On the North Downs Way

The third leg of the North Downs Way was even more stunning than the second. After successfully winning the no-prizes Southern Railway “Hunt the Platform” game at Waterloo Station, a smaller than usual Longer Walks Group resumed our eastbound progress in perfect weather. On leaving Box Hill and Westhumble Station we passed under the A24, then crossed the River Mole. Unfortunately we were unable to cross the famous stepping stones, so the nearby footbridge was used to cross the stream. We entered the woods of Box Hill and embarked on a strenuous climb, gaining 170 metres of height by the time we reached the summit. Having taken in the breath-taking views from Box Hill, we continued eastwards, descending through Oak Wood before rising again to an elevation of 210 metres. A further descent took us down to a clearing above Betchworth Quarry where we stopped for a welcome rest and lunch, before we undertook our final steep climb of the day from the bottom of Juniper Hill to the top of Colley Hill, with fine views over Reigate and environs. Here we rested for a short while in the shade afforded by the Inglis Memorial, and where we were informed by a proud local that Surrey has more trees than any other county.

Then a military curiosity, Reigate Fort, one of a number of fortifications built along the North Downs Way in the 1890s as a response to a threat of a French invasion, and further on a memorial to a B17 plane crash in 1945.

From then on we thankfully enjoyed mainly level terrain in the afternoon heat, stopping briefy at the Gatton Park picnic area. Our final 2.5 miles was a gentle descent, through the grounds of a boarding school, then the inevitable golf course to the finish of the walk at The Feathers public house, a few yards from Merstham Station.

A memorable walk, marred only in the latter stages by incessant traffic noise from unseen roads.

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