a little after you emerge into the open, you come to a three way track/tarmac drive junction. Keep straight ahead and you are now at point 11 of the online directions.
Capital Walkers are doing similar start from Gomshall. Will be on same train, however they are going to Ockley. So care to join the correct walk Gavin
Sorry, I meant from Holmwood, not Gomshall. So, yes, need to ensure there is a seperation at Holmwood or it might cause confusion, Gavin

Wednesday walkers "privileged Pampered" ? !

Privileged yes to be able to walk during the week, away from the madding crowds. But pampered ? how dare you, sir !! Many of us may be long in't tooth with fading old fogey passes, but we are just reaping the rewards of hard work over many a moon and in some cases, too many a moon.

Now, you young swain, young blades and lassies out there should take great satisfaction in knowing by working all the hours of the day and night you are paying for my pension and paying for the subsidy on my travel. So please keep it up it is much appreciated. Yes you will all probably have to work until you are 75 or 80 so you will need to keep fit. So keep up walking with the SWC but not on Wednesdays !

Pampered ?
I needed another word beginning with "P" for the alliteration.

Re the Capital Walkers group, yes, I know I note this in the walk post (paragraph in italics after the outward train details). Sorry about this, but there are so many damned groups these days and I can't avoid all of them all of the time. They are not going to our lunch pubs: that seemed to be the main thing. Otherwise, I am sure we can give them a clean pair of heels.

I suggested that the SWC group sit at the back end of the train and meet at the back end of the platform by the steps to avoid the Capital long as they do not do the same, of course.

6 Very wet all morning. Given the rain on Saturday and the fine forecast for Sunday it was not surprising that only six brave souls alighted at Holmwood. The Capital Walkers had a few more but we left them on the platform. With almost zero visibility at Leith Hill Tower we went on to The Stephen Langton Inn. Despite the restaurant being full with a large group staying at Holmbury YHA we were served efficiently with good food and excellent Tillingbourne beer. The rain eased off in the afternoon and we had time for tea at Tillings Cafe in Gomshall. There was a bit of confusion about train times but every one got away to Guildford or Dorking/Redhill. A grand day out despite the weather.
Wed, 26-Oct-16 13

Wednesday Walk: Book 1, Walk 42 - Holmwood to Gomshall

Leith Tower, its woodlands and its heathlands

Book 1, Walk 42 - Holmwood to Gomshall (with optional extension to Guildford)

Length: Holmwood to Gomshall: 16.7 km (10.4 miles)
Gomshall to Guildford (reversing part of Book 2, Walk 13): 10.4 km (6.5 miles)
Toughness: 6 out of 10

London Victoria: 09-31 hrs (Horsham train)
Arrive Holmwood: 10-32 hrs

Gomshall: 15-53 hrs via Guildford to Waterloo
16-04 hrs via Redhill to London Bridge or Victoria
16-53 hrs via Guildford
17-06 hrs via Redhill

Gomshall to Guildford by No 32 bus (from outside the Compasses pub): 15-19; 16-30; 17-01 & 18-15. Journey time about 26 mins.

Guildford to London Waterloo: frequent fast trains.

Rail ticket: suggest a day return to Gomshall all routes permitted, which covers return journeys via Redhill or Guildford. In theory you will also require a single from Dorking to Holmwood, but I have never been asked for this.

Today's walk posting assumes Southern will behave themselves today and not cancel the suggested train.

I suggest we start today's walk using the alternative start, before we climb up Leith Hill with its tower, where (if open) we take elevenses before continuing on the morning leg of the walk.

Now - pre-empting anonymous moaners over the early start (before 10 am), the cost of the rail ticket is not expensive today and the start time as recommended in the TO Book will permit those amongst us who wish to walk long today - on to Guildford - to do so in daylight.

The lunch stop is the Stephan Langton Inn in Friday Street, or a little later in the walk, the Wotton Hatch in Wotton. Tea can be taken in Abinger Hammer at the Tea Rooms or at the Compasses Inn in Gomshall. On arrival in Gomshall, those walkers still with petrol in the tank may wish to carry on to Guildford, over the hills and far away, reversing the Book 2 walk - Guildford to Gomshall. With clocks going back four days later, this will be the last chance for SWC walkers to go long for many a month.

Trains from Gomshall back to London are infreqent and if you just miss one, rather than wait for the next you may prefer to take the No 32 bus outside the Compasses Inn to Guildford bus Station, a short walk from the railway station.

There should be the start of some leaf colour in the woods today which should add to the enjoyment of this lovely walk.


Next week: Wednesday 02 November: SWC 191a - Haddenham Circular (excluding Brill)

Now I might do the Walk on Wednesday. But I can't Guarantee I will. But when we stop at a Pub Restaurant. How much are the prices?
There is a sample lunch menu on this website:
thanks but too early for me
Angela I got the authors wrong. I meant to say Challacombe, Oldfield and Salkovkis. You should find it.
13.5 on this walk, the 0.5 being the "walks inspector" who joined us for lunch and most of the afternoon. A pleasant mild day with quite a bit of sun. Good autumn colours but no noticeable advance on last week. The tea kiosk on Leith Hill was open and there was a very distant view of the sea sparkling through Shoreham Gap as some of us had a cuppa. Five of us (plus walks inspector) ate in the not at all busy Stephan Langton so I guess others had sarnies or ate elsewhere. We got to Gomshall rather too early 3pm or so and I hear four at least went on to make it a 16 miler by carrying on to Guildford. So in fact did two more of us, one of whom (me) had not intended to be so heroic. But with an extravagant hour and a half of daylight still to go when we set off at 4.30, it seemed a shame not to make the most of it. We got to St Martha's Hill for a soft and lovely dusk and did the last bit over Pewley Down in the dark. Then tapas, wine and home.
Wed, 04-Nov-15 7

