The Box Hill hike is an amazing hike with one of the best viewpoints in England. This guide has all the info to help plan your day at Box Hill.
If you’re looking for another incredible hike through the English countryside then I can’t recommend the Box Hill hike enough.
Located in the Surrey Hills and close to the town of Dorking, this is a hike that’ll take you beside beautiful farmland, through ancient woodland and up to a viewpoint that’s one of the best you’ll find in Great Britain.
Add in a quaint pub that’s perfectly positioned halfway along the route and you’ve got all the makings of an amazing day out.
Recently Chloe and I have been going on loads of day trips from London. We just absolutely love getting out on the city and into the countryside.
So, if you’re looking at doing the Box Hill circular walk, this is the guide for you.
There are a number of walks in this area and it’s quite confusing which trail to follow. That’s why I wanted to write a post specifically concentrating on the longer version of the hike.
In this post I’ll go through the route, how long the hike will take, where you can stop off along the way and loads of other practical information too.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy this hike as much as we did!
Where is Box Hill?
Box Hill is located in the North Downs in Surrey. This whole area is known as the Surrey Hills and it’s officially an area of outstanding natural beauty. As I’m sure you can imagine, there are loads of walking trails all around here.
Box Hill gets its name from the ancient box woodland and box trees found on the trail. You’ll be walking through this woodland on the Box Hill hike, but it’s nice to know where the name comes from while you’re here.
As this place is just 31 km south-west of London, it is very easy to get to Box Hill either by driving or by train.
You may also recognise Box Hill from the 2012 Olympics. This was the site of the men and women’s road race where the cyclists had to tackle Box Hill a number of times.
I’ve cycled it myself before for the Prudential RideLondon and it’s a toughie. It definitely gets the lungs burning that’s for sure, but the views are well worth it.
If you drive here, be prepared to see lots of cyclists on the road. Since the Olympics this has become one of the most popular places for road cycling in the UK. It can get particularly busy during the evenings and weekends in the summer.
How to get to Box Hill
Getting from London to Box Hill is very quick and easy. There are direct trains from either London Waterloo or Victoria station (with a stop at Clapham Junction).
Both of these trains are direct to Box Hill & Westhumble station and take around 55 minutes. The best bit is if you buy an off-peak day return it only costs £9.80. I think that’s really good value for money.
Alternatively, you can drive to Box Hill. There are a number of Box Hill car parks in the area – some paid, some free. If you want to drive to the very top of Box Hill there’s a car park and visitors centre at the top. This is a paid car park and will cost you £6 for the whole day, £4 for up to 4 hours, or £1.50 for up to 2 hours.
How long does the Box Hill hike take?
The Box Hill hike is fairly challenging with a couple of very steep sections. It flirts between a moderate and hard difficulty.
In total, this hike is around 8 miles (12.8kms), so will take you anywhere between 4 to 6 hours to complete including stops along the way.
You might want to factor in 30 minutes to an hour if you decide to have lunch at the King William IV pub halfway along the route.
Also, if you start from Box Hill & Westhumble station, then add on another hour of walking (30 minutes each way) from the station to the top of Box Hill where this hike starts. Unfortunately there’s no shortcut from the station. It is still a beautiful walk though and gives you a taster for what’s to come!
As an idea, we took around 5 hours to do this walk including a stop for a snack, a stop for a drink at the pub, a long stop for lunch and a fair few photos along the way.
Highlights on the Box Hill walking route
The start point: Box Hill Visitors Centre
The hike starts and finishes from the Box Hill Visitors Centre.
At the Visitors Centre there is a kiosk where you can buy snacks and drinks for your hike. There’s also a water refilling station and toilets here too – I recommend going before you head off.
If you head over the road opposite the Visitors Centre then you’ll see a sign saying ‘Box Hill Hike’ pointing off to the left. Now, you may be tempted to follow the crowds to the right – DO NOT FOLLOW THEM! This leads you to the Box Hill viewpoint. I promise you it’s best saving this till the end of your hike.
If you follow the path to the left, you’ll walk through the Box Hill Happy Valley Trail which is a short walk for kids and families. If you keep on walking through this area and through the trees then you’re heading in the right direction.
As I mentioned, there are a number of walking trails shooting off in all directions. The signs you’ll want to follow are the red ‘Box Hill Hike’ signs. Just keep on following the red signposts and you’ll be fine.
Section 2: Broadwood’s Tower to Mickleham church
The first viewpoint you’ll come to is Broadwood’s Tower. This was built in the early 19th century as a lookout tower and it is in such a beautiful spot with views over the valley. Unfortunately the tower has been bricked up so you can’t go inside it, but it’s well worth stopping here for a few photos.
Follow the trail through the woods and keep on following those red signs. There are load of places where you can wander off into the woods, but the main path is fairly clear.
You’ll eventually come out of the woods and start walking down some steep steps to the valley floor. From here, take the path to the left and keep on walking until you come to the road.
Once you cross the road, you’ll come to the steepest section on the Box Hill walk. This is a pretty tough ascent up some steps that are a real calf burner. I would say just take your time on this bit and stop lots – there’s no rush at all.
