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Things to do at Box Hill

A family carrying a picnic and walking along the path towards the view point at Box Hill.
A family enjoying a walk at Box Hill | © National Trust Images/John Millar

With its beautiful scenery, wildlife and viewpoints, Box Hill is a wonderful place to get outdoors and enjoy the natural world. Whether you want a leisurely walk with your family or to compete against friends as you cycle the Zig Zag road, there is plenty to explore. From butterflies to rare orchids, observe the changes of the seasons as well as wildlife as you discover the best of Box Hill.

Planning your family visit

  • Toilets and baby changing facilities are next to the café
  • High-chairs and children's lunches are available in the café
  • Picnics are welcome
  • For the most buggy-friendly routes, please ask at the Shepherd's Hut in the car park
  • The family-friendly natural play trail is a 2-mile level route starting at the car park

Spring and summer bring a rainbow of colour with the arrival of bright orchids and multicoloured butterflies.

Box Hill butterflies

Over 38 different species of butterfly have been spotted at Box Hill in recent years, including the holly blue, brimstone and painted lady. While picking a favourite is impossible, here’s a list of some to look out for:

Marbled white: this has distinctive chequerboard black and white markings and like to sunbathe on tall flowers.

Purple emperor: the biggest butterfly at Box Hill. The males protect their territories at the top of the tallest trees, but they come down to ground level to feed.

Adonis blue: this has a fascinating life cycle, as its caterpillars are cared for by ants. Although now nationally quite rare, you might spot it on the chalk downland here.

Purple Emperor butterfly
Purple Emperor butterfly | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

Orchid spotting at Box Hill

During the warmer months you might see a variety of orchids. Seventeen species have been recorded on Box Hill, some of which are extremely rare or threatened. Here are just some to look out for:

Fragrant orchid: this can have up to 200 densely packed pink-purple flowers, on a purplish stem. They have a sickly-sweet smell to attract insects.

Pyramidal orchid: these are a bright cerise colour, with tightly clustered flowers at the top of the stem. When clustered together, the little flowers form a distinct pyramid shape.

Bee orchid: this distinctive orchid looks and smells like a female bee to attract male bees to pollinate it.

Walking at Box Hill

Take in some of Surrey's finest views on one of the way-marked walks at Box Hill. Taking in chalk grassland, woodland or pasture, there's always something to see whatever the season. Choose from a leisurely stroll with friends, a longer hike or a playful trail for families.

Two cyclists on the Zig Zag road at Box Hill, with views of the Surrey Hills in the background
Cyclists on the Zig Zag road at Box Hill | © National Trust Images/Jason Ingram

Cycling at Box Hill

Box Hill is well and truly on the map for road cycling following the London 2012 Olympic road races, part of which were held here. Billions of people around the world watched international athletes battle it out on the challenging 2.5km Zig Zag road.

With an average gradient of 4.9 per cent, the Box Hill circuit is among the most desired achievements of amateur and professional cyclists alike. The fastest climb, which rises by 133m, is recorded as an eye-watering 4 minutes 37 seconds at an average speed of 32.5kmh. Box Hill beat the winding French Alpine passes to be crowned the most popular cycling hill climb in the world.

Cycling through history

Box Hill has always been popular among road cyclists, and as early as the 1890s hundreds of people lined the road for Dorking Cycle Club events. The road’s steep gradients, sharp turns and gruelling long climbs meant that road races, hill climbs and time trials became a regular occurrence.

It was also seen as a scenic spot for Victorian day trippers to escape the smoggy air of inner-city London.

A mother and her daughter sit on a picnic blanket on a grassy hill at Box Hill, Surrey.

Discover more at Box Hill

Find out when Box Hill is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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