Mid-week day walk Holmwood to Gomshall

Holmwood to Gomshall

Pleasant forests and Leith Hill (with an opportunity for a cuppa at the tower there)

Book 1 Walk 42

Length : 17 km or 10½ miles

Toughness : 6 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:31 am train from London Victoria to Holmwood
Calling Stations:

  • Clapham Junction: departs 10:38 am
  • Sutton: departs 10:59 am

Meeting point : Holmwood Station at 11:32 am

Tickets : Buy a day return to Holmwood and a ticket from Gomshall to Dorking
Or to return via Guildford
Buy a day return to Gomshall and ask for a ticket which is valid via Guildford.

Brief Description

In addition to the Fifth of November, Lewes Circular, I've posted this request for a less edgy day out. You may find full details of this walk here

Suggested Lunch stops

Suggested Tea stops


OS Explorer : 145 and 146

Return train times

Trains return from Gomshall to London Victoria (change at Redhill) at the following times:
16:04 | 18:06

... and to London Bridge at 17:06 (change at Redhill)

... and to London Waterloo at 16:53 | 18:07 (change at Guildford)

To summarise, you can catch a train at 16:04 | 16:53 | 17:06 | 18:06 | 18:07

lovely walk, Max and Mel hope to go
Looking forward to the walk. Thank you Mr Dent.
Shortening the walk ! para 56, Wotton Hatch pub (about 45 mons after lunch) has a bus stop on the other side of the road which will take you to Dorking station for trains back to London. 00001a22 TP.pdf
I think one might find the Wotton/Dorking bus timetable here ... 00007fe0 TP.pdf
7+dog. misty & overcast with brief faint drizzle. Long woodland stretches ablaze with colour and carpeted with leaves. One walker detoured to visit the impressive Anstiebury Hillfort, which might be worth including as an official variation on this walk. Welcome refreshments at Leith Hill where mist obscured views though we got a glimpse of the North Downs bathed in sunshine. The Stephan Langton provided an excellent lunch, though some thought portion sizes could be more generous. Despite taking an occasional wrong turning in the woods, and not leaving the lunch pub till 3:00pm, we managed to reach Gomshall just before dusk.
Sat, 12-Sep-15 13

Holmwood to Gomshall

Book 1, walk 42, Holmwood to Gomshall
Length: 16.7 km (10.4 miles)
Toughness: 6/10

9:31 from London Victoria, arriving in Holmwood at 10:32
Return: xx:53 via Guildford to London Victoria or xx:04 via Redhill to London Victoria

I suggest buying a day return to Gomshall.

Walk directions can be downloaded from here

A beautiful walk through woods with a climb up to Leith tower and tea in the cozy tearoom in Abinger Hammer.

The suggested lunch place is the Stephan Langton Inn in Friday Street. The waiting room for the train is the Compasses Inn in Gomshall.

If you get caught between trains at Gomshall, you can get buses from there to Redhill or Dorking.
Does that train stop at clapham Junction? Hope to attend.
It sure does, at 9:38 Its the Horsham train
Train back calls there, too
13 on this walk, one of whom, a late starter, caught us up at Gomshall. cloudy early sunny later. A varied and energetic walk quite pretty, and plenty of dramatic trees. It is possible to feel lost on this walk, even when you’re not! Particularly the stretch after Leith tower. Though, given the vague path choices and lack of definitive landmarks, the book did well to steer me through.
Lunch at the Stephan Langton seemed to please. As did a languorous tea stop in Abinger Hammer.

There was some debate about whether it was better to change for Victoria at Dorking Deepdene or Redhill. I did some research and, according to Journey Planner, it should be 5 minutes faster to change at Redhill despite the half hour wait for the connection. Sadly on this occasion the train from Redhill was 3 minutes late and by the time it reached Clapham Junction the Deepdeners would have been a whole 5 minutes ahead. That half hour wait does swing the balance in favour of Dorking Deepdene in cold weather, though.
Thanks, Mr Whistle, I forgot to mention that the (normally locked) church at Wotton was open, thanks to Heritage Open Day. Contains one famous tomb, that of John Evelyn. Apparently, it is kept locked because of vandalism to that very tomb.
Sat, 25-Oct-14 29 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 17-May-14 28 Holmwood to Gomshall
Wed, 19-Feb-14 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 21-Dec-13 6 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 21-Sep-13 23 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 17-Nov-12 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 02-Jun-12 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 18-Feb-12 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 15-Oct-11 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 19-Feb-11 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 25-Sep-10 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 25-Sep-10 Holmwood to Guildford, via Gomshall and Pewley Down
Mon, 05-Apr-10 Holmwood to Gomshall
Mon, 05-Apr-10 Holmwood to Guildford, via Gomshall and Blackheath
Sat, 17-Oct-09 Holmwood to Gomshall
Wed, 10-Jun-09 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 18-Oct-08 Holmwood to Gomshall
Mon, 25-Aug-08 Holmwood to Gomshall
Mon, 25-Aug-08 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 27-Oct-07 Holmwood to Gomshall
Mon, 28-May-07 Holmwood to Gomshall
Mon, 28-May-07 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 21-Oct-06 Holmwood to Gomshall
Sat, 14-Oct-06 Holmwood to Gomshall