Box Hill walk
New year walk through National Trust park
(Photos/words © urban75, 2nd January, 2009)
Close to the southern outskirts of London, Box Hill stands on the North Downs of Surrey, overlooking Dorking to the south-west.
Named after the box trees on its steep southern and western flanks, Box Hill occupies around 490 hectares of wooded downland and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.
The land was donated to the nation by Leopold Salomons in 1914, and now serves as a country park, owned by the National Trust.
Carved sign by the National Trust cafe.
The area has the dubious honour of featuring in a song by Brit biker band, Dumpy's Rusty Nuts, called 'Boxhill or Bust.'
It's also mentioned on Ben Watt's 1983 B-side, 'On Box Hill,' Richard Thompson's, '1952 Vincent Black Lightning' song and Skin Games', 'Tirade.'
There's a cafe and shop near the top of Box Hill, which has become a favoured destination for road cyclists, keen to test their strength on the steep 'zig zag' hill that leads to the top.
There were some lovely road bikes on display when we were there and we spent some time salivating over various high-end carbon fibre frames and advanced gearsets.
It's also a popular ride for motorcyclists.
Our favourite bike however, was this vintage motorised bicycle that had been put together by this charming fella.
Sourcing the parts from eBay, he'd fitted this 50 year old petrol-driven 'Mini Motor Gearless Cycle Outboard' engine on to his old bike, and it successfully powered him to the top of the hill.
Built in 1899, Box Hill Fort was one of a line of 13 'mobilisation centres' built to protect London from the threat of invasion from across the channel.
Standing close to the cafe, the building is a scheduled Ancient Monument and provides a home for several species of bat.
Near the top of the hill is a stone viewpoint, offering a panoramic view of Dorking and beyond.
The true summit of the hill lies a little to the east, reaching a height of 224 metres (735 ft) at the radio mast.
Looking over Dorking from near the top of Box Hill.
My walking chums!
We'd brought along a proper walking route but quickly managed to get lose our place so enjoyed a random wander instead. There's loads of paths and you're never far from the road so it's easy to find your way back.
Up the hill.
Charming church and village hall.
Pretty house with yellow shutters and weather vane.
Fading light of a cold and crisp winter afternoon.
Pile on! Kids playing on Box Hill.
Watching the sunset over Dorking.
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