Dorking to Haslemere

Dorking to Haslemere

Leith Hill

It's a substantial climb to Leith Hill. A stretch of 1 kilometre encompassing the Logmore Road junction averages over 9% climb and the high point, roughly where the redwood grove shown in the pictures below is, is 240m. You can climb to Leith Hill Tower. It was built in 1765 by Richard Hull, who called it Prospect House with the intention of providing a point above 1000 feet. The name is apt, for the top of the tower is the highest point in southern England at 1029 feet (329m - almost 200 foot higher than the Shard observation deck and a few meters higher than the top of the Shard) and offers a prospect that includes 14 counties. On a clear day you can see the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster in London.

LeithHill and the later Blackdown are noticeably wetter, due to their height, than the surrounding areas so you may need your waterproof when it's just cloudy elsewhere.
Bluebells by the climb to Leith Hill


Redwood Grove by Leith Hill

Redwood Grove by Leith Hill

The Weald


From the point where the vista in the following picture was taken you descend steeply but on a reasonably good road to the B2126. The small village of Forest Green (not to be confused with the vegan football club just promoted to Division 2 - they are in Gloucestershire) follows and the next few miles are characterised by quiet roads, small settlements and hedged fields.

Vista: West from Tamhurst

Allium by Okewood Church

Rudgwick is a large village with a distinguished 13th Century Church, a small Coop supermarket for topping u supplies and a long distance cycle path. The path uses an old railway line to form part of a largely off-road route from Guildford to Brighton. The route goes underneath our road at a bridge around 200m past the Coop. There are steps down on the right, far side of the bridge. An MTB is recommended. At the end of the village there's a small section of A road to navigate and then it is back to mainly quiet roads in countryside.
Door to Holy Trinity ChurchRudgwick


As you leave Loxwood, next to the Onslow Arms is a short length of the Wey & Arun Canal. It was a 23 mile canal that linked the Wey and Arun rivers joining London and the south coast. It was abandoned in 1871 and a restoration society has been working since 1970 to return it to working order and a few miles mostly around Loxwood are usable again.

Petworth


Again until just before Petworth you ride along quiet, rural roads. Petworth is a the southernmost point of the route and it's a control. Two A roads go through the narrow streets of a village and although neither is that busy, Petworth is heavily affected. To get to the control, the Hungry Guest Cafe you follow the one-way until you come to a square and on the top right hand side of the square there are no entry signs: the Hungry Gust is a few meters beyond. The alternative is to carry on out of the square and you soon come to a Coop. There are loos in the village car park. The trades of Petworth are tourism and antique selling. The tourist attraction being Petworth House. 
The Hungry Guest Coffee Shop

While it dominates Petworth, its high walls mean that little of Petworth House can be seen from the village. It holds a collection of major works of art, mainly collected or commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Egremont. Turner was a frequent visitor as he was sponsored by the Earl and he painted some of his best pictures here. The state rooms, with the art, which were never inhabited, and the old servants areas are open to the public. The present Lord and Lady Egremont still live in a private area.
Petworth House from the Lake by JMW Turner


Petworth Church: 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837)


A plaque lisitng Egremont family members is a  reminder that in past times wealth didn't stop infant deaths or deaths in childbirth
On leaving Petworth, turn right onto the A272. Petworth House is surrounded by a 700 acre deer park landscaped by Capability Brown. The best view en-route is to enter the grounds by New Lodges, the second of two park entrances on the A272. You can see the house, but not the lake, in the distance. It's free to wander the park. The author of this page did a lot of training for his London Marathon here.

View towards House from New Lodges

J.M.W. Turner, Petworth Park with Lord Egremont and his Dogs

In the village of Tillington turn right, with care, into what immediately becomes a steep hill. A handsome church and a fine view of the South Downs. The author would love to add a climb of them into the Struggle.



All Hallows, Tillington

View to the South Downs from Tillington
The next section is my favourite part of the ride. The road runs along the back wall of Petworth House, through the lovely villages of Tillington and Upperton, then through a mix of open- and woodland. It passes a folly on the way, imaginatively named the Monument. Opposite is an old walled garden almost completely hidden by vegetation.

The Monument .Probably a verderer's look- out originally. Late C18. (Verderers managed forests and land where deer lived)
Eventually you turn left on an unsigned road. It brings you to Lurgashall's quintessential Village Green.
Lurgashall Green

Blackdown


Following signs to Haslemere and Roundhurst you will start the climb up Black Down. Part way up is an info control.



Upper Roundhurst Farm. The Info control is opposite.

After the info control it is a steep climb to the heavily wooded top. While Black Down is lower than Leith Hill, the road is slightly higher. On a sharp bend you pass the entrance to Aldworth. This was the poet Tennyson's House. He built it in 1869 and died there 1892. It is in private hands.


Further on at the top of Haste Hill there is a road called Scotland Lane going left. The first building on the left is Whitwell Hatch, a hotel converted into luxury flats. It is the site of a telegraph station. In the 1820s the Navy built a line of these stations between the Admiralty in London and Portsnouth, using signals that look like old fashioned semaphore railway signals. This early information superhighway could, weather permitting, get a message from one end to another in fifteen minutes or so. It was replaced by the electric telegraph in 1847 once it was able to work over long distances. There is a surviving station now open to the public at Chatley Heath in Surrey.

Blackdown, a vista towards the north-east

We arrive at Haslemere. The riot commemorated by the plaque on the side of the town hall looking over the High Street (the ride passes behind) was a drunken bust-up with the navvies who were building the railway that got completely out of hand.


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