Main Walk: 16 km (10.0 miles); 13¼ to 17 km with variations. Up to four hours 20 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 8 hours.
Circular Walk, from Tattenham Corner: 14½ km (9.0 miles). Three hours 30 minutes walking time.
Short Circular Walk, omitting Mogador: 11¾ km (7.3 miles). Two hours 50 minutes walking time.
Explorer 146. Merstham, map reference TQ291533, is in Surrey, 3 km NE of Redhill.
5 out of 10 (4 with shorter ending, 3 for the Circular Walks).
The Main Walk starts along the North Downs Way and soon reaches Gatton Park, which was landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. A choice of routes through this attractive parkland ends with a steady climb through woods to a popular viewpoint at Reigate Hill and the chance for a mid-morning snack.
The fine views continue as you progress along the North Downs ridge, where Reigate Fort is a reminder that these hills were once seen as a defensive line protecting the capital. At the end of this section the open expanse of Colley Hill would make a good picnic spot. A little further on you cross the motorway to the suggested lunchtime pub in the isolated village of Mogador.
In the afternoon there are many possible routes aross Banstead Heath (part of Banstead Commons) to Walton-on-the-Hill, then a further choice of routes for the final section. At the end of the walk you get a panoramic view of the London skyline as you cross the famous Epsom Downs Racecourse.
The public footpaths across the racecourse used to be kept open even on race days, but in 2016 there were prominent notices saying that the crossings are now closed for events (and for several hours before and after). Sadly, it is no longer possible to do the full walk on Derby Day.
If you are late starting the Main Walk, the morning short cut described in the text will give you a chance to catch up. There are several alternative routes in the afternoon and you can contrive an early finish at Walton-on-the-Hill by diverting to Tadworth station, 1 km away. You could also extend the walk by 2 km and return from Epsom Downs station, although few trains venture down this branch line.
Directions are also given for two Circular Walks from Tattenham Corner. These omit the viewpoints on the North Downs but should be less affected by the motorway noise which can detract from the first half of the Main Walk. They essentially combine the two alternative endings to the Main Walk with a loop around Banstead Heath, which in practice you can make as long or as short as you wish; the longer variation goes all the way across the heath to the same lunch pub in Mogador.
There are four trains an hour to Merstham (two on Sundays): a half-hourly Southern service from London Bridge, taking 30-35 minutes, plus a half-hourly Thameslink service (Mon–Sat only).
The most convenient station to return from is Tattenham Corner. It has a half-hourly service to London Bridge, switching to Victoria on Mon–Fri evenings. A little-used station called Epsom Downs is hidden away at the end of a residential road to the north of the racecourse; it has an hourly service to Victoria, Mon–Sat only.
All the stations on the Tattenham Corner and Epsom Downs lines are in TfL Zone 6, but Merstham is one stop beyond it. Oyster PAYG can now be used at Merstham, which is convenient but not necessarily the cheapest option. If you decide not to use Oyster the suggested ticket for the Main Walk is a return to Merstham; this might be accepted for return from Tattenham Corner but you could simply buy a cheap one-zone single to Purley, where this branch line joins the main line. Alternatively, if you have a Travelcard covering Zone 6 you would just need to buy a single from Boundary Zone 6 to Merstham.
There are several bus routes serving Walton-on-the-Hill but none to Mogador, so you would need to call a taxi if you wanted to finish the walk after lunch there.
Car drivers could manage the Main Walk by parking in Coulsdon and travelling to the start from Coulsdon South station, returning from Tattenham Corner to Coulsdon Town. The Circular Walks are simpler as there are free car parks on the edge of Epsom Downs.
Take the train nearest to 10:15 from London Bridge to Merstham for the Main Walk, or Tattenham Corner for the Circular Walks.
The suggested lunchtime pub is The Sportsman (01737-246655) at Mogador, after 8 km on the Main Walk and 7¼ km on the Circular Walk. It was renovated and enlarged in 2008 and has a large beer garden. This pub serves good home-cooked food, including a wide selection of burgers and ciabattas.
On the Short Circular Walk the suggested lunchtime pub (after 6 km) is the Dukes Head (01737-812173) on Dorking Road, with the nearby Blue Anchor (01737-819760) a good alternative. Both pubs serve food all day.
