Box Hill

  • Box Hill view - © By Flickr user
  • Box Hill panorama - © By Flickr user
  • Path, Box Hill - © By Flickr user
  • Stepping Stones, River Mole - © By Flickr user
  • Surrey House, Box Hill - © By Flickr user
  • The English Countryside, Box Hill - © By Flickr user
  • The Fort, Box Hill - © By Flickr user
  • Box Hill Fort - © By Flickr user
  • Woods, Box Hill - © By Flickr user

Key information: Box Hill

    • Londoner's classic fresh-air escape spot, mentioned by John Evelyn in 1655, Daniel Defoe in 1724 and Jane Austen, in Emma, in 1815.
      • Prominent hill of the North Downs, only 193m high but still dominating the gentle Surrey countryside below. A lovely, often-overlooked, face of suburban south-east England.
        • 490 hectares of National Trust land  allow for easy random wanderings without fear of getting lost, or use the hill as a focal point for a wider-ranging hike.
          • Box Hill can get crowded at popular times.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating75
  • Beauty28
  • Natural interest14
  • Human interest15
  • Charisma28
  • Negative points10
  • Total rating75
  • Note: Neg: popularity

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 193m
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Box Hill panorama - © By Flickr user

WALK SUMMARY

Emma Woodhouse's solecism on Box Hill is one of those literary moments that, once read, are never forgotten. We've all had things fall from our mouths that, even as we say them, we know are going to rob us of sleep for the rest of our lives, and Austen's detailing of Emma's terrible quip at the expense of the easy-target local spinster is so excruciating that, for many people, the very name of the event's location is enough to make the hairs on their necks prickle.

This scene takes place during the Regency Picnic Vogue, but Box Hill, in fact, has a long history as the place where the gentry of the south-east would go for a spot of fresh air and a view. One of the highest points on Surrey's North Downs, with a fine chalk cliff carved out by the river Mole on its west flank and all-round views over the wooded, rolling southern countryside and (less thrillingly) the commuter town of Dorking, Box Hills "godly walkes and hills shaded with yew and box" were visited by the Diarist John Evelyn 1655, and Daniel Defoe mentions its popularity as a place of "rendezvous" for the gentry of Epsom.

The hill, in increasing quantities, has belonged to the National Trust since 1914, and its easy access and network of paths and viewpoints make it a powerful draw for jaded Londoners and locals alike. There are few places in southern England where one can guarantee total solitude, and Box Hill is no exception but its long, mellow views are a wonderful reminder that, even in this densely-populated part of the country, England is blessed with generous open tracts of elegant green unspoiled by urban sprawl.

From Box Hill station, either head directly over the Mole and wander the paths criss-crossing the Trust's 490 hectares of land, taking in the tower, Victorian fort and panoramas over Dorking, Mickleham Downs and beyond, spotting the 40 out of 58 species of native butterfly which live here and stopping for tea at the NT café near the summit. Or set out for a more constructed, more strenuous five-hour up-and-down circuit, taking in Norbury Park, Mickleham, its downs and racing gallops, the Trust's other site at Headley Heath, the Brockham quarry and, finally, the summit of Box Hill itself before dropping back down to the station.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.

Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk


Surrey and Sussex Walks - (Ordnance Survey Pathfinder Guides) - Brian Conduit,John Brooks, Kevin Borman / Ordnance Survey

Surrey - Year Round Walks - David Weller / Countryside books

 

Other books


Black's Guide to the County of SurreyBlack Adam and Charles/BiblioBazaar.

EmmaJane Austen/Penguin

Maps

Google map

Explorer 146 Dorking, Box Hill and Reigate OS Map - Ordnance Survey

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

All year. Late Spring for wildflowers, Autumn for colour.

Weather

Mild, southern English weather, but be prepared for rain and bring a jumper.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Box Hill and Westhumble station. National Rail Enquiries

There is a National Trust car park at the foot of the hill. £3 for the day.

No permits are needed to do this walk.

Route(s)

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Short route: simply set off and wander: the site is filled with paths and you can’t get lost.

Long route: for details of this route, starting and finishing at Box Hill and Westhumble station, see the excellent Saturday Walkers’ Club

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do this walk independently.

Guided/supported

There is absolutely no need to find a guide, but the National Trust might be able to lay on something for those interested in flora and fauna.

Accommodation

Find reasonably- priced accommodation in the area at hostelbookers.com. Dorking is the nearest town.

Laterooms.co.uk

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Other information and tips

The King William IV and Running Horses pubs in Mickleham, 5km into the walk, are both good spots for lunch.

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Stepping Stones, River Mole - ©By Flickr user

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Surrey House, Box Hill - ©By Flickr user...
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