Start point for the walk: Holmwood Station (TQ 174 437)

Finish point for the walk: Gomshall Station (TQ 089 478)

OS 1:25 000 maps: 146 Dorking, Box Hill & Reigate; 145 Guildford & Farnham

Length: 16.70 km

Maximum height: 293 m

Minimum height: 79 m

Height ascended: 468 m

Estimated time for the walk: 4 hrs 10 mins

Outline route description

(Route description is based on survey walk undertaken on 10 November 2007.)

The route follows Walk 42 in the Time Out Book of Country Walks (Volume 1). You are recommended to get a copy of this excellent book for a full route description. All the walks in in the book that I have sampled are interesting and well designed.

National Trust Coldharbour Walk - waymark

The walk starts at Holmwood Station (TQ 174 437). If you come out of the station by going up the steps to the bridge crossing the railway, turn right down the main road (Old Horsham Road). If you arrive at platform 2, you can exit at the white picket gate halfway down the platform and then turn left to follow the lane round until it meets main road. Follow the main road past a pond until you reach Merebank, where you turn right. At the end of Merebank, turn left along Leith Road until you reach Woodside Road off to the right. Follow Woodside Road to reach the footpath shown on the OS 1:25,000 map, where Woodside Road meets Highland Road (TQ 175 433).

The footpath initially heads South West. The path crosses the railway and then heads roughly due west, passes Trout Farm, crosses Henhurst Cross Lane and eventually meets a road (Abinger Road) on a corner close to the Landslip (TQ 148 432), where there is a National Trust car park. Follow the road right to Coldharbour, and then take the footpath off to the left, just beyond the start of the Hamlet.

Follow the path steeply upwards, Just after it starts to level out, the path meets a crossing path and you will see to your left a green topped post, which is the waymark for the National Trust Coldharbour Walk. The Time Out Book of Country Walks gives an elaborate description of the route from this point to reach Leith Hill. However, the simplest instruction is to just follow the green topped posts along the National Trust walk.

Leith Hill
Leith Hill Tower

The National Trust Coldharbour Walk will eventually bring you to the col just below the final climb to Leith Hill (TQ 141 432). At this point, the route follows the Greensand Way for a short distance, up to the Tower on the top of Leith Hill - a National Trust property.

From the Tower the route follows the bridleway across Wotton Common towards Leylands Farm. Finding the start of this bridleway is difficult, as the top of the hill is now crisscrossed by many paths made by mountain bikes. Once you have found the bridleway, it is relatively straightforward to follow it. However, be careful, as the right of way shown on the map is not coincident with the actual path (shown as a black pecked line on the map) at a critical T-junction. The route turns right at this junction (TQ 134 436). Turn left off the bridleway (at TQ 133 445) onto a short bridleway that zigzags up to reach the lane that runs in front of Leylands Farm (the Time Out Book of Country Walks says that this is not signed - however, there is now a signpost indicating a bridleway at this point).

From Leyland's Farm, follow the footpath to the lane running along Abinger Bottom. Follow the lane a short distance northwards, and then branch off to the right along the bridleway to Friday Street.

Friday Street
Bridleway approaching Friday Street

There is a pub in Friday Street, called the Stephan Langton Inn (Stephan Langton was an early Archbishop of Canterbury). The pub sells real ale and food. From the pub, follow the lane north past a small dam, and then take the path that follows the stream running north from the dam, along the edge of Bushey Wood. Before reaching Wotton House, turn right along the path through Damphurst Wood, to reach Wotton village (in October 2007 the village pub, the Wotton Hatch, was closed, and didn't look as if it would re-open).

At Wotton, cross the A25 and follow the lane to the church of St John the Evangelist. From the church take the path through Deerleap Wood to Park Farm. At Park Farm head west, following the bridleway that runs along the north edge of Deerleap wood and then across Abinger Roughs.

From the Roughs follow the bridleway far as Hackhurst Lane. Turn left down Hackhurst Lane, to reach the A25 at the Abinger Arms pub. Follow the A25 for a short distance westwards until you reach a left turn onto a bridleway, opposite Hunters Moon farm (TQ 093 476). Follow this bridleway round to Tower Hill farm, where it meets Tower Hill Road. Turn right along the road, passing under the railway bridge (TQ 084 475), and turn right to follow the road until it meets the A25 (the Compasses Inn, just a short way to the left along the A25, sells good beer). To get to Gomshall Station, follow the A25 round to the right until it reaches the station approach road and the end of the route (TQ 089 478).


Samuel Wilberforce monument

Samuel Wilberforce monument

In Abinger Roughs the route passes a monument at the spot where Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester, died after falling off his horse in 1873 (TQ 110 481).

This is the same Samuel Wilberforce (then Bishop of Oxford) who engaged with Thomas Henry Huxley at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Oxford in 1860, in the debate about the origin of man arising from Darwin's publication of the On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection. In this debate, Huxley famously said something to the effect that he would rather be descended from an ape than be connected to man who used great gifts to obscure the truth.

On hearing the news of Wilberforce's death after falling from his horse, Huxley reportedly remarked that Wilberforce's brains had at last come into contact with reality, and the result had been fatal.

Beer from the Surrey Hills Brewery

Both pubs mentioned in the outline route description above (the Stephan Langton Inn in Friday Street and the Compasses Inn in Gomshall) sold beer from the Surrey Hills Brewery. Their regular beers are Ranmore Ale (ABV 3.8%) and Shere Drop (ABV 4.2%). Both beers are well worth trying.