An earlier lunch is possible on the Circular Walks as the outward route passes close to the Fox & Hounds (01737-817744) in Walton-on-the-Hill. In the afternoon all the walk variations go near a few more refreshment places in this village, including the conveniently-placed Blue Ball (01737-819003) on the edge of Banstead Heath; this re-opened in 2015 as a Whiting & Hammond pub after being closed for several years. The nearby Grey Dove café (see below) does light lunches. A little further on The Bell (01737-812132) – a quirky pub known locally as The Rat – does snacks, but is closed on weekday afternoons.
At the end of the walk you could get a quick snack from the Downs Lunch Box kiosk (open daily). This corner of Epsom Downs is dominated by the large Tattenham Corner Beefeater (01737-351454), which has fine views over the racecourse. In the parade of shops just past the station the Silver Spoon Diner (01737-668049) is open to 5pm Mon–Sat, 4pm Sun.
If you want to break for tea in Walton-on-the-Hill, the Grey Dove Village Café (01737-814171) has a nice location overlooking Mere Pond and serves home-made cakes, pastries and cream teas until about 4.30pm Mon–Sat, 2.30pm Sun.
If you decide to return from Tadworth or Epsom Downs, note that there are no refreshment places near these stations.
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National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
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Walk Options ( Main | Circular )
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- Main Walk (16 km)
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
For the Circular Walks, start at §5.
- Merstham to Gatton (1¾ km)
- Gatton to Reigate Hill (3 or 2 km)
- Main route (3 km)
- Shorter route (2 km)
- Reigate Hill to Mogador (3¼ km)
- Mogador to Mere Pond direct (2½ km)
- Finishing at Tadworth Station (+1 km)
- Tattenham Corner to Walton-on-the-Hill (4¼ km)
- Detour to The Fox & Hounds (+200m)
- Walton-on-the-Hill to Mogador (3 km)
- Mogador to Mere Pond via Tadworth Windmill (3½ km)
- Detour to the Dukes Head (+750m)
- Mere Pond to Epsom Downs Racecourse via Nohome Farm (4½ km)
- Walton-on-the-Hill to Dorking Road, Tadworth (1¾ km)
- Dorking Road, Tadworth to Mere Pond (2 km)
- Mere Pond to Epsom Downs Racecourse direct (2¾ km)
- Epsom Downs Racecourse to Tattenham Corner (1 km)
- Finishing at Epsom Downs Station (+2 km)
Go up to the A23 and turn right. Keep ahead briefly into Quality Street and turn left onto the North Downs Way (NDW). Go past a cricket pitch and across a golf course. After crossing a driveway, bear left onto an enclosed path which eventually comes out onto Rocky Lane. Turn right and enter Gatton Park at North Lodge.
Arriving from London, cross the footbridge and bear right across the station forecourt. Almost immediately turn left up Station Road and turn right at the top onto the A23. Cross over at the zebra crossing and continue along the main road, passing a tiny Village Garden1 on the left. Where the main road swings right keep ahead briefly into Quality Street.
Unless you want to explore this cul-de-sac with its collection of attractive old houses (an unexpected survival in such urban surroundings), turn left after just 20m into Merstham Cricket Club's driveway, joining the North Downs Way2. Bear right at the club's car park and continue on a fenced path, with the cricket pitch on your left. Go through a kissing gate onto Reigate Hill golf course and keep ahead up a gentle slope, ignoring golfers' paths off to both sides.
Head W across the golf course for 600m. After passing some trees on your left, the path crosses a tarmac driveway. In 50m go through a kissing gate to continue on an enclosed path, still heading W. In 300m, this leads onto the driveway to a large house, which in turn meets a lane. Bear left onto this to come to a T-junction with Rocky Lane. Turn right, go past the entrance to Paddock House on your left and enter Gatton Park3 at North Lodge.
At a junction take the rightmost exit. Go past a car park and school buildings to reach a three-way junction, where there is a choice of routes. The left fork leads to Nut Wood, where you can follow the waymarked Gatton Trail (or other paths) through it, eventually going across a hollow to rejoin the NDW. The alternative is to take the right fork and stay on the NDW, which eventually crosses Wray Lane to reach the NT car park on Reigate Hill.
