A ramble around the Mole Gap Trail between Leatherhead and Dorking
PUBLISHED: 22:05 25 April 2017 | UPDATED: 22:05 25 April 2017
Discover stunning Surrey Hills countryside, including England’s largest single estate vineyard, on this three-hour Mole Valley walk
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine April 2017
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1. From Leatherhead Railway Station car park (exit Platform 2), look for the special Mole Gap Trail silver metal arrows set in the ground. Take the road down the hill and follow signs to the town centre. Stay on the right-hand pavement as it turns right and heads downhill, past The Running Horse pub on the right and, immediately after the mini-roundabout, swap to the left-hand pavement to cross the 18th century stone bridge.
2. Immediately after the bridge, turn left onto the footpath signed to Norbury Park. Follow this path alongside the River Mole on the left. Stay on the main riverside path, which leads you past the football ground and leisure centre. On the right are the grounds of Thorncroft Manor. You will meet a T-junction with a tarmac drive. Turn right along this, passing the entrance to Thorncroft Manor. Keep ahead between several properties and soon you will come to a crossroad of paths. Turn left (signed for Norbury Park) and follow the path through the metal kissing gate. Follow the path, which leads you past the old Thorncroft Vineyard and through a wooden kissing gate. Keep ahead on the riverside path, passing under the road (Young Street) overhead. Keep following the path and soon you will come to a metal kissing gate ahead. Pass through this to enter Norbury Park. Follow the path across the centre of the field, with the river on the left, and the railway embankment on the right. Soon, the river swings right to run directly alongside your path once again. The path swings left to become a stone track.
3. Follow the track down a slope and through the gateway, then keep straight ahead following the railway embankment on the right. Where the track swings left, turn right through the kissing gate. Follow this track under the railway bridge. Ignore the wooden steps on the left and continue until you reach a crossroads of paths. Turn left here, passing between sections of old box hedge, and follow the path winding steeply uphill. You will emerge out onto a T-junction with a tarmac access lane. Turn left here. Follow the lane downhill. Immediately after the first bench on the right, fork right onto the grass path which leads you uphill. The path will lead you to a crossroads with a surfaced track. Go straight ahead on the path, which leads you downhill through the woods. Ignore the first path on the left (a sharp left turn through a staggered barrier). Instead keep ahead and take the second path on the left, passing through a wooden kissing gate alongside a wide wooden gate and into a picnic area.
4. Exit via the kissing gate on the far side and keep ahead along the track. Pass Lodge Farm on the left, then follow the track across the bridge over the river. Keep going until you reach more farm buildings. Turn right onto another track between fields and follow it until you reach a kissing gate and pass through this into the field. Keep on main track and, at the far side, go through the kissing gate and keep going. Cross the footbridge over the River Mole. If you wish to visit The Stepping Stones pub, turn left here for just a short distance.
5. To continue, cross over Chapel Lane and turn right and follow the walkway. You will emerge through white fencing by the entrance to Pilgrim’s Way. Keep ahead along the edge of the road for 25 metres, then turn left onto the footpath. Follow the footpath, which continues opposite (signed to Dorking), and then through two gates until you emerge at a junction with Chapel Lane. At the end of the long enclosed path, pass through the kissing gate to enter a short field. Cross this and leave through the kissing gate on the far side. At the crossroads with the North Downs Way National Trail, go straight ahead, passing through a gate to enter the vineyard of Denbies Wine Estate. Keep walking and at the end of the first section of vines, you will come to a signed crossroads with the estate concrete drive. Go straight ahead (uphill) on the stone track. At the next junction, where the stone track swings right, keep straight ahead on the wide grass track between the vines. Go through the kissing gate to follow the track up the slope.
6. Turning left, follow the narrow path through a tunnel of trees, with an open field across to the right. Just before you reach the gravel road, turn left along the narrow path with properties on the right. Follow the path downhill taking time to enjoy the views to Box Hill ahead and across the vineyard to Norbury Park House across to the left. You will emerge via a kissing gate onto a T-junction with the road. Cross over and turn left along the pavement. A little further along, turn right into Chichester Road, passing Coombe House on the left. At the end of the road, swing right to join the pavement, which runs beside the dual carriageway. Follow this ahead, crossing over three side roads to reach the subway.
7. Go through the subway, keeping ahead to climb the ramp at the far side. You will see Dorking Railway Station, the end point for this walk, directly ahead. From here there are frequent trains back to Leatherhead Railway Station (just a five-minute journey).
• The River Mole has carved out a route through the ancient chalk of the North Downs and now contains some of the best ancient yew and box woodlands in Europe.
• It has been suggested the river was called the “Mole” due to the fact that parts of it disappear underground, like its little furry namesake.
• The famous chalk belt that runs through Surrey is the same geological belt that runs under the English Channel and through France’s Champagne region, hence our ability to grow such wonderful sparkling wine.
Start: Grid ref: TQ163568
Postcode for Sat Nav: KT22 7SQ
Length of walk: Allow about three hours for this six-mile, moderately challenging walk.
Food and Drink: The Running Horse pub in Leatherhead, The Stepping Stones pub in Westhumble or Denbies Wine Estate, which has a restaurant and café.
While you are there: Take a tour around Denbies Wine Estate or a visit the Surrey Hills Brewery and Village Greens Farm Shop, which are also based there.
• The Surrey Hills Society contributes a walk to Surrey Life magazine every month. For more information, visit surreyhills.org/society