Reigate Hill walk
Enjoy an exhilarating walk across Reigate Hill and learn how man has influenced the history on the hill.
Stroll through flower-sprinkled grasslands and tranquil shady woods
There are many places along the route to stop and enjoy the spectacular views across the Weald towards the South Downs.
Wray Lane car park, Reigate Hill, grid ref: TQ262523
From Wray Lane car park, walk west along the North Downs Way, crossing over the recently refurbished footbridge.
Reigate Hill footbridge was designed in 1908 and completed in 1910 by L G Mouchel and Partners, using the French Mouchel Hennebique system of reinforced concrete. The single-span segmental arched bridge covers a 97ft (30m) span with width of 8ft (2.5m) and weight of 3 tonnes. Above the arch is a cast iron pierced balustrade with larger principals and ball finials.
Continue to follow the North Downs Way. On your left, you'll pass the entrance to Reigate Fort. Why not take a break and explore this military site?
Reigate Fort was built in 1898, as part of a 72-mile (115km) defence line to protect London while a huge ship-building programme was initiated by the British Government. The southern line was divided into 10 sectors and the fort fell into 'Redhill Position', which was 7 miles (11km) long. The fort held vital tools and ammunition to supply soldiers and artillery at short notice.
The open area of mowed grass to your left is where a US Flying Fortress crashed into Reigate Hill on 19 March 1945.
US Second World War plane crash
On 19 March 1945, aircraft from US 384th Bomber Group, stationed at 1O6 Grafton-Underwood in Northamptonshire, were returning from a bombing raid on Plauen, near the Czech border. The planes usually flew in formation, for protection from enemy fighters, but because of the dense cloud (solid at 800ft/244m) the planes split up. There was less cloud at 300ft (91m) and flying too low, the Flying Fortress 43-39035 SO-F sadly crashed into Reigate Hill at 1740 hours.
As you pass through the wooden gate, you'll see the Inglis Memorial to your left. This is the first opportunity to experience the spectacular views towards Box Hill and Leith Hill in the West, and the South Downs in the South. Continue to follow the North Downs Way along the top of the hill. Keep an eye out for our Belted Galloway cattle that manage the chalk downland by grazing the unwanted scrub.
The Inglis Memorial was donated to the Borough of Reigate in 1909, by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Robert William Inglis VC. It was built as a drinking fountain for horses on the original main route over Reigate Hill. Stop to look at the viewpoint indicator - what can you see?
Pass through the wooden gate and continue to follow the North Downs Way until you come to a T-junction with three metal posts. Turn left onto the tarmac track and continue to follow the North Downs Way.
As you walk along the track, you'll see a large white cast-iron post to your left, this is a Coal Tax post. Pass through the metal posts and head downhill, continuing along the North Downs Way. Caution: steep descent.
Coal Tax post
Since medieval times, coal imported into the City of London has been taxed. In 1861, the London Coal And Wine Duties Continuance Act was passed and Coal Tax posts were erected to mark the boundary within which the tax was payable. These posts have a raised shield with the City of London's coat of arms and raised lettering referring to the Act under which it was erected.
At the bottom of the hill, you'll come to a crossroad with a fingerpost. Turn left through the wooden barrier and follow the footpath through the yew woodland. As you leave the woodland, you'll see open chalk downland to your left. This area has recently been cleared of mature scrub that was invading the special grassland habitat. Continue to follow the path along the edge of the downland. You'll come to waymarker post with a North Downs Ridge marker on it. Follow the arrow and go down the wooden steps.
At the end of the large bowl area, continue to follow the yellow waymarker arrow. At the waymarker post, stop and turn to your right - behind you is a deep depression. There used to be an entrance here to one of the many mines in Reigate Hill. The mines were dug to extract hearthstone. This was processed outside the mine entrance into small blocks, similar in size to a bar of soap. The stone was used to whiten the front door steps of people's homes.
At the Y-junction, take the left fork and continue to follow the yellow arrow. You'll see a National Trust Omega sign to your right, pass this and continue along under Park Road. Caution watch out for vehicles. Please put dogs on leads.
As the road bends to the right, turn left onto the unsurfaced track. Then almost straight away, turn sharp left and follow the blue arrow for the Millennium trail, leading up the hill.
Halfway up the hill you'll see the Simpson Memorial. Why not stop for a rest? There's a bench just off the path on the left. On a clear day, views looking towards Box Hill and Leith Hill are spectacular.
The Simpson Memorial on Colley Hill is dedicated to Captain George Simpson, of 5th Battalion, Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment, who died in 1909, aged 26, after a short illness. This area of the hill (about three acres) was donated to the Corporation of Reigate by his mother.
Pass through the wooden gate and turn right up the steps. At the top you'll find yourself back at the Inglis Memorial, turn right through the wooden gate and follow the North Downs Way back to Wray Lane car park.
Wray Lane car park, Reigate Hill, grid ref: TQ262523
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