200m along the tarmac road you come to a junction, with a modern chapel on the right and St Andrew's church (which is usually locked) up ahead. Turn right and continue past a car park and school buildings, with playing fields on the right. In 400m you reach a three-way junction with the Millennium Stones4 in the field ahead on your right.
For a shorter route which omits the loop through Nut Wood, follow the directions in §2b.
At the three-way junction take the left fork, leaving the NDW. This bridleway initially goes downhill, passing Hop Garden Pond, then curves left and climbs back uphill. At the top of the rise you are heading S with fine views on both sides (and looking back, you can just see the top of Gatton House behind some tall trees). After the path bends to the right there is a fieldgate up ahead, but 40m before reaching it bear right uphill on a broad track and go through another fieldgate into Nut Wood.
The walk route originally went around the southern perimeter of this wood, but the suggested route now follows the black metal waymarkers of the Gatton Trail.
Almost immediately turn sharp right at a waymark post, going past another gate onto a broad path climbing near the right-hand edge of the wood. In 150m there is a bench by a gap in the trees on the right, with a fine view across Gatton Park. The path now swings round to the left towards the centre of the wood, still climbing. Eventually the path levels out and 400m from the viewpoint you go past a wooden barrier into a more open part of the wood, where there is a path crossing by a waymark post.
Turn right here and follow the path through bracken, then back into a more densely wooded area. Stay on the main track as it goes down across a hollow and climbs back uphill, soon with more fine views across the park on the right. Halfway up the slope ignore an old stile leading onto the grassland and follow the main track up and round to the right. After climbing for a further 100m past this bend you come to a viewpoint by a path junction, where you turn sharp left to rejoin the NDW.
At the three-way junction take the right fork, staying on the NDW. There is an information panel about the sculpture and its poetry on your left. In 200m the lane bends right towards a road, but just before Lodge House turn left onto a broad track climbing steadily through a wood.
Ignore a path off to the left after 100m, but in a further 300m fork left at a Y-junction, staying on the NDW (the right fork is a short cut). On the suggested route you come to a viewpoint over Gatton Park in 300m, where the route via Nut Wood comes up from the other side of the hill. Bear right at the path junction here.
The path away from the viewpoint curves round to the right to head NW and soon comes to a small clearing. A path joins from the right (the short cut in §2b) and you bear left to meet Wray Lane. Carefully cross this one-way road (traffic comes quickly up the hill from the left) and go across the National Trust's Reigate Hill car park, with its popular viewpoint on the left. On the far side there is a kiosk for mid-morning refreshments.
Cross the A217 on a footbridge and continue on a bridleway. This goes past Reigate Fort and eventually emerges on Colley Hill by the Inglis Folly. Take any route along its grassy slopes for the next 1 km. At the end rejoin the NDW for a short distance, then turn right onto a lane which crosses over the M25. Stay on this lane for 500m, then turn left into a cul-de-sac to find The Sportsman.
Cross the A217 on a white-painted footbridge to the left of the kiosk (by a “Horse Riders Dismount” sign). On the far side you can either continue on the main bridleway or veer right onto a broad grassy strip running alongside it for 300m; on the latter there are occasional distant views of the London skyline. After crossing a track continue along the bridleway past some cottages. Just before reaching some communications masts you pass the entrance to Reigate Fort5 (which you can visit) on the left.
Further along the bridleway passes Memorial Glade6 before finally emerging onto open ground by what looks like a small circular temple, the Inglis Folly7. There are magnificent views to the south for the next 1 km. The main path curves away to the right here, but it is much more pleasant to make your way along the grassy slopes of Colley Hill – or put in some extra hill walking! Eventually the contours of the ground lead you back towards the main path and you pass a National Trust sign to leave Colley Hill through a wooden gate.
Continue W along the bridleway, ignoring a wooden door with a footpath sign on your right; behind the fence is a large country house, the Old Pheasantry8. At the end of the fence (by a white-painted Coal Tax Post9) ignore another path to the right alongside the house's garden. Shortly after this, however, fork right onto either of two paths branching off the main path; the second is a short straight wide path, easier to follow. Both lead to a tarmac lane where you turn right to head N. Ignore lanes and paths off to both sides and continue onto a road bridge across the M25.
