Friday 03 April 2015 – Box Hill, Surrey.
Easter Friday, a long weekend, Yay – and made even longer by having a much needed day off from work yesterday. Sounds pretty damn good to me !
I am part of a four person team that has signed up to do the Oxfam 100km walk on the South Downs in late July. With work being so busy and the weather not always being in my favour I, and the rest of the team, have not done a whole lot of training, and apart from one meet up in hotel bar to do some planning we have not actually done any walking together.
With this in mind we took the opportunity of a long weekend to get outside and do some walking in the hills just out of London, and Box Hill in Surrey ticked all those boxes. For some unfathomable reason the crazy people I am teamed up with decided that we would meet at Box Hill Station at 10:00 am, though it is not too far away it still meant an early rise on a day off work.
With public transport running reduced services and maintenance work going on all over the network I decided – wisely, to leave early and catch a tube to Vauxhall and get the train from the there to Box Hill, it was a slow journey but surprisingly reliable. I arrived at Box Hill to find one of my team mates already there at the station/cafe/bike shop. I availed myself of coffee, much needed coffee and a bit of cake while we waited. I really liked the station, yet for some reason I have no photo of it, I particularly liked fact it had a bike shop in it, and coffee was served surrounded by bikes
We were on the way soon after the others arrived, and immediately took the wrong turn out of the station. We were going to do the Box Hill Hike, there was a map on the internet with directions and everything nicely laid out, but all from the car park at Box Hill, no mention of the station at all, and no signs from the station either. I though this was rather poor. We realised fairly quickly we had gone the wrong way and were soon heading off roughly in the right direction.
It is a reasonable walk from the station to the official start of the Box Hill hike at the centre car park. It is a nice walk though. It is really nice to be out in the country!
The walk starts at the bottom of one of the many climbs up and around the hill, though we were soon heading up, and I surprised myself and had no issues with the climb at all. Ok, we are not talking Everest here, but it does go up a couple of hundred metres and when the escalator out of Holborn Station is your biggest regular climb, then even half that ascent that can be a challenge. I do not take prisoners on a climb either, so I did have a wait at the top…
There was not much of a view though.
We soon found the car park and the official start of the walk, and once under way the clouds started to lift and the day became quite reasonable. There was a point as we were walking to the start when I was wondering whether we were going to be able to remove woolly hats and rain coats at all, but the cloud eventually lifted and it turned out to be not too bad a day – and it even warmed up a bit.
Before we left I had done a bit of research into the park and definitely wanted to see Broadwood’s Folly, built in 1815 on the hill above the Broadwood family home. The Holm Oak growing through the middle is not native to the area and the seed may have been dropped by a passing bird. I thought it was quite cool…
There was a lot of up and down on the walk, as you would expect from a walk with Hill in the name! I liked it, I am not really a fan of all the flat stuff, and it was really nice to not be walking on roads or surrounded by cars either. This would be a great run, and we did see a few runners out as well as a lots of other walkers.
The church at Mickleham Village.
Back up on the tops again there was some quite nice forested areas, nice and mossy after the winter.
There was also this long stretch called the Mickleham Gallops, where horses were trained for races at the nearby Epsom track.
And at the bottom of the hill, and the start of the next climb – a rather nice cottage, the sort of place I used to fantasize about living in until the realities of living in an old house in the country sank in. Though this one I think would make a good location for a haunted house story.
And then it was back up the hill again….
Once over the top of this climb we were almost back to the start, and a slow wind down back to the station. We arrived just before the train so ran up and over the bridge and for some reason the train didn’t stop like it was supposed to. It was then back over the bridge and into the cafe for coffee and cake while we waited for the next train. The walk took just under four hours, including a stop for some lunch, and the odd break at the top of the many short climbs.
It was a really good day out. I took my Garmin watch and recorded that we did 68kms and we walked back to London. I must have forgotten to turn it off…
My quads ached the next day !!