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Saturday 15th December 2007
Betchworth - Gomshall via Box Hill

We pocketed our passports and crossed the county border by train into neighbouring Surrey for a winter reconnaissance of the North Downs Way. This long-distance footpath goes parallel to the South Downs way for 153 miles from Dover in Kent to Farnham in Surrey. The 10 mile stretch we did today was well signposted and maintained with steps on some of the steeper parts. The majority of the walk was through woods with most of the trees appearing to be beech and yew. The weather today was quite cold and we had a bit of snow up on Box Hill, but the walking was strenuous enough to keep us warm and toasty all day.
Lots of roving tit flocks around, as well as Treecreeper and Nuthatch. We also spotted a single Bullfinch, several Kestrels as well as a couple of Green Woodpeckers. As the sun set we could hear Tawny owls around us, so we sat and waited for one to appear. Nothing happened and we started to get cold so we headed for Gomshall station. Just before leaving the Downs at Abinger Hammer though, we got to see a short view of a Tawny as it flew off from its perch on an old dead tree.

The remains of Brockham Lime kiln at the start of the walk

Much of the path was like this. Very leafy Surrey.

Steep steps down through the yews

Denbie's huge vineyard near Dorking

A view of distant Leith Hill from White Down.

To cross the River Mole at Westhumble we had to go over the stepping stones. Great fun!

Some wartime graffiti on an old beech tree

Ranmore church is spectacular but a bit over the top for such a small, quiet village