17 Apr 19 – 6 miles
The valley below Ranmore Common/Denbies Hillside
Early Morning Spring Walks
Around Dorking, the winter fog still clings to the hills and valleys on morning walks in springtime. The sun fights against the early morning chill as the cold of Winter fails to recognise the inevitable warmth and lengthening hours of light. Day after day, Winter’s grip of the North Downs is loosened as spring slowly sets the stage for Summer. Every evening, however, Winter returns with the belief that she can hold onto the Surrey Hills and keep it in continual slumber. Neither is willing to surrender and this dance of opposing forces makes for breathtaking views and a unique, ever changing walk experience.
Pilgrims Way Trackway
When I first moved to Dorking in the summer of 2016, I was amazed by the sheer amount of green in Surrey. Every break in the trees took my breath away. The hills and valleys were carpeted in jade and emerald. I would wish for clear days so I could see more and more brilliance in the distance. Spring changed that for me. The misty, foggy mornings in spring highlight the layers in the hills, creating distinction between each distant hillside. The depth of the landscape is only clear through the haze.
Denbies Hillside looking toward Dorking
While the brighter greens of spring are still to come, the hardier grasses and evergreens are strengthened by somber browns and greys of old growth and bare trunks. Birches tipped with pale green provide hope for the English Oaks who are reluctant to show themselves. The staggered bursts of colour in spring make each walk exciting. The lack of foliage also allows the determined spring light to find the forest floor so the Daffodils and Bluebells can have their time in the sun.
Path up to Ranmore/Denbies Hillside from Pilgrims Way Trackway
Although I’ve walked these trails many times, they continue to surprise me with their depth of character. No two walks I’ve taken have provided me with the same exact views. The movement of the sun, change in weather, and continual growth constantly change the way the land looks and feels. In springtime, the landscape changes, seemingly, by the minute. “How can you go on the same walk over and over and not get bored?” I’ve yet to take the same walk twice.
Pilgrims Way Trackway, looking east, north west of Westcott
The British belief in the public’s right of way can be surprising to an American, but it is by far my favourite aspect of living here. These views and experiences are not kept for the few, but are meant to be celebrated by anyone willing to put one foot in front of the other.
The Nower, looking east
See you out in the hills!