Urban walk – Dorking

Several cups of tea sized post, so stick the kettle on, your virtual shoes and anything you need for hills…

As part of module, we are asked to complete an urban walk. So here is Dorking nestled in Mole Valley also known as Mole Gap. Not very urban and probably immediately obvious what some of the environmental risks are with climate change and global warming. Dorking history. This walk looping from south – west – north – bit of south crossover – east then back west to south starting point near Deepdene

The valley photo (taken from top of Box Hill) doesn’t do justice to the height, these are smaller hills than other parts of UK but still both Box Hill and Leith Hill over 170 metres.

The arc shaped field in the centre of the photo is the bottom of Box Hill with the River Mole bending past. The river does not go directly into Dorking but a tributary – Pipp Brook runs through the centre. There are two railway lines not visible but one goes from London  Victoria to Horsham and the other bends round from Gatwick through Dorking then towards Reading. Other environmental issues include – the areas being drilled using fracturing are at the left of the photo – just out of sight is Felton farm in Brockham and larger sites near Gatwick, with recent earthquakes across Mole Valley and surrounds. Water contamination issues under investigation. Surrey also has over 200 golf courses and Dorking area is no stranger to them, which take from the local groundwater supply. Flooding is not usually an issue but will be covered later.

Right, let’s head off.

Asecending to Deepdene (I think in this case dene means valley) and the first hill viewpoint – Cotmandene which is like a seaside cliff road:

looking across Dorking with the distinctive spire of St Michaels church in the centre of the valley (and town) towards the North Downs ridge and parts of Denbies vineyard on the hillside

then looking right – across the A24 also in a valley towards Box Hill

Next heading along the Deepdene hills to St Paul’s, then Glory Wood now part of the Deepdene trail. Still facing towards the North Downs with the final photo in this group facing down towards the town centre from the top of Sainsburys car park: 

Adjacent to St Paul’s is the edge of Rose Hill before heading further south/west towards Westcott – this beautiful field is just round the corner of the same car park would you believe:

Turning 180 degrees and Rose Hill House and the high street / town centre

Pump Corner where old meets modern in the centre of the valley:

Facing down north street leads to the pumphouse:


However we’re heading along West Street for now with lots of antique shops and Dorking Museum
I can’t find origins of this building yet but guess it probably wasn’t a pet shop:

Turning north from West Street into Dorking West area with industrial estates and up towards the North Downs ridge and the first encounter with Pipp Brook at the bottom of the hill:

Now turning east and facing back across the valley from the bottom of the North Downs ridge from parallel roads:

There is only one public recycling facility for oil, white goods, larger items of recycling but unfortunately under threat of closure by Surrey County Council (not Mole Valley district council)

Some solar panels in use but not widespread, the government grant for domestic solar PV panels has been withdrawn making it unaffordable for most. However Dorking was one of the earlier Transition Towns (we were involved when I lived in Leatherhead several years ago – part of a Mole Valley Green forum) and has an active solar panel group and CIC so this may change again.

Descending from the bottom of the ridge to Meadowbank and Dorking Wanderers football club before reuniting with Pipp Brook:

Meadowbank green   

Across the brook is the pump house and the 1 minute walk up North Street past the old granary, a familiar spire and up into the Pump Corner:


Stop for a coffee and recharge for the final third. Shameless plug for Musette who give Dorking Food Float discounted coffee for volunteers which we get free! They have a bike rack at the back of the tiny cafe which is very popular with the MANY cyclists going through Dorking.

So apparently it’s a good idea to go east to Box Hill now and forget the urban bit but there’s shortly going to be a reason. Pipp Brook (in case you haven’t seen enough of it) winding through Meadowbank on the south side. Here’s a car park too next to a small pedestrianised street and another shameless plug for Burgundy and Black – the very friendly community cafe.

Bonus points if you spot the duck. The brook is very shallow at the moment due to the lack of rainfall.

Heading across Meadowbank and the pond shows the closeness of houses to Pipp Brook and the ponds. Unlikely to flood unless we get extreme rainfall (not impossible in the future) andthe underground pipe infrastructure could also become overloaded. Second change to spot a duck in case you missed the first one.

And the first of two mills – Pipp Brook Mill, now private accommodation – apparently The Cure recorded here when there was a studio.

A 2 minute walk towards the A24 where Pipp Brook House is now being converted to residential apartments for older people. Alongside offices, residential properties is another economic activity being discussed for Mole Valley Local Plan including controversial use of greenfield as well as brownfield sites for 5000 theoretically affordable homes (in another universe as this is Surrey). Then past Dorking stations and the Sunday car boot sale towards Denbies vineyard:

A brief saunter along the pavement by the A24 to Box Hill stepping stones car park with lots of teenagers doing their Duke of Edinburgh practice with full kit heading up Box Hill today, outdoor fitness probably not entirely appreciated as they ascend.I heard some tourists saying oh look we are nearly there as they made it towards the top of the first set of steps, I didn’t wanten to dishearten them but that’s not quite the top of Box Hill

Further along the A24 is Burford Bridge and motorbike stopoff by the River Mole and subject to flooding. Wild garlic now out alongside the River Mole. POLITE NOTICE – the stepping stones are being repaired and may not be available until mid September so go take the left path from the car park to the bridge:

Pause to go up and down Box Hill < > Once you can breathe again, heading alongside the River Mole eastward. Ecosystems services provided by the river have helped agriculture in the past as well as industrial services. Water treatment is carried out on the other bank.

Finally found a place to cross the river by a fishing area (not permitted at the moment).

Other fishing areas in Dorking are by Westcott old Bury Hill fisheries I may be doing some riverfly monitoring near Pipp Brook in the future, fish eat riverflies

And the second mill – also residential property now – Castle Mill

Threading back through Pixham to the A25 and back to the town centre

Finishing off the walk with another Dorking cockerel (occasionally gets decorated by Dorking guerilla knitters) on the A24/A25 roundabout with Mole Valley District Council offices in what may be old oast houses on the PippBrook house estate.


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