If you want to head directly for Walton-on-the-Hill, bypassing the pubs in Mogador and Tadworth, you can take a shorter route onto Banstead Heath. Immediately after crossing the M25 turn left onto a bridleway, which soon swings right to go alongside Walton Heath golf course. In 500m, after passing more Coal Tax posts, keep ahead at a path crossing to come to an open part of the heath in a further 400m. Stay alongside the golf course for 500m and continue the directions at [•] in the next section.
For the main route, keep ahead on the lane after crossing the M25. In 500m, where it bends right at a junction marked by a Coal Tax post and a large pub sign, turn left. The suggested lunchtime pub, The Sportsman, is on your right at the end of this cul-de-sac, on the edge of Banstead Heath10.
If you want to take a slightly longer alternative route across Banstead Heath, passing Tadworth Windmill, go to §7.
Go onto Banstead Heath and take any convenient route heading north-west, gradually approaching Walton Heath golf course. Follow a path alongside the golf course to Dorking Road. Cross over and take a footpath forking right off a driveway through a lightly wooded part of the heath to Mere Pond.
Turn right out of the pub to go onto Banstead Heath and aim for a wooden signpost 75m away, just to the right of an isolated tree. Do not take the path indicated, but keep ahead and veer left onto the next grassy path, in roughly the same direction as the first one and heading towards a Coal Tax post on the edge of a distant golf course.
The path gradually curves right to thread its way through some gorse. After dipping past the left-hand end of a belt of trees, keep ahead up the other side, aiming for the left-hand edge of a wood ahead and gradually approaching the golf course.
[•] Join the sandy bridleway running alongside Walton Heath golf course11, heading N and later NW. The path weaves in and out of trees and gorse bushes; stay close to the course and ignore paths going deeper into the wood. In 1 km you go past low wooden barriers onto the B2032 (Dorking Road).
Cross this busy road carefully onto the driveway to Walton House, then immediately fork right onto a footpath. Follow this broad path through a lightly wooded part of Banstead Heath for 500m, ignoring all crosspaths, until you emerge at a clearing with Deans Lane on your left.
Head for the corner of the heath to the right of the Blue Ball pub to meet the B2220 (Walton Street). The Grey Dove Village Café is in the parade of shops off to the left if you want to break for refreshment here. To continue the walk, cross the main road carefully to Mere Pond opposite.
With Mere Pond on your left, head N away from the main road. Where the lane forks by the sign for Withybed Corner, take a signposted bridleway off to the right. Follow this broad grassy path NE through the trees for 400m, ignoring crosspaths, until you emerge at a small clearing. Leave the common on a track which comes out onto a residential road (The Avenue) opposite a cul-de-sac, Spindlewoods.
Turn right briefly onto The Avenue, cross over and in 30m turn half-left down a fenced tarmac path. In 200m this footpath comes out onto Station Approach Road by a small parade of shops. Turn left and follow the road round to the right at a junction to find the entrance to Tadworth station on your left.
Leave the station and bear left up a grassy knoll, then down to the B290. Cross this road and turn left to go alongside the racecourse fence. Follow it round to the right and continue along Walton Downs, with a wood on your right. Bear left downhill to join a bridleway at Nohome Farm, initially heading south. Follow this all the way to Ebbisham Lane and continue on this road into Walton-on-the-Hill. Cross the B2220 and go along Breech Lane towards St Peter's church.
Leave the station past the ticket office and cross over a residential road. Go past some low wooden barriers and veer left up a grassy knoll towards a line of benches for a fine view of Epsom Downs Racecourse, with its Grandstand at the far end of the finishing straight. Go past the benches and off the knoll via a gap in the barriers, turning right onto a short side street to come out onto the B290 (Epsom Lane North).
Cross the B290 carefully and turn left in front of the racecourse. Take the broad grassy path alongside the fence (not the public bridleway to its left). In 200m, at the end of this section of the course, turn half-right and take any convenient route along the top of Walton Downs, heading SW.
The earth track here is used before noon for exercising racehorses, so take care when you need to cross it and follow instructions from the Downskeepers if necessary. The downs are generally open to the public but check local notices for any restrictions (a right of way running along the bottom of the downs on your left should always be open).
In 750m go straight across a partly-surfaced path by some white railings. In a further 400m, after the downs have curved gently to the right, you reach another set of railings and the earth track goes into the trees. Veer left downhill here onto a faint grassy path towards a similar set of railings at the bottom of the downs. Go past these, across another earth track and through a wide gap in the trees ahead. Turn left onto a bridleway and follow this round to the right after passing the entrance to Nohome Farm.
