Things to see and do at Denbies Hillside
Denbies Hillside is the perfect place to explore Surrey’s beautiful countryside. Whether it’s wandering along the many footpaths and bridleways, watching out for wildlife including colourful butterflies and scaly lizards, or stopping for a picnic with a view towards Leith Hill, there’s plenty to see and do at Denbies Hillside for a brilliant day out.
Walking at Denbies Hillside
Embark on one of the many walks that start at or cross Denbies Hillside. From following the North Downs Way to discovering the floral banks of the Carriage Road leading to the hillside, Denbies has a trail for everyone.
Wildlife to see at Denbies Hillside
The hill and surrounding area (including Hackhurst Down, White Down and Ranmore Common) is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England for its rich variety of flora and fauna. Take a moment to savour the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Enjoy the sight of colourful butterflies fluttering over the hill and the beautiful wild orchids in the warmer months. Take in the smells of wild marjoram and thyme as you walk along the chalk grassland.
The herb-rich grassland provides food plants for the adonis blue and chalk hill blue butterflies. The rare silver-spotted skipper is also found here. A variety of sward (short grass) heights are maintained by grazing regimes, while longer areas of grass provide habitat for the marbled white butterfly. See if you can spot the black and red-spotted burnet moth here, too.
The remoteness of the hillside and rich habitat provides a refuge for a variety of reptiles. Areas of scrub and open grassland play host to adders, grass snakes, slow-worms and lizards.
The scrub and open grassland are a valuable habitat for many species of birds. Look and listen out for whitethroats and yellow hammers among the scrub, and in the open grassland you might spot kestrels and green woodpeckers.
Yellow meadow ants
Yellow meadow ants thrive on Denbies Hillside, and their anthills can be seen scattered throughout the open chalk grassland. The ants open the soil and keep it porous, as well as fertilize the grass roots with their droppings.
Unintentionally, the ants help to protect chalkhill blue butterfly caterpillars. They’re partial to the substances secreted by the butterfly’s caterpillars. Worker ants bury the larvae, which protects it from predators. This is a lovely example of symbiosis in nature.
Look out for barn owls at Westcott near Denbies. A few years ago, a nesting box became home to a pair of adult owls and their four chicks. To attract owls, we’ve encouraged areas of long tussock grass where the owl’s main prey species, mice and voles, can thrive.
Enjoy a picnic with a view
With sweeping views over the Surrey countryside and towards Leith Hill, there are many beautiful spots to throw down a rug and enjoy a picnic. There are also picnic areas in Steer’s Field, accessed by a gate from Denbies Hillside car park, and in the meadow adjacent to the Ranmore West car park.
Discover history at Denbies Hillside
The concrete pill boxes, just west of Denbies Hillside along the North Downs Way, were built in 1940 to defend London during the Second World War. They acted as barriers where the advancing enemy could be engaged before reaching the capital.
Our volunteer carpenters at Denbies Hillside have earned a great reputation for their joinery. Learn more about what they do and how you can get involved.
Come and explore the trails through woodland, heathland and farmland, all with exceptional views.
Hidden woods with ancient trees and flower-sprinkled grasslands, just off the North Downs and Pilgrims Ways
A 1,600-acre estate with elegant gardens, Edwardian house and plenty of room to play
So much to explore
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
Explore the wide array of countryside settings around Surrey, from tranquil waterways to landscaped parkland, and plenty of hills to climb.