This week’s Route Master: Rick Pearson, assistant editor, Men’s Running.
Where is it? From Box Hill to Reigate Hill, heading eastwards along the North Downs Way. Exit the train at either Box Hill & Westhumble or Dorking station and follow signs to the North Downs Way. Head up the steps to the top of Box Hill (kudos if you can run up these) and enjoy a much-needed flat section at the top of the hill. It’s (generally) downhill to the foot of Colley Hill, taking in wooded tracks, fields and the occasional cow. You don’t have to be a navigational ninja to keep on the right track. Equally, though, it’s very possible to get lost, so you might want to invest in a map. Grit your teeth up Colley Hill – it’ll be over before you know it, honest. Continue eastwards along the top of the hill. In less than a mile, you’ll be at Reigate Hill. When you get there, feast on the view. You’ll have deserved it.
How far is it? Seven miles, but it’s very hilly.
Added extras? The stepping stones at the bottom of Box Hill and the panoramic views at the top of Reigate Hill.
Terrain? An exciting mix of dirt, grass, gravel, road and the occasional set of stairs. In the summer, you can get away with road shoes. In the winter, you’ll want the trail variety.
Why do you like it? Partly, the nostalgia. I first ran this route when I was training for the 2013 North Downs Way 50, my first and only ultramarathon. It’s also one of the few ‘proper trails’ in the south-east, complete with a variety of terrain and some truly testing inclines. Even during summer, it’s surprisingly free of people; you can run for an hour and hardly see anyone. For a Londoner looking to escape the hubbub of city life, that makes it a truly special trail.
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