I’ve been in London for four months now, with some interspersed trips to Europe in between, and the one thing I miss the most from home (besides chips & salsa) is the great outdoors. I miss hiking, I miss the mountains, I miss fresh air.
So to my great delight, I had the joy of getting lost in the Surrey Hills this past weekend. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (what does that even mean?) is only about an hour outside of London by train and it really is as pretty as that long fancy title makes it sound.
Originally I meant to go with the London Outdoors Meetup Group since I didn’t know the area and I thought it’d be fun to meet new people, but my first train was canceled so by the time I showed up at the Box Hill & Westhumble railway station the group had already left.
I had a moment of panic as I stood there by myself knowing nothing about the area or even the direction of the visitor center (my phone had run out of data too) but then I devised the plan of just looking for other people who got off the train in hiking attire and then following them, without looking like I was following them, until I found a hiking path. After about 5 minutes of feeling like an absolute creep and stalking this one couple, I decided to go back to the cafe that was nearby the station and come up with a better plan.
The better plan ended up just being asking the woman who worked in the bike shop/cafe, Pilgrim Cycles (seems like a great place to rent a bike) for help. She was an absolute doll and gave me the map for blue “Stepping Stones Walk” and pointed me in the right direction.
And so I embarked on what ended up being a lovely day of hiking by myself in Surrey Hills. I did a combination of the Stepping Stones & Box Hill Hike, which is a total of 10 miles.
Leaving from the Box Hill & Westhumble railway station I caught the Stepping Stones Walk at #6 and continued until I reached the visitors center at #1. It was just one mile and had spectacular views but it was pretty steep.
From there I decided to go on the Box Hill Hike which is a medium length 8 mile hike but steep slopes and many steps. Below is a picture of the trail.
Don’t be fooled. It looks flat but there are many ups and downs. I definitely heard some passing by hiking let out a few, “bloody hell”s and “J.C.’s”. You’ve been warned.
It was WORTH it.
We’re talking 50 Shades of Green people.
And old Norman era churches.
And more greenery with a healthy helping of peace & quiet.
Once I completed the Box Hill Hike I rejoined the “Stepping Stones Walk”.
This part of the hike is just a LONG series of downhill steps. And again, some poor people were doing the hike in the opposite direction and were heave-hoing up and letting curse words fly left and right in front of small children. Don’t be these people.
At the bottom was a beautiful, little river crossing and on the other side to my delight was a…
field of WIIIIIILLLDDDD GARRRLIICCCC. Which of course rolled around in for a few minutes.
Not true, but I thought about it. It was an amazing find! I actually only just learned about Wild Garlic last week while volunteering at the community garden near me or else I would have totally missed it. Well, maybe not because you can actually smell it from the trail.
Then I took the liberty to pick a few leaves (it’s fine, it grows like a weeeeeeed), which I put in a jar and took home with me. Yes, you could say the people on the train back didn’t appreciate my presence very much but hey, I made a freaking delicious garlic mac-n-cheese (so American, I know) with a little paprika and mature cheddar…yesterday so, no regrets.
I hope this post has left you feeling inspired to get out of the city for the day and enjoy some of the beautiful hiking trails that are just an hour train ride away. There are about 7 other trails in this area that you can choose from. Let me know if you end up going!
And don’t forget to follow my blog 🙂 I’ll be making more posts about hikes near London soon.
Do you know of other hikes close to London? I’d love to hear them! Please comment below.