Looking for some day hikes close to London? Look no further, in this post, I would love to share our itinerary for an amazing day hike near London: from Dorking to Leith Hill and back – discovering some of the best parts of Surrey Hills AONB and North Downs. This is a circular hike and also it’s one of the best Surrey Hills hikes, so I hope you find this post useful and interesting.
Some useful information about the hike:
Dorking to Leith Hill is a very long Surrey Hills hike. In total, we walked about 28 km or 16 miles and, according to my iPhone, climbed 57 floors. I guess there is no need to tell you to bring comfortable shoes, but it’s also worth mentioning that you need to have a decent condition to be able to walk a lot. Unfortunately, it’s hard to make this walk shorter, as there is little to no public transport from Leith Hill to Dorking, so you need to walk all the way back. So this is a circular hike.
If that didn’t scare you and you still want to do one of the best Surrey Hills hikes, then let me share out itinerary with you! Surrey Hills hikes are some of the best day hikes near London, so I definitely recommend you to try this hike out.
How to get to Surrey Hills AONB and North Downs:
The easiest way to get to Surrey Hills AONB is probably to take a direct train from London Victoria to Dorking. I assume that you’re departing from London, but if you’re not departing from London, just check how to get to Dorking. We actually started our hike one station earlier – in Box Hill and Westhumble. Many hikers descended in this spot and went to explore different parts of Surrey Hills AONB. You can pre-book tickets online on Trainline or buy them directly at London Victoria.
We departed London quite late, at noon, so we arrived at Box Hill and Westhumble station around 1 pm. I recommend starting the hike a bit earlier. It would be optimal to arrive at Surrey Hills AONB around 10 am.
During our hike, we used Google Maps to navigate and it worked pretty well, so no additional maps are needed.
Dorking to Leith Hill: the itinerary and the highlights | North Downs hike
Our Dorking to Leith Hill itinerary is as follows: we started our hike in Box Hill and West Humble and walked to Denbies Wine Estate – one of the biggest vineyards in the UK.
From there, we walked to Dorking and took a longer route to Leith Hill. On the way back, we took a shorter route back to Dorking. This is our Dorking to Leith Hill hike in a nutshell. Let me now tell you a bit more about the hike and share some of the highlights.
By the way, if you like hiking, this long Seaford to Eastbourne hike through Seven Sisters is probably my favourite. Read more about it in the post that you can find in the link.
We also had an amazing time hiking in Cornwall – one of my favourite hikes was to reach the waterfall near the Tintagel castle. Read more about it in my 3 days in Cornwall road trip itinerary.
Dorking to Leith Hill: one of the best Surrey Hills & North Downs hikes
Visiting Denbies Wine Estate
The first stop and highlight of our Surrey Hills AONB hike was the Denbies Wine Estate. Denbies has the largest vineyard in the UK and it’s very photogenic. In the visitor centre, you can find a huge shop, where you can buy all the wines as well as some gifts, souvenirs, cutlery, toys and everything else, really. The store reminded me of a TK Maxx home section.
You can also try the wines in the cafe of the Denbies Wine Estate.
Denbies also has different tours and degustations throughout the day and you can find times and more information on their official website, however, as it wasn’t our main destination, we just tasted 1 wine in the cafe and continued our journey. We also bought all the groceries for our picnic / lunch in the farm shop at Denbies and started walking to Dorking.
Denbies Wine Estate to Dorking
The walk from Denbies Wine Estate to Dorking town centre takes about 25 minutes and most of it is very pleasant as it goes through the vineyard and a little forest. Once you reach Dorking, you can stay there for a while and explore the town centre or you can start the hike and walk straight to Leith Hill.
Dorking to the Leith Hill – going there – route 2 (slower route)
Google suggested us 2 different routes from Dorking to Leith Hill, the one through Westcott that takes two hours 20 minutes and a faster one through Coldharbour Lane – just 1 hour and 40 minutes. There was a third route through Wotton as well, however, it was around 2 hours 30 minutes, which was already a bit too long.
The route through Westcott and then Logmore Lane was very photogenic. We had to walk on the road, however, there were almost no cars, but there were people riding horses, which was nice. Here are some of the photos from our walk. A part of the walk was through the forest and we managed to see 3 wild deer. It was nice to walk through a proper pine forest, I really miss these forests from my life in Saint Petersburg.
Once you reach Coldharbour, there is a lovely Inn, where you can have lunch in case you didn’t bring anything with you. However, we didn’t stop and continues walking to Leith Hill. Leith Hill is a proper hill, so getting on top of it, was a bit of effort. Again, we followed our Google Maps route and didn’t get lost.
Leith Hill – amazing viewpoint, see London from above
Once we climbed to Leith Hill, we were so happy. The views from the top of the hill were amazing. Moreover, on the top, there is a little cafe, where you can buy some sweets and tea / coffee. We did bring some food with us, but it was great to be able to buy a nice cake and some hot tea, as it was chilly on top of Leith Hill.
We couldn’t believe our eyes, but we actually were able to see Canary Wharf and the skyscrapers of the city of London from the hill!
If you want to spend more time at Leith Hill and also explore Leith Hill woodland walk, here’s an amazing route by National Trust!
The walk back to Dorking
On the way back, we were already a bit tired, so we decided to take the fastest route. Again, we had to walk on a road, however, there were not many cars. The road is quite wide, so the cars were able to pass us without any problems. The walk back was also photogenic, however, not as impressive as the walk to Leith Hill.
It took us about 1 hour 50 minutes to get to Dorking station and hop on a train back to London.
Dorking to Leith Hill: the summary (one of the best North Down hikes)
Overall, we enjoyed this hike a lot. It was a very long day hike near London and most of it laid through a road, however luckily, there were not many cars. According to My Viewranger, there was a route that went through the forest, however, we were not able to find it. We actually followed the beginning of the route, however, in the middle of the forest, the road was closed and it said “Private territory”, so we had to return to the main road.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!