Surrey’s best walks: Four-mile circular at Denbies Vineyard

PUBLISHED: 14:32 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:32 26 February 2020

View across Denbies Vineyard on stormy winter day

View across Denbies Vineyard on stormy winter day

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Discover some beautiful views over Surrey’s largest vineyard on this 1.5-hour walk in the heart of the Surrey Hills | Words and pictures: Chris Howard and Mike Vergien

1) From the car park, stand facing the Denbies building entrance. Turn left and walk towards the Farm shop.

Go right, at T junction onto the cement road, following signs to the hotel and Surrey Hills Brewery. You will have vines on your left and ahead of you. At the bend, take the left fork, straight up the hill.

2) At the T junction turn left onto the tarmac path, going up the hill. You are currently on the North Downs Way, part of a national trail running from Farnham to Canterbury.

Denbies vines in winter with view to Box Hill with large blue sky by Chris HowardDenbies vines in winter with view to Box Hill with large blue sky by Chris Howard

As you climb steadily upwards, you will be able to spot the tower at Leith Hill on the next ridgeline. Be aware of the Denbies land train, farm vehicles, and cyclists using this road.

3) At the intersection with another path, towards the top of the hill by a gate, the North Downs Way is signposted to the right. You need to take the narrower path to the left, going down the hillside.

4) This path eventually comes out onto Ranmore Road. Beware, as the bend in the road makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic. Cross directly to the path on the other side. Do not follow the path parallel to the road, but go through the gate straight ahead into a field.

Path through the vines at Denbies by Chris HowardPath through the vines at Denbies by Chris Howard

5) Follow the path diagonally across the field to another metal gate at the bottom. Pass through the gate and down to a T junction. Turn right up this wide path for a short distance, before taking the gate marked as National Trust on your left.

Take the narrow track straight down the hill towards the bottom left of the field. Go through the kissing gate and immediately through gate on your right. Continue on down the hill towards the Gatwick to Reading railway line. Keep on the track bearing left to the gate at the bottom left of the field.

6) Pass through the gate and continue straight ahead to the allotment car park and wide track. Look out for cars using this track. The track comes out onto Ranmore Road, opposite Fraser Gardens.

Winter view from Denbies to Box Hill - alternative closer up  by Chris HowardWinter view from Denbies to Box Hill - alternative closer up by Chris Howard

7) Cross the road and turn left on the footway. Turn right into Ashcombe Road. Keep to the left of the road and turn left at the roundabout up Yew Tree Road.

8) Follow this residential road to the top of the slope. On the brow, at the wide turning circle, look for the wooden footpath post, signed to West Humble. Take this footpath straight on up the hill.

9) Keep left on the footpath signposted to West Humble. Vineyards will soon appear on your right and then you will pass through a kissing gate into the Denbies estate. The path widens as you progress up the slope between the vines.

Winter view from Denbies to Box Hill by Chris HowardWinter view from Denbies to Box Hill by Chris Howard

10) At the junction with a wide farm track, follow the road down the hill towards the Denbies building. At the T junction at the bottom of the slope, turn right onto the cement road you started this walk on. Retrace your steps back to the car park.

Local facts

- Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking, is one of the largest vineyards in England, with over 265 acres under vines. Its visitor centre now attracts over 300,000 visitors.

Winter view from North Downs, near Denbies by Chris HowardWinter view from North Downs, near Denbies by Chris Howard

- Records show the farm, prior to 1734, was owned by John Denby - hence the name 'Denbies'. The estate then passed through several owners. During the Second World War it became a commercial farm, with the mansion being demolished in 1953.

- One famous owner was Thomas Cubitt, who bought Denbies In 1849. He was a master builder, who worked on Queen Victoria's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, and Buckingham Palace. He made his fortune building many of the Victorian mansions in London. His great-great-great granddaughter is Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

- The now much smaller 635 acre farm was bought by Sir Adrian White - founder of British engineering company Biwater, in 1984. He spotted its potential as a vineyard. It is now one of the biggest employers in the area and is an important tourist attraction for Surrey.

Surrey’s best walks: Four-mile circular at Denbies VineyardSurrey’s best walks: Four-mile circular at Denbies Vineyard

- Denbies hillside enjoys views over to Box Hill - named after the ancient box woodland that thrives on the chalky west facing slopes. It also gives a good vista over the pretty market town of Dorking, with its attractive St Martin's church spire.

Start: Denbies Vineyard Car Park - free parking

Postcode for sat nav: RH5 6AA

Nearest railway stations: Easy walk from Dorking Deepdene Railway Station.

Grid ref: TQ165 512

Length of walk: 4 miles (6.4kms) / 1.5 hours

Food and drink: Denbies café available for both indoor and outdoor food and drinks

While you are there: Pop upstairs to see the latest art exhibition at Denbies, take a wine tour or enjoy shopping in the Gift shop. Also visit the Farm shop or Surrey Hills Brewery - also based at Denbies. NB Dogs on leads are welcomed at Denbies. Owners are requested to clear up any dog mess.

Free guided walks: Join Chris Howard on one of her free guided walks on the first Sunday of the month - see surreyhillssociety.org

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