The Leith Hill 50 Things Trail
With its hills and woodland, Leith Hill is a great place to learn more about nature and tackle some of the 50 things challenges. The trail has two parts. It starts around the Rhododendron Wood and then goes up Leith Hill itself and is for the truly determined. But great rewards await at the top!
Notes to participants
This trail has two parts. The first section is around the Rhododendron Wood and suitable for quite young children. The second part takes you up Leith Hill itself and has a steepish section. Remember to bring binoculars for bird-watching and a magnifying glass will help with the bug hunting. Enjoy your day of adventure!
Rhododendron Wood Car Park RH5 6LU
Start in the Rhododendron Walk car park, furthest from the road entrance. Walk away from the noticeboard towards to the area of grass, which has some picnic tables. This is the site for your first activity - make a grass trumpet.
Activity #1 Make a grass trumpet
Find a broad strand of grass, gently cut it short. Place the strand of grass between your two thumbs, and blow. Can you make different notes?
Follow the path from the meadow down a slight slope. At the T-junction by the two seats turn left, signposted Leith Hill Place. Walk about 70 metres and at the next T-junction turn right signposted Leith Hill Place. Follow the path down the slope. Ignore the entrance to Leith Hill Place, continuing on the path to the right, down the slope. Stop in the small wooded area for your second activity.
Activity #2 Catch a falling leaf
Stand under the trees. Look up to the sky and try and catch a leaf as they tumble down. Who among you can catch the most?
Walk a little further forward along the path, turn left at the junction and you will notice a giant redwood tree beside the fence. Stop here for activity number three.
Activity #3 Measure the tree
With the help of your family, use your arms to measure the circumference (or girth) around the trunk of the tree. How many family members are needed to get all of the way around the tree? How many metres do you estimate the circumference to be? Take a moment to observe the tree’s bark, what does it feel like?
Carry on to the right of the redwood tree along the path up a slight slope and over a footbridge. At the junction turn left down the path winding through the rhododendrons. At the bench turn right and head uphill along the path and bend to the left. Stop along this path for your next challenge.
Activity #4 Make a mud pie
Find a puddle and squidge the water with the earth. When you’ve mixed up a muddy potion, use this to make a mud pie. Who (or what) do you think eats mud pies? Does the mud feel cool?
Clean your hands on the grass or the bracken beside you. Then continue along the path to the T-junction and turn right, heading back up the path to the car park. This is the end of part one. You may want to have a break and snack here before you head up the big hill!
Exit the car park at the entrance and turn right along Tanhurst Lane following the orange waymark posts. Walk carefully along the road for about 70 metres. Cross the road and go up the steps by another orange marker. Cross the second road carefully and then take the path to the left by a further orange marker. Take care as you climb up a short steep section of the hill. You're now doing your activity number five. Stop to catch your breath if you need to.
Activity #5 Climb a big hill
You are in fact climbing a really big hill. Leith Hill is the second highest hill in Surrey. If you reach the tower at the top you will be at the highest point in the South East of England. Can you see the sea?
Bear right and after a little while the path will even out and the walking gets easier. After 300 metres you will come to a horse barrier (poles across the path) and a T-junction. Go through the barrier and head right continuing up the hill and following the orange markers towards the tower. As you walk collect some items for your next activity - only collect dead material. Stop by the noticeboard when you reach the top.
Activity #6 Create wild art
While you walk search for different shaped leaves on the ground, twigs, stones; anything which looks interesting. When you reach the open area by the noticeboard at the top, take a moment to create a picture on the ground using the items you have collected. What shapes can you create? Can you make a tower, like the one at Leith Hill from leaves? Why not take a photo? We want to look after the wildlife and plants around us, please make sure that you only use dead material and be careful not to pick any plants that are growing.
Having done that hard work of climbing up the hill, let's have some fun by rolling down. Walk up to the tower and then roll down the slopes towards the notice board.
Activity #7 Roll down a big hill
Find a safe space on the hill and roll down it, make sure there is nothing in your way before you take on this challenge.
Pick yourself up and step back onto the gravel path, follow this round to where the view opens up. Here you will have a good vantage point to stop and watch the birds that enjoy the trees and bushes nearby.
Activity #8 Bird watching
Take a moment to stop to listen to what is around you. Can you hear any birds? How many different sounds can you hear? How many different birds can you see?
This is one of the highest points in south-east England. Stop to admire the views to the South Downs. As you are walking around, look closely at the tree bark, logs, grassy and muddy areas so you can complete your next two activities.
Activity#9 Bug hunting. Activity #10 Track wild animals
Find a muddy patch on the track and look closer. Can you see any animal footprints? If you are lucky enough you may be able to see deer hoof prints or badger foot prints. What other animals do you imagine live in the woods? Also look out for places where bugs might be hiding, are there spiders lurking on the bracken or beetles under dead wood? Can you spot spiders' webs or beetle chewed leaves? If you find any creatures, make sure you are gentle with them and leave them where you found them.
You can continue to do these last two activities as you retrace your steps down the hill back to the car park. Remember to follow the orange way-markers on your way down, walking through the low barriers onto the path down towards the road. Take care when crossing.
Now you have reached the Rhododendron Wood, make your way once again to the picnic benches. Here take part in the last activity.
Activity #11 Walk barefoot
Walk towards the meadow from the rhododendron wood car park. There find a bench to sit for a moment and remove your shoes. Walk bare foot across the ground, what does the ground feel like? Soft? Smooth? Squidgy? Is it grassy or are there leaves under foot?
Congratulations! You have completed the 50 Things challenge at Leith Hill, you are now a true adventurer!
Rhododendron Wood Car Park RH5 6LU
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