Follow this enclosed track gently uphill for 1¾ km, initially heading S and later SE. Eventually you go past farm buildings and houses to emerge at a road (Hurst Lane). Turn left and follow this round to the right at its junction with Ebbisham Lane. Continue along this lane for 500m, taking care as there is no pavement and it has more traffic than you might expect.
Eventually you reach the B2220 in Walton-on-the-Hill, with a small green opposite. Unless you want to detour to one of the village pubs for an early lunch, cross the main road carefully and continue on Breech Lane opposite to reach the lychgate to St Peter's church12 on your left.
Turn left onto the B2220. The pub is 100m along this road on the left. Afterwards, return the same way and turn left into Breech Lane.
If you are doing the Short Circular Walk, omitting Mogador, go to §9.
Continue briefly on Breech Lane past the church, heading south. At the end of the churchyard, turn left onto a driveway, then take a footpath between houses leading to Walton Heath club house. Go across Deans Lane and continue on a footpath heading east to reach Dorking Road. Turn right and head south along the edge of a wooded part of Banstead Heath for 1 km. At the end of the wood head south-east to the far corner of the heath to find The Sportsman pub at the end of a lane.
Continue along the lane, with the churchyard on your left. At the end of the churchyard, where there are footpaths off to both sides – take care not to confuse with another footpath 40m ahead, with a more prominent sign – turn left into the driveway to several houses, heading E.
At the entrances to these houses, bear right to continue on a tarmac path between high wooden fences. This comes to a residential road13 where you turn left and then immediately right onto a tarmac path alongside Nursery Close. The path later veers left in front of Walton Heath club house11 and comes out onto Deans Lane.
Cross the road and continue on the footpath opposite, signposted to Dorking Road. Follow the path through some trees, keeping to the left of the fairway. The path temporarily joins a driveway to several houses; keep ahead and take the potentially muddy path into the woods to the right of the last house, Emerald Place. At the end of the trees veer right onto the driveway to Walton House to come to the B2032 (Dorking Road).
Cross this busy road carefully and go between low wooden barriers into the trees. Continue on this sandy path along the edge of Banstead Heath10, with the golf course always close by on your right, for 1 km. Eventually you reach the end of the wood with a large stretch of open heathland ahead, Chussex Plain14. The suggested continuation is to keep right, initially staying close to the golf course on your right.
You could take any path across the heath to the far south-east corner; the grassy path heading straight on into a dip is the route taken by the Main Walk in the reverse direction.
In about 100m fork left onto a broad grassy path gradually moving away from the golf course, cutting off a corner of the heath. After swinging round to the left to head SE the path passes an isolated birch tree with a wooden bench and heads directly for the far corner. Bear right there to go past wooden barriers onto a lane, with The Sportsman pub the first building on the left.
Head north across Banstead Heath. The first section is across semi-open heathland, then you climb slightly and go through a wooded part of the heath. After going down and across a dip you climb again to a large open plateau and head towards Tadworth Windmill. Pass to its left and cross Dorking Road to enter a lightly wooded part of Banstead Heath. Head west across this to Mere Pond in the opposite corner.
Turn right out of the pub to go onto Banstead Heath and head N, keeping close to the trees on your right. In 500m keep ahead at a footpath crossing. 250m further on, at a bridleway crossing, veer right with the main path through a wide gap in the trees. On the other side bear left to continue heading N, now with the trees on your left.
In 300m fork left onto a short path through the belt of trees. On the other side, keep ahead up a slope, gradually moving away from the line of trees on your right. At the top of the slope go past a yellow footpath marker on the right-hand end of a tall hedge to cross a broad horse ride known as “The Gallops”, with a three-way signpost 40m away to your right. Head N for 150m on a faint grassy path across a semi-open area dotted with large trees. Where the path comes to a more heavily wooded area, keep ahead on a broad grassy track between the birch trees.
In 200m go straight across another horse ride onto a narrower path. This veers right and meanders through a semi-open area for 150m before reaching a broad earth track. Turn left to go gently downhill on this potentially muddy track, heading N again. At the bottom of the slope you come to a set of path junctions, with an open part of the heath ahead on your left.
