Denbies Hillside train walk | Surrey (2023)

Denbies Hillside train walk | Surrey (1)
Surrey

Walk from Dorking station to the old carriageway for Denbies House, then out onto the glorious countryside of Denbies Hillside. It uses three trails - Walk the Chalk, the North Downs Way and the Denbies Hillside nature trail - so you can stroll alongside meadows, fields and woodland drinking in the stunning views and enjoying the wildlife, birds and butterflies. Don't forget to bring a picnic!

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Total steps: 12

Total steps: 12

Start point

Dorking Station, Station Approach, Dorking, RH4 1TF. Grid ref:TQ170504

Step 1

From the station building walk to your left towards the Lincoln Arms pub. Go through the underpass to cross the A24. At the exit turn left and go to the traffic lights. Turn left and walk along Ashcombe Road (A2003) keeping Ashcombe School on your left. Continue along this road, going straight ahead at the roundabout until you reach a T junction.

Step 2

At the T junction cross over the road and head to your right. In 30 yards, turn left down a public footpath starting near a speed limit sign. You'll find yourself walking through woodland with yew and box trees. You'll come to a fork with a yellow NT sign pointing to the left. Ignore this and take the right fork, walking slightly uphill.

Step 3

At the top of the rise and by a white house, turn left along a hard core path. This is the old Carriage Road. Follow this path, strolling through cool woodland areas and then out into the open with stunning views along the valley. You're now following the walk the chalk trail - look out for the markers along the path.

The Carriage Road

This track was originally laid in the 1820s to provide access to Denbies house, then owned by a wealthy banker. The estate was subsequently bought by the master builder Thomas Cubitt, when he was developing Osborne House on the Isle of Wight for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

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Step 4

As you come out of the woodland look out for a shady bench under a tree. This is a great spot for a drink, a picnic or simply to just settle and absorb what's around you. Down in the valley is the Gatwick to Reading railway line which was opened in 1849. If you're lucky you may see a steam train passing by.

Wildlife

The south-facing chalk grassland is a haven for wildlife. In summer whitethroats will warble from bramble patches and shrubs. Buzzards and kites can be seen soaring above. Butterflies will flit from between grasses and flowers. Adders can be seen sunbathing on sunny banks and rocks.

Step 5

Carry on along the Carriage Road. You will see another track coming down from the right hand side, but ignore this and continue. Just past a small copse wood you will see the wonderful butterfly post on your right hand side. This has been carved by our own wood sculptor, Ian Crafer, to celebrate the proliferation of butterflies that can be found on this hillside.

Landbarn bank

The south-facing grass downland is a haven for butterflies, including many rare species. Butterflies can be fussy eaters, requiring specific plants to feed on and thrive. This area is maintained to provide a variety of wildflowers and scrub to suit different species.

Step 6

Continue walking along the track gradually moving downhill. The path will round a corner and come to a T-junction. Turn right and go uphill and through a double gate. Then turn left, following the path as it rises. Go through another gate and into woodland. At the crossroads, turn right at the way marker. 20 yards further on take the right hand fork, following a path along the edge of woodland.

Step 7

Walk across the top of Steer's Field, past the fingerpost. If you want to take a breather and admire the views there are some lovely carved animal seats for you to use. Then continue across the field and leaving the cottages on your left hand side.

Step 8

Stroll back along the carriageway which is pretty much a flat straight road until you come to a white house and a path heading downhill in the woods, with lots of tree roots to step over. This will take you to the end of the public footpath and you are back on the road. Cross over and turn right for 30 yards and then left into Aschcombe Road. You follow this back to the A 24 and the underpass and then back to the station. You may feel the need for refreshment at the Lincoln Arms before catching your train home!

Step 9

Following the orange waymarkers for the Denbies Hillside Nature Trail, go through the gates into the woodland. Here you'll see a number of evergreen trees yew, box and juniper. These native trees thrive on the chalk soils. Look out for the giant redwood to your left as you descend the hill. The redwood, which is native to California, was planted during Victorian times.

Grazing cattle

On the chalk downland you may see grazing cattle. These animals help to nibble down any woody regrowth and prevent scrubby thorn trees from invading the rich chalk grassland.

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Step 10

At the bottom of the wooded slope, turn right onto a section of the Carriage Road. Walk along the road fringed with various trees including yew, horse chestnut and laburnum. At the T junction of the end, turn left back along to retrace your steps to Dorking.

Step 11

You're now following the Denbies Nature walk. The path goes up the hillside and through a kissing gate in to the Big Field. Here you'll find a mixture of scrub including dogwood, hawthorn, elder and dog rose - an excellent place for nesting birds. Continue the steady climb up along the south facing scarp slope. This path is known as Fox Lane, after the Fox Inn, now a private residence. Don't forget to stop every now and then to admire the views !

Countryside views

At the top of the Big Field is a bench - another lovely spot to sit for a while, admire the views and ponder. You may see green woodpeckers here; they're often on the ground looking for ants. Look out too for the hovering kestrel searching for prey. Look across the valley - can you spot Leith Hill Tower?

Step 12

At the top of the field pass through the kissing gate back into woodland. Continue to walk uphill through beech, yew, hazel coppice, and wild alder. At the top of the ridge, turn turn right to join the North Downs Way, the long distance national trail which runs between Farnham and Dover. You'll soon come out of the wood, through a gate and you're in Steer's field at the top of Denbies Hillside.

Chalk grassland orchids

On returning across the chalk grassland in Steer's Field look out for the many species of orchid growing in the warmer months. See it you can spot a bee orchid, named because it mimics the bees it wishes to attract for pollination.

End point

Dorking Station, Station Approach, Dorking, RH4 1TF. Grid ref:TQ170504

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Get in touch

Ranmore Common Road, near Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6SR

01306887485

northdownswest@nationaltrust.org.uk

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