In my desperate attempt to catch up with all the blog posts I have missed, this is a lovely place we discovered a few weeks ago, another jewel of Surrey.
Wordpress doesn’t to it justice, but the panorama here is gorgeous.
London is 25 miles away (40 km), yet when the weather is clear, you can admire the skyline, with its most famous elements like the BT tower, the London Eye (big wheel) or St Paul’s Cathedral!
Looking South, you can clearly see Gatwick Airport and its queues of planes circling in the sky, the chalk hills of the South Downs, and with a little imagination, even the English Channel. It’s certainly not the Alps, but the view is pretty good : on the sunniest days, you can see 13 counties at once!
These pictures were taken on the highest point of South-East England, in Surrey, called Leith Hill (altitude : 329 m).
Now a National Trust Property, the site is famous for its tower, which offers breathtaking views over the South-East. The tower was built in 1765, and climbing its narrow and dark stairs (74 steps!) proves challenging….but the views at the top are just too rewarding
The place is linked to one of the most famous English scientists…Charles Darwin!
Leith Hill Place, a massive property dating back to the 17th century, was a property of Darwin’s sister. He often visited her, and started conducting an experiment on earthworms : he decided to study the movement of a large stone, and noticed that the stone slowly sank into the ground by the action of earthworms…
The trails through the estate show a variety of landscapes, from glorious heathland…
…to mysterious ponds…
or young woodland!
Plant-wise, a few interesting encounters : Succisa pratensis, the Devil’s-bit Scabious and Gnaphalium uliginosum, the Marsh Cudweed, two wet soil loving wildflowers.
Overall, it’s a fantastic Sunday walk, with stunning views and plenty of things to do….and many more not mentioned here.
The Rhododendron walk, next to Leith Hill Place, was created by Darwin’s sister in the 19th century. It is thought to contain some of the first rhododendrons introduced to the UK, and despite many losses due to the Great Storm in 1987, the walk is still famous for the colourful views it offers. I have just found a good reason to return in Spring!
EDIT : I just read that Leith Hill has been named by the Independent as the second best “leafy walk” in the UK. I can understand why!
The Independent – Best Leafy walks