Bear slightly left at the first junction and continue up the grassy slope ahead, with trees on your right. Near the top go through a belt of trees to emerge on a large open plateau. Follow the grassy path as it curves slightly right towards a corner of the open area. At the second of two marker posts, 150m before the corner, you come to a path junction. Unless you want to carry straight on towards one of the pubs on Dorking Road for refreshment, turn left at the path junction and go up to a gap in the trees to the left of the black-painted and sailless Tadworth Windmill15, just visible through the trees.
At the corner of the open area, ignore a track on the left alongside a wooden fence, but bear left onto a path through the trees. Go across Mill Road and continue on the path opposite. About 25m before reaching Dorking Road (with the Blue Anchor opposite), turn right at a path junction to go parallel to the main road for a short distance. This soon comes out onto a playing field, with the Dukes Head pub ahead on your left.
After visiting either of these pubs, retrace your steps to the corner of the open plateau. Bear right to go alongside the trees for 125m, then turn right to resume the main route.
Follow the permissive ride into the trees, with the windmill behind the tall laurel hedge on your right, to reach the B2032 (Dorking Road). Cross this busy road carefully and continue on the bridleway opposite, which soon bends left. Ignore all crosspaths and follow this (potentially muddy) path W for 400m. After a short climb out of a dip, keep right to stay on the main bridleway, which in a further 200m comes to a clearing.
If you are doing the Circular Walk (or want to take the shorter ending to Epsom Downs on the Main Walk), go to §11.
Leave Mere Pond on a lane along the edge of a wood. At the end of the wood, turn left onto a footpath, then cross a stile on the right. This footpath goes past paddocks, across two lanes and eventually meets a bridleway. Turn right and follow this downhill, curving left round Nohome Farm at the bottom of the valley. After passing Sheep Walk bear right onto a bridleway leading onto Walton Downs. Take the tarmac path which climbs out of the valley and curves round to the right. Continue on the bridleway heading north-east to the back straight of Epsom Downs racecourse.
With Mere Pond on your left, head N away from the main road and almost immediately fork right onto an unsurfaced lane at the sign for Withybed Corner. In 300m you pass The Bell pub and in another 100m go through a gate to leave the wood.
Turn left here at a signpost in the direction of Ebbisham Lane, but 100m along this path turn right across a stile to head NW down another footpath. After 150m go over a stile and cross Motts Hill Lane to continue in the same direction past some paddocks. In 200m cross Ebbisham Lane and go over another stile, slightly to your right. Continue along the left-hand side of a narrow field, with a row of trees on your left.
At the far end of the field cross a stile and turn right onto a sunken track, heading NW. Continue gently downhill on this bridleway for 1½ km. At the bottom follow the track round to the left by Nohome Farm and continue along it for a further 300m. 20m after passing a bridleway on the left signposted to Walton Road, bear right onto a signposted bridleway. This climbs gently through the trees, curves to the right and comes out onto Walton Downs.
Go across the earth track used for exercising horses and take the tarmac path climbing up the slope ahead and curving round to the right. The path later goes through a wooded section as it climbs steadily out of the valley. Where the downs come into view again on the right and the main path bends left, veer right onto a narrow path continuing through the trees.
In 80m, just after a second break in the trees, fork left at a path junction. In 40m this path merges with a broad track from the left and you join this to head NE for 600m. At the top of a slight incline you suddenly emerge onto the back straight of Epsom Downs Racecourse, with fine views of west London ahead. Go across the racetrack onto the downs.
To complete the walk, go to §12.
Go through the lychgate and head east across the churchyard, continuing on an enclosed footpath and then Meadow Walk. At the end of this cul-de-sac bear left onto Deans Lane to reach Banstead Heath. Make your way onto a bridleway heading east across the heath, eventually curving right to reach the B2032. Cross this main road and go past Tadworth Windmill, then turn left along the edge of a large open plateau. At the corner bear left through the trees, crossing Mill Road to come to the Dukes Head pub on Dorking Road.
For the Short Circular Walk turn left through the lychgate and follow a path passing to the right of the church. Leave the churchyard and continue on an enclosed path, then a residential road (Meadow Walk). At the end of this cul-de-sac bear left onto Deans Lane to reach Banstead Heath10.
