Weekend Walk: Reigate Heath (4.5 + 3.25 miles)

This more or less level walk takes you through woods and fields close to Reigate. Reigate Heath is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), one of the most important wildlife designations nationally and a Local Nature Reserve (LNR). It is an important example of the lowland heath habitat, including heather and acid grassland. Reigate Heath Windmill is a grade II* listed post mill which has been restored and is used as a chapel. It is thought to be the only windmill in the world which is a consecrated church. The walk was submitted by Guildford Rambling Club (see guildfordramblingclub.org.uk).

1. Walk back to the A25 and cross into Colley Lane. Walk up, over the railway, past the Rugby Club and, at a T junction with a road (the Clears) turn left. Continue to where it swings sharp right and then follow the signpost through stables and out, north, towards the North Downs. Just inside the tree line at the foot of the slope, turn left.

2. After 200 yards, go straight over a cross paths. Keep going along the bottom of the Downs, heading west for about ¾ mile, until reaching a cross path at a 3-way signpost with steps coming down from its right. Turn left and walk down into a field. Go through a gate and down the right-hand side of the field to a gap just before trees jutting out into the field. Turn right, go through the gap and walk past Underhill Farm (on your left). Immediately past the end of its garden take a footpath left, cross its drive and head straight on through trees and into another field. Cross to the far side, aiming for a stile to the right of the buildings of Dowdes Farm. Go straight over the farm’s access track into the next field and straight forward to exit over a stile in the far left-hand corner. Follow the narrow path left, along the bottom of the railway embankment, until emerging on a farm track.

3. Turn right and go under the railway line. Immediately take a footpath left, onto a narrow path climbing a short steep slope. Follow this path, paralleling the railway line, to the far edge of the field which is on your right. Go over a stile and turn right to walk along the fence line of the next field. At the far end, go over a stile, left, onto the end of a driveway. Jink left to cross and take a footpath left, running along by a wall. Follow this through kissing gates, a metal gate in an arch in a hedge and eventually reach another driveway. Turn left and walk out into Clifton’s Lane. Turn right and walk down to the A25. You can see the edge of Reigate Heath along to your left. You could walk along close to the A25 to reach it or you could cross and go forward and then left through the trees.

4. Proceed to the starting car parking area – a possible end point. If not stopping, join, at the left-hand end of the car parking area on the eastern (Reigate) side of the road, the footpath running right, in the edge of the trees. Follow the wide sandy (leeched soil) track running away from the road. Walk about 700 yards to emerge by the 16th tee at the edge of Reigate Heath golf course. Continue a few yards further to reach a road. Turn left. The Skimmington Castle pub is up a track forking off right and up a slope or you could picnic nearby .

5. After lunch you could simply walk back to the cars. If continuing, take the bridleway forking left at the bottom of the slope running up to the pub. Reach a junction with two signposts. Continue straight ahead and through the gate leading to Littleton Farm. Follow the access track as it swings around the farm’s grounds. Continue straight across a cross track. Further on the track swings right but you take a footpath into a field, left. Go across it to exit from the far left corner and follow a path between hedges to reach a road.

6. Go straight across and follow the wide track opposite, passing a house and a wooden barn marked Ricebridge Farm. Continue on between fields and then trees. Ignore a rutted track forking off left and reach a 4-way signpost. Turn left. Pass a large house (Ricebridge Farm) and quickly find a footpath right, into a large field. In the field turn right to head north, pass two pillboxes and reach (now rebuilt as apartments) Wonham Mill. At the road by the mill, turn left and walk for a few yards to find a footpath heading right. Immediately fork left. Do not cross the footbridge by the Mill. Follow this path away from the Mill and up to Dungates Farm.

7. At the farm turn right on the lane/track through the buildings. Continue on until you reach Ivy Cottage. Now branch out left, across the golf course’s fairway and heading up the slope to the Windmill and the Club House. Go through the car park and, at the far end, take a little unsigned path off right and down through gorse/bracken. Cross one track and turn left at the next. Keep on along here, forking right at one point, staying close to and more or less parallel to Flanchford Road until you reach the corner of Reigate Heath and the starting car park.

DISTANCE: A 4.25 mile and a 3.5 mile loop
OS MAPS: Explorer 146 Dorking, Box Hill & Reigate, Leatherhead & Caterham
STARTING POINT: The parking area in Flanchford Road at the side of Reigate Heath, off the A25 just to the west of Reigate and close to the Black Horse pub (RH2 9JZ)

Top image: Reigate Heath Windmill in Summer by Ian Capper.

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