Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Stepping Stones Walk across the River Mole

On a pleasant Sunday, A took us to Box Hill, in the North Downs in Surrey.  The hill takes its name from the Box woodland – Box – a species of flowering shrub/small tree. We decided to do the Stepping Stone walking trail down to the River Mole and up.  It was categorized a moderate walk of about 2 hours and at the visitors centre we picked up a leaflet with the map of the trail and set out.

Salomon's Memorial Viewpoint - pic credit Wiki - there were so many people there that I did not take a picture.

We walked up to the Salomon’s memorial viewpoint.  Leopold Salomon was a financier, who  in 1914 purchased Box Hill to prevent it from development.  Wish we had someone like him in India. He really does deserve a memorial for such a noble act !    From here one gets a glorious view right across to the South Downs.

 As we set off there were steps and more steps that were cut into the ground.  275 of them said the leaflet.  Some were very steep.  Since there had been rain the preceding days one had to be really careful.  

275 steps in all

As we proceeded downhill, we could see the river and had to make a choice whether to take the stepping stones or use the bridge. We chose the stones.  The stones were slippery and we needed to be alert and cautious as we crossed the river. 

Stepping Stones across the River Mole , they were removed in World War II in case of an invasion - pic credit A
A bridge just in case you did not want to use the stepping stones

We walked to a gate which led to a large open space called the Burford Meadow.  As we continued across the meadow, one could see the wooded chalk cliffs.  These are the Whites.

Wooded chalk cliffs - the Whites
At the end of the meadow, we got on to the road and crossed over to a little opening just past a hotel, that took us on a steep track up the hill.  As we proceed uphill the ridge was chalky white. 

We then took a turn that was not on our trail (unintentional) but went past an interesting grave of Labilliere that read An eccentric resident of Dorking was buried here head downwards.  Labilliere was of French descent, he joined the British Army and rose to be a major. He then became a political agitator and moved to Dorking to meditate. He was known for his eccentric ways. 

The memorial stone of Labilliere

The trail then led us back to the Visitor's Centre.  From there we took a path that led us to the Box Hill Fort. The fort ( not a fort in the real sense) was built in the 1800s when mobilization centres were constructed to protect London from the threat of invasion from continental Europe.  It was part of the London Defence Scheme that stretched for 116 kms on the North Downs with 13 military installations.  It was one of the earliest examples of reinforced cement being used in construction of these structures. The fort was never meant for artillery but as a concrete rampart to protect nearby trenches from which the infantry would fight.
Box Hill Fort

The fort was never used.  The tunnels that were meant for ammunition storage are now inhabited by bats and since they are a protected species in the UK,  the interiors are not opened for public.

Just as we walked back to the parking lot the skies opened up and there was a heavy downpour.  What a lovely walk this was. 

(October 2017)

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