Ignore a tarmac path leading onto the heath and follow the direction of a footpath signpost pointing up a gravel drive in front of a house; you will need to continue in roughly this direction until you merge with the main bridleway heading E across the heath. As you reach some trees there is a confusing jumble of crosspaths, with another signpost ahead on the right. Ignore both of the directions offered and keep ahead on a narrow path leading to a semi-open part of the heath, to pick up a clear grassy path near the left-hand edge of this area.
As you approach a more wooded area the path bends left to reach the main bridleway and you turn half-right onto it, descending gently to cross a dip. Ignore all crosspaths and follow this (potentially muddy) straight path for 400m until it curves right to meet the B2032 (Dorking Road), with low wooden barriers on both sides.
Cross this busy road carefully to continue on the permissive ride opposite, with a laurel hedge on your left. As you come out onto a large open plateau you might be able to glimpse the black-painted and sailless Tadworth Windmill15 through the hedge, in a private garden. Turn left to go along the edge of the plateau for 125m.
Go back across Dorking Road and along the right-hand edge of a playing field. Cross Mill Road and take a footpath heading south-east through the trees to a semi-open part of Banstead Heath. Head south along its edge to return to the large open plateau. Go straight across this (with Tadworth Windmill off to the right), then bear right onto a broad grassy path heading west towards the B2032. Cross this road and follow a bridleway through a wooded part of the heath to Mere Pond.
After visiting the Dukes Head, go back across the B2032 and along the right-hand side of the playing field. On the far side, about 50m before reaching a sports pavilion, veer right through a gap in the trees. Turn left briefly onto Mill Road, cross over and in 30m bear right onto a signposted footpath.
In about 100m the footpath meets a broad path. Bear left briefly onto this, then immediately turn right at a path crossing towards a more open part of the heath. Keep right to head S along its right-hand edge for 150m, then follow the path round to the right to return to the plateau. Continue on a faint grassy path heading SW across this large open space, towards the right-hand edge of a copse 250m away. Shortly before reaching it turn half-right onto a broad grassy path heading W.
Follow this permissive ride for 500m to the far side of the open space and go out past low wooden barriers to the B2032. Cross this busy road carefully and take the bridleway opposite, past more barriers. This goes gently downhill and comes to a major path junction at the bottom of the slope. Keep ahead across this potentially muddy area to continue on a slightly sunken bridleway, climbing gently between young trees. Follow this through a lightly wooded part of the heath for 300m to a clearing, with Deans Lane on your left.
Leave Mere Pond on a lane along the edge of a wood. At the end of the wood, bear right down a narrow path. Briefly join a lane, then take a bridleway heading north between fields and houses. Where the houses end, keep ahead through a wood to reach Walton Downs. Climb up the slope to reach the back straight of Epsom Downs racecourse.
Ignore a footpath on the left and bear right down a narrow path, heading N. In 150m this meets a lane and you continue in the same direction. In 100m, just after the lane curves round to the right, veer left onto a signposted bridleway alongside Bridle Cottage. Follow this N for 1 km, with fields and paddocks on the left and houses and gardens on the right.
Where the houses end, ignore a path off to the right and then fork left at a Y-junction. In 50m, fork right at the next junction. In 25m fork right again, soon passing a three-way signpost. Follow this bridleway through the wood towards Epsom Lane North for about 400m until it emerges onto Walton Downs.
Cross over several tracks, including one used for exercising racehorses, onto a grassy path climbing up the downs, aiming for the right-hand edge of a line of trees. At the top of the slope you come to the back straight of Epsom Downs Racecourse, with fine views of west London ahead. Go across the racetrack and through a car park onto the downs.
Cross the racetrack and go down to the other side of the course. Cross the B290 and turn right towards the Tattenham Corner Beefeater on Tattenham Crescent. Continue along the B290 and turn left into the other arm of Tattenham Crescent to reach the station.
Tattenham Corner station is behind a prominent grassy knoll away to the right. If you want to head there directly, a path just inside the course will take you to a crossing point and out to the B290. A minor road curving round behind the knoll leads to the station.
To go past some refreshment options on the way to the station, take the prominent track cutting across the course to the other side; on the inside rails (100m to the right of the exit) there is a plaque to the suffragette Emily Davison16. The Downs Lunch Box kiosk is in the car park on the other side of Tattenham Corner Road. The Tattenham Corner Beefeater is off to the right, across Tattenham Crescent.
