A Box Hill walk that takes a different direction
PUBLISHED: 07:11 20 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:22 20 April 2015
While many have visited the viewpoint at Box Hill, this walk also takes in the lesser-known Juniper Top, which offers beautiful views across the valley
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine March 2015
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1 Start at the Box Hill Café (see more about that far right) and take the path to the Salomon’s Memorial viewpoint.
2 Continue to the left of the viewpoint and follow a short stretch of the North Downs Way – to your right you’ll see the Surrey countryside and the pretty village of Brockham below.
3 Turn left to join the road at the Smith and Western restaurant and cross the road into the woods and follow the path along the fence.
4 Leave the main path, which bears left, and carry straight on. This is a minor path and soon you’ll reach a gate that opens out onto grassland at the summit of Juniper Top. Sit for a while on the seat at the top and take in the spectacular views.
5 Next, walk down the slope, passing two seats on your right-hand side, and then at the bottom of the slope you’ll find a seat on your left-hand side. Turn left at the seat and take the path down to a stile on Juniper Bottom.
6 At the stile, turn left, and then walk back up Juniper Bottom (also known as Happy Valley).
7 At the junction of the two tracks, turn right and follow the main track, which takes you back to Box Hill’s Donkey Green and the car park.
Box Hill is one of the best nature conservation sites in Britain, which is even more remarkable given that it is a stone’s throw from London and has such a high numbers of visitors. An important spot for butterflies, wild flowers and wildlife in general, look out for the Adonis blue and small blue butterflies, rare orchids and animals such as dormice, deer, foxes and Roman snails.
Keep an eye out for the juniper bushes that gave this part of the hill its name. “Juniper berries are famously used to flavour gin, but they are a rare species in England because they don’t propagate easily,” says Andy Wright, National Trust countryside manager. “The National Trust is working in partnership with Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Beckett’s Gin to reinstate the plants at Juniper Top and Bottom.”
Jane Austen wrote about a picnic at Box Hill in her novel Emma: “They had a very fine day for Box Hill … Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and everybody had a burst of admiration on first arriving.”
Start: Box Hill Café, Box Hill KT20 7LB
Map: Explorer 146
Length of walk: This four-mile walk takes in some of Box Hill’s finest scenery. It’s glorious in every season but stout boots are recommended. It’s generally flat with some fairly steep gradients at times. The walk should take around two hours.
Food/drink: The café at Box Hill is open daily for its legendary flapjacks, home-made cakes, lunches, teas and coffees. There are also some great pubs in the area, with the King William IV, The Tree on Box Hill and The Running Horses all popular.
While you’re there: Why not head down the world-famous Zig Zag Road for a trip into Dorking and the famous antique shop lined West Street?
Recommended by: The National Trust. For more, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/box-hill