Margery Wood to the Yew Tree Pub walk
The chalk downland on this stretch of the North Downs boasts rare flora and fauna and some of the most magnificent views of the Surrey Hills towards the South Downs.
Margery Wood car park, KT20 7EJ
Leave the car park (marked 1 on the map) by the path in the back right hand corner that leads south through the woods. The way-marking sign on this path is 'North Downs Ridge Circular walk'.
Margery Wood is an ancient one and because of this boasts a fantastic display of bluebells every spring. Please don't pick these precious plants - they are native and protected by law.
Walk through Margery Woods, over the motorway and through the gate (marked 2 on the map). Five metres further along, turn left (east) along the track with the fence line to your left and open downland to your right. To the south one can see Leith Hill on the right, Gatwick airport in the centre and Reigate to the left. After your last left turn, make a note of the water tower on your left - you'll need this as a landmark towards the end of your walk. The track way that you are now walking on is the North Downs Way.
Walk east along this track for about 600 metres and you'll reach the Inglis Memorial. Take a look at the roof of the structure and the plaque which shows the directions to local points of interest. After leaving the memorial, continue due east through the gate and along the track. In this section there are more woods to the south but they open up from time to time to give you glimpses of the countryside below.
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?
Continue along the pathway where to your left you will see a military-style brick-built structure. It is believed to date from the Second World War and may have been connected in some way to the British Army's South East Command centre, which operated from tunnels on private land below Reigate Hill. Shortly after this you'll come across a clearing in the trees and a wooden memorial carving. This is in remembrance of a young American air crew whose plane crashed at this site in March 1945. After about 200 metres you'll pass two telephone masts, a substation and a water tower. Reigate Fort is to your right, on the opposite site of the path.
At 5.42 pm, on 19 March 1945, a United States B-17 bomber aircraft crashed into Reigate Hill. The crew of nine were returning from a daylight raid over factories on the German/Czech border, all lost their lives at the crash site. The clearing in the beech trees here was created as the huge plane tore through the trees and undergrowth.
Just after Reigate Fort you'll pass a couple of houses (these used to be the fort keepers' houses) and then come to a small cross path (marked 5 on the map) with a small pond just beyond on the right. Take the right hand turn at this junction. The pathway here in parts is quite steep. The path splits a little way down; take the right hand fork which is way-marked as a public footpath. Ignore the next right turn and continue down the hill. At the bottom of the path you'll reach a fence where you need to turn left - you'll see the road in front of you. If you have a dog with you, please put them on a lead here.
On reaching the road, turn right and walk for about 100 metres to The Yew Tree pub (marked 6 on the map). On leaving the pub, turn left and retrace your footsteps to the first left turning (50 metres from the pub, just before Pilgrim's Cottage) and turn up a slight hill into the road. The track here is quite wide but unsurfaced after the cottages. During the Second World War, the metal railings outside all of these cottages were removed.
About 500 metres along this track you'll reach a cross roads (marked 7 on the map), where you continue straight on (slightly downhill) onto a surfaced road for about 50 metres. You'll soon see posts along the path to prevent vehicular access and a sign announcing this stretch as the 'Pilgrim's Way' which stretched from Winchester in Hampshire to Canterbury in Kent.
Once clear of the town, the track has fields to the left and the scarp slope on the right - follow this (ignoring paths into the valley or up the slope) for about 1200 metres, passing the Colley Hill mines until you come to a major track crossing (marked 8 on the map) when you turn hard right up this new track.
Colley Hill mines
The stone mined in this area of Surrey dries into a chalky white colour and was used as a substance to clean hearths and doorsteps during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as hearthstone, it was a popular cleaning product. Enterprising land owners opened a mine at Colley Hill in the 1890s. The mine included its own processing works where the stone was mechanically crushed and pressed into moulded blocks. The heyday of the mine was the 1920s when there was a daily delivery to London.
Follow the track up the hill (here you are climbing the scarp face of the North Downs) through the woods, round the left bend (ignore the steps off to the right) and continue up Juniper Hill. At the top, as the path flattens out, swing right and then shortly afterwards turn right again (marked 9 on the map) and you are back on the North Downs Way. Walk along this path (going east) and to your left in a short time you'll see through the trees a rather fine Lutyens house as well as a Corporation of London coal tax post dating to the 1850s. Continue along this path (the North Downs Way) in an easterly direction until you come to a gate which opens onto Colley Hill. Walk through the gate and follow the fence to your right until you reach the top of the grassy scarp slope with views over Surrey and Sussex. Follow the grassy path east along the top of the slope and you'll see the water tower that you noticed at the start of your walk. Walk towards the tower and you'll come to the gate (marked 2 on the map) which leads to the bridge over the motorway and back through the woods to the Margery Wood car park (marked 1 on the map).
Margery Wood car park, KT20 7EJ
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