To extend the walk and return from Epsom Downs station, follow the directions at the end of this section.
For Tattenham Corner station, turn left out of the pub onto Tattenham Corner Road and follow it round to the right, alongside the racecourse. After crossing the stretch of track where the shorter races start, veer left across a patch of grass to meet the B2221 (the other arm of Tattenham Crescent). The station is on the other side of this road, while the Silver Spoon Diner and other eateries can be found in the parade of shops up ahead.
This route is not the shortest way to the station, but the most direct route is alongside some fairly busy roads.
From the pub, return to the car park and go past the back of the kiosk. Cross Old London Road and keep ahead across the grass until you meet a well-defined path coming up from the roundabout behind you. Bear right onto this path to head NW across a golf course fairway, then through a gap in the trees (with a fine view of the west London skyline ahead).
Cross Grandstand Road and follow the main track gently downhill for 500m, later curving gradually to the right. Cross Burgh Heath Road and continue on a wide track for a further 500m, with large houses and stables on your left and the golf course on your right. As you approach Longdown Lane South the club house is off to your left.
Just before this road, turn right onto a permissive bridleway on the edge of the golf course, with the road behind a belt of trees on your left. In about 200m there is a wide gap in the trees opposite Bunbury Way, with a road sign to Epsom Downs station. Cross the main road carefully and go down this residential road; the station is at the far end, 600m away.
- Merstham Village Garden contains replica cast-iron rails and an information panel about the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway, an extension to the “first public railway in the world” (but only for horse-drawn freight wagons), the Surrey Iron Railway. This section opened in 1805 and operated for about 30 years before being superseded by the main Brighton line.
- The North Downs Way runs for 246 km along the length of the North Downs (with two sections at its eastern end), from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent.
- Gatton Park was built up by Sir Jeremiah Colman, of mustard fame. The house (which is only partly visible from the right of way) is now part of the Royal Alexandra & Albert School.
- The Millennium Stones are inscribed with extracts from poems which invite the traveller to “stop, rest and reflect” at this point on the Pilgrims' Way.
- Reigate Fort was part of a chain of forts built to defend London at the end of the 19thC, but the idea was soon abandoned. It is now owned by the National Trust.
- Memorial Glade contains an information panel and two memorial oak wing tips marking the crash site of an American ‘Flying Fortress’ in 1945.
- The Inglis Folly was donated to the borough in 1909 by a Lt Col Inglis. It was originally a drinking fountain for horses.
- The Old Pheasantry country house is run by a Children's Trust to provide a holiday home for disadvantaged children and special needs pupils.
- A levy on coal was brought in to help pay for the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. It was originally collected in the Port of London, but with the growth of road and rail transport, these cast-iron Coal Tax Posts were erected in the 1860s to mark the taxation boundary. There are several on the walk route.
- Banstead Heath is one of four open areas which make up the Banstead Commons. A wily developer tried to buy up the land for house building in the late 19thC and was only stopped after a 13-year legal battle; as a result the Banstead Commons Conservators were established to preserve the area.
- Walton Heath has been the venue for several major golf tournaments, including the 1981 Ryder Cup.
- St Peter, Walton-on-the-Hill was rebuilt in 1820 but has retained a rare 12thC lead font. The Latin inscription on its lychgate reads “Death, Gateway, Life”.
- The large house Chussex just off to the left was one of the collaborations between the architect Edwin Lutyens and the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. It was built in 1908 for Herbert Fowler, who had recently completed the design of Walton Heath golf course.
- The remains of a Roman villa were discovered at Chussex Plain during the development of the golf course. Fowler noted that “The Romans…had designed some excellent bunkers”.
- Tadworth Windmill is said to be the tallest surviving post mill in England. It was built in the 18thC, although there have been much older mills on this site. It lost its sails in 1921 and was further damaged in World War II. For many years the Borough Council have been trying to persuade its private owner to carry out repairs.
- The commemorative plaque marks the spot where Emily Davison suffered a fatal injury when she threw herself under the King's horse in the 1913 Derby. It was erected in June 2013 to mark the centenary of this event, an important moment in the history of the suffragette movement.
» Last updated: May 22, 2017