Today’s statistics: 11.9 miles, ascent 1649′, descent 1451′.

This morning people were preparing to run the annual 5k Mole Valley Park Run on the Denbies Wine Estate, open to all and a free community event. They cheered us on as we passed by, and we returned the favor.

Preparation for the annual Mole Valley Park Run

As the NDW left the property, it took us under a Victorian railway bridge.

Victorian railway bridge

We then hurried across the A24 and left the busy world behind us, descending to the River Mole. We tiptoed across the stepping stones and began the first climb of the day, to Box Hill.

River Mole crossing

Today would be quite a roller coaster of ascents and descents. The climb to Box Hill (named for its many box trees and yews) included a series of steps and steep terrain. As we climbed, we passed several people standing aside to gasp for breath. Interestingly, Box Hill is the location of the picnic scene in the Jane Austen novel, “Emma.” Its wide open view reaches across the Weald (specifically, the area between the North and South Downs) to the far-distant South Downs.

Box Hill

An interesting gravestone appeared just off the trail as we moved back into the forest. It read “Quick, 6/9/36 – 22/10/44, an English Thoroughbred”. At first, I assumed this was the marker for a horse, but discovered later it was that of a beloved greyhound belonging to the wife of the property owner at that time.

“Quick”

At times it appeared that the trail was about to enter a dark tunnel!

Often the forest would break away to reveal lovely views.

Last view of Dorking and the Mole Valley

The chalk-based downs supplied a resource necessary to make quick-lime, which is produced when chalk is burned in a kiln and used in fertilizer and mortar. This industry was at its height during the Victorian Era and came to an end in 1936. All that remains is this Brockham Lime Kiln, now a haven for nesting birds.

Brockham Lime Kiln

The trail often presents the hiker with a bit of a scramble over roots and multitudes of steps.

Lots of roots!

The view from the top of Colley Hill was an amazing, far-flung vista, one of my favorites of the North Downs Way. The Belted Galloway cattle under the tree’s edge just added to the scene!

view from Colley Hill

On the far side of the hill stood an attractive stone pavilion erected by Lt. Col. Robert William Inglis in 1909, dedicated to the local people for their enjoyment.

The Stone Pavilion on Colley Hill

On, March 19, 1945 a US B-17 bomber, returning from a mission over Germany, crashed into Reigate Hill. A memorial has been placed at the crash location; our path took us past it. Replica wingtips have been sculpted and some of the molten metal from the plane was used in the process. These wingtips have been placed on the ground (near and far in the picture below) to mark the possible position of the plane upon impact – a moving remembrance.

Wingtip to wingtip memorial for the B 17 plane crash on Reigate Hill

Reigate Fort, a little further down the hill, is another reminder of times when England had to protect herself from her European neighbors. This fort was built in 1898 when Britain was concerned about a French invasion.

Reigate Fort

Just about the time that we were longing for an ice cream, we came upon a refreshment stand that was obviously quite popular.

Reigate Hill refreshment stand

As we descended directly below Reigate Hill, we found the lush and beautiful Gatton Park, designed by Capability Brown, a well-known landscape architect in the 18th-century.

Gatton Park

We walked by the Reigate Hill Golf Club as we approached Merstham, on our way to our Airbnb and dinner at a local pub.

Approaching Merstham

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