Box Hill military history walk
The Old Fort, Box Hill Road, Box Hill, Tadworth, Surrey KT20 7LBRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Box Hill is well known for its stunning views and beautiful scenery, situated just 20 miles (32.1km) south of London. However, not that long ago the freedom of this country could have stood or fallen on the wooded slopes of Box Hill and the River Mole. With many thanks to Mr Tim Richardson for researching and devising this guided walk.
- Bus stop
Start: National Trust Shop, grid ref: TQ178513
Starting in front of the shop, follow the sign guiding you to the viewpoint.
At the viewpoint (Salomon's Memorial), marvel at the view across the weald and beyond. Take the small flight of steps at the side of the viewpoint, down to the track below. Turn right and follow this surface track.
From the view point you can see across the Weald to the South Downs and beyond. Whilst a place of outstanding beauty, the river sweeping below provided enemies with an easy route through to London, therefore capturing England.
After going through the trees and coming out into a clearing, look downhill to your left. There are 12 concrete anti-tank obelisks along the bank of the River Mole.
Continue along the surface track, through the trees and then left down the steps, following the North Downs Way. Follow this track as it descends down the steep hill, looking out for the Riverside Walk directions as you go.
To see the 12 concrete anti-tank obelisks close up and the Type 24 infantry shell proof pill box, turn left here and follow the Riverside Walk. Alternatively, continue along the North Downs Way, heading downwards to the right, and go to direction 7.
As you descend down the cliff and approach the river bank, to your right along the bank is the location of the pill box and to your left, passing through a gate, are the obelisks. Retrace your steps back to direction 5 to continue with the Military Walk.
When Britain was threatened with invasion at the beginning of the Second World War, the Mole gap was the front line and last defence against the enemy reaching London. Twelve concrete obelisks were constructed at this shallow point as a blockade to enemy tanks. The pill box is a good example of a Type 24 infantry shell proof pill box. It would have been defended by infantry with Bren guns and covered the east bank of the River Mole and the lower western slopes of Box Hill.
Follow the North Downs Way descent, passing a stone sign directing you to the Stepping Stones and footbridge. Take the left fork towards the Stepping Stones.
Before crossing the Stepping Stones, turn left along the river bank. Follow this path until you reach an impassable woodland. Here, look over to the far bank of the river to see concrete-filled pipes in the river.
Now, retrace your steps back to the Stepping Stones. Make your way towards them and then cross the stones. These 17 stones are a very unusual feature and were placed across this ancient ford. During the Second World War, they were removed and then re-laid again after the war by prime minister Clement Atlee. Look out for the anti-tank pill box also at this point. A rare example, which would have housed a 6lb Hotchkiss anti-tank gun; the gunners would be able to fire on a wide area. For the occupants there was no escape if attacked; a fight to the last round. Head up to the car park.
Here you will see a large concrete slab in the ground near the metal fence. The Canadians built the concrete slab in 1944 for waterproofing military vehicles in preparation for D-Day: engineers and mechanics would work on the vehicles and drive them through the river at the Stepping Stones and back again. From the car park, take the left-hand fork back towards the footbridge.
Don't cross the bridge, but turn left through the gate, entering Burford Meadow. Follow the path along the river bank towards the A24.
As you approach the A24, take the footpath on the right alongside the road. Turn right off the A24 at the Burford Bridge roundabout, pass in front of the Burford Bridge Hotel and continue on this footpath until it stops. When it stops, cross over the road to the footpath on the other side, which continues past Ryka's Café. Continue towards Zig Zag Road.
As you approach Zig Zag Road and Box Hill sign post, turn right onto the white chalked bridleway. Stay on this bridleway, which leads you up one side of the Burford Spur and takes you past the Box Hill Fort and back to the Box Hill shop and servery area.
Built in 1889, inspired by the book The battle of Dorking, the old fort is one of a ring of mobilisation fortifications built along the North Downs from Essex to Guildford, to protect London from continental invasion during Victorian times.
End: National Trust Shop, grid ref: TQ178513
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Hard
- Distance: 2.75 miles (4.4km)
- Time: 2 hours to 3 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 146 Dorking, Box Hill and Reigate; Landranger 187
A strenuous walk, with many steps and steep uneven terrain, which can get slippery in wet conditions. The stepping stones may be underwater during periods of heavy rain. Dogs welcome. Please keep on lead as livestock in surroundings fields. No dog bins, so please take dog litter home.
- How to get here:
By foot: 1 mile (1.6km) of North Downs Way from Stepping Stones to South Scarp; 1 mile (1.6km) of Thames Down link footpath at Mickleham Downs. 1 mile (1.6km) from Dorking station (0.5 mile (0.8km) from Box Hill and Westhumble Station). Many rights of way lead to Box Hill summit
By bus: Sunray Travel 516, Leatherhead train station - Dorking to Box Hill, east car park; Arriva 465 Kingston-Dorking to foot of Box Hill, 1.5 miles (2.4km) to summit
By train: Box Hill and Westhumble 1.5 miles (2.4km)
By car: 1 mile (1.6km) north of Dorking, 2.5 miles (4km) south of Leatherhead on A24. Postcode for Sat Nav: KT20 7LB
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