At the top of the steps there’s another woodland section. Follow the path through the woods. After the steps, this is a really peaceful section which I really enjoyed walking through.
Once you come out the woods, you’ll follow the path beside some fields before coming to Mickleham church. This is a really cute church which you can explore if you fancy it.
If not, walk past the church to the right and you’ll eventually come to a playfield and kids playarea. This is where we stopped for a snack and to rest our legs for a bit.
However, if you want to have lunch at the pub, then keep on walking for a bit – the pub is just around the corner!
Section 3: King William IV pub to the Mickleham Gallops
If at any point you get lost, use Google Maps and head towards the King William IV pub (this link will take you there on Google). This is a really lovely pub that’s just over halfway along the Box Hill walking route.
We stopped off at the pub for a refreshing pint, but plenty of people who were also doing the Box Hill hike had lunch there. Nothing can beat a cold pint on a hot afternoon – it was just what I needed for the second half of the hike.
As you leave the pub, make sure you turn right up and head up the steps. This is the one point which we got lost at, so don’t head down!
At the top of the steps you’ll walk through another section of woodland. Again, this section can be a little confusing. We walked all the way to the end of the path and then turned right. This lead us out onto the Mickleham Gallops.
The Gallops is a wide-open area of grassland, so you can’t miss it. This is another great place to stop and have a bite to eat or a picnic if you fancy it.
The Gallops used to be the site for an old Roman road through the countryside. Also, during WW2, Churchill would land his plane on the gallops to visit Lord Beaverbrook who was a Minister for aircraft production and a key member of the war cabinet. How cool is that!?
Section 4: Cherkley Wood to Headley Heath
At the end of the grassy Gallops, follow the path through the woods. This will take you back downhill towards the road. Once you’ve walked past the house, enter Headley Heath through gate 26 and follow the track.
Headley Heath is a really nice section with rolling hills and fields full of colourful flowers. There are a few benches around here too, so I would really recommend stopping and taking in the views. This is what hiking through the English countryside is all about after all.
If you keep on following the path it’ll eventually take you onto a road near the little village of Pebble Coombe. The one thing to keep an eye out for here is when the road forks – make sure you take the right fork.
There aren’t many signs along this section, but just keep following the road until it takes you back onto a narrow path. This will take you past a holiday park so if you see that you know you’re on the right path.
Section 5: Box Hill viewpoint
Now we’re onto the final section of the Box Hill circular hike. There are a few points along here that you’ll have the most gorgeous views of the English countryside that the Surrey Hills is so famous for.
There’s one bench (where the above photo was taken) that overlooks the farmlands below. This might’ve been my favourite viewpoint on the whole hike because not everyone passes by here. It’s only if you’re doing one of the longer walks that you’ll come here.
Keep on following the path that’ll take you through the woods, past farmland until you’re directly below the Box Hill viewpoint.
If you keep on following the path around and up the hill, it’ll eventually lead you out of a small clearing and you’ll be greeted with another spectacular viewpoint.
This is back at the top of Box Hill at the very end of the hike and the views are just stunning. During summer, there’s usually an ice cream van in the car park, so we treated ourselves to an ice cream and sat on Box Hill for a bit taking in the views.
Further info on the walking route
To be honest with you, the above is a somewhat simplified version of the Box Hill hike. In reality, there are loads of directions I could’ve added in, but I wanted to highlight the major directions where people go wrong and add in a few stop-off points along the way too.
If you do go wrong or stray off the path, here is a link to the full directions. Hopefully this will help you out in times of need.
It’s also worth noting that a lot of this route takes you through the forest. It’s only really towards the end of the hike that you’ll start seeing beautiful views.
However, for me, this is one of the things I love about the hike. Knowing what’s at the end really builds up that sense of anticipation. And I promise you the viewpoint at the end makes all those hills worth it!
Hotels near Box Hill, Surrey
Budget: Running Horses, Mickleham
Located in the heart of Mickleham, the Running Horses is a charming 16th century pub and a lovely place to stay in the area.
The Running Horses Hotel was once an old coach house servicing the route from London to the South. This means people have been staying here for hundreds of years, so the pub is packed full of character and history.
Today, its boasts 6 delightful en-suite rooms, fully equipped with all modern facilities, and a superb restaurant. Even if you don’t stay here, I really recommend visiting the Running Horses for a drink or for dinner.
Mid-range: The White Horse Hotel, Dorking
Located in Dorking, the White Horse Hotel is conveniently close to the hustle and bustle of the town while being on the doorstep of the Surrey Hills.
This former 18th-century coach house has a restaurant serving locally sourced produce and an artisan bakery and deli. These historic settings can count Charles Dickens as a former visitor.
Luxury: Beaverbrook, Leatherhead
Located in Leatherhead, Beaverbrook is a very luxurious 5* hotel where you can really rest and relax. Like most 5* hotels in England, there is an amazing spa here. It’s also in the most gorgeous grounds that are well worth exploring too.
If you like the finer things in life then this is a fantastic place to stay after the Box Hill hike.
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