Box Hill arrived on the public radar following the 2012 Olympic cycle ride - as the most gruelling section of the race. Thanks to this, most people will remember Box Hill, even if they have never visited.
But Box Hill has been one of our favourite places to walk and explore long before London was ever chosen to host the Olympics. Popular with school field trips and nature lovers, as well as cyclists, it dominates the scenery just outside the pretty market town of Dorking in Surrey. From the very top of Box Hill you can see for miles and miles on a clear day - from the Denbies vineyards at the foothills to the peak of Leith Hill and way beyond. The views are stunning.
Best of all, Box Hill is completely dog friendly, offering everything from a gentle stroll through the woods by the River Mole, to a more strenuous uphill/downhill clamber. You can choose whatever you like! For the more adventurous you can take a number of well marked hikes from the top to occupy you and your dog for a few hours. Just come prepared for a longer walk and pick up a leaflet with the route from the National Trust car park or café at the top of the hill.
When we take the dogs to Box Hill we usually park at Ryka's café at the bottom of the hill, just off the A24 by the Burford Bridge Hotel. It doesn't cost anything to park here, whereas the National Trust car parks at the top do levy a parking fee. But beware, Ryka's car park does get busy as it's a popular meeting place for motorbikers most weekends.
From Ryka's car park we cross the road and take the footpath heading up onto Box Hill, walking through the gate (shutting it closed behind us) and continuing up the steep grassy escarpment.
Dog walkers TAKE CARE!
It's here that you may find cattle grazing on the grassy slope, so be sure to keep your dogs under strict control until you know that the coast is clear. If there is no sign of livestock then your dogs may roam free.
It's quite a strenuous uphill walk to the very top, it really will get your heart pumping. But the views will reward you in buckets and if you feel you need to replenish your energy reserves, you can stop at the café at the top or walk over to the viewing point and just enjoy the scenery while you catch your breath.
When we've had enough of soaking up the views we then usually follow the footpath from the top, near the café, which is signposted to the 'stepping stones'. This is down a pathway covered in loose gravel so be sure to have appropriate footwear. There are many steps to help you on your way down (or up if you do the walk in reverse order).
At the bottom you reach the River Mole and the stepping stones which get you to the other side if you're feeling brave. If you're not, or you don't think your dog will cope with the stepping stones then don't worry, there is a nearby footbridge. We will usually stay around here with the dogs for some playtime, letting them go for a swim upstream of the stepping stones. Taffy loves to chase sticks into the water and have a paddle, whereas Reina needs a little more encouragement to jump in.
We finish our walk following the footpath along the banks of the River Mole, to the Burford Bridge Hotel and Ryka's café car park. There's plenty of wildlife along here and if your there at the right time of year, the river banks are covered in Wild Garlic. The whole walk takes around 1 1/2 hours including a stop for hot chocolate.
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We love taking our dogs to the beach for some fun in the sun and a splash in the sea. We usually go to the beautiful West Wittering in West Sussex, but decided to try Camber Sands next door in East Sussex and check out the beach with the pooches.
It got a very definite paws up from Reina and Taffy who both had the best time there and slept all the way home. Read more about our day trip to Camber Sands with the pooches and maybe go and take a visit there yourself.