Statistics: 11.9 miles, ascent 1649′, descent 1451′.
As we left the Denbies Wine Estate, people were preparing to run the annual 5k Mole Valley Park Run, a free community event open to all. They cheered us on as we passed by and we returned the favor.
As the NDW left the property, it took us under a 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.
This day 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.
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”. 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.
At times it appeared that the trail was about to enter a dark tunnel in the trees!
Often the forest would break away to reveal lovely views.
The chalk-based downs supplied the resource necessary to make quick-lime, produced when chalk is burned in a kiln. The quick-lime became an additive to mortar and fertilizers. This local 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.
The trail often presented the hiker with a bit of a scramble over roots and multitudes of steps.
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!
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 residents for their enjoyment.
On, March 19,
Reigate Fort, a little further down the hill, is another reminder of a time when England had to protect herself from her European neighbors. This fort was built in 1898 when Britain was concerned about a French invasion.
Just about the time that we were longing for refreshment, we came upon an ice cream stand that was obviously quite popular.
Approaching Merstham, we walked by the Reigate Hill Golf Club on our way to our Airbnb and dinner at a local pub.