I get an idea in my mind and it’ll keep playing with me until I make it happen – introducing a trail running adventure along the River Mole between Leatherhead and Dorking on the Mole Gap Trail on Sunday morning. I can’t remember where the idea of this first came about – maybe some Instagram stalking or running group FOMO (fear of missing out) – but after discovering the area around Leatherhead on my 30th birthday 30 mile run and many adventures around Boxhill, I knew I had to explore this well trodden trail.
Before most of the city woke on Sunday, I jumped on a train in Wimbledon and after just a 25 minute journey I arrived in Leatherhead, ready to run. With directions downloaded from the Surrey Life website, I followed the signs to the town centre, found the Running Horse pub (very aptly named) and crossed the bridge to follow the River Mole to Norbury Park. The trail is marked with silver arrows and treasure hunt-like notes to guide you on your way and looking around to spot the next glint of silver really added to the sense of adventure and fun of discovering a new trail. It meandered around the natural curves of the river, staying close to the line of the railway track towards Dorking, but was definitely not flat with interesting and sometimes unexpected gradients as an added challenge.
The path leads you through many a kissing gate, over the river back and forth, through farmland, perfectly placed picnic spots and benches and out into open meadows with the feeling of space and a closeness to nature. After 6km I found myself at a familiar spot near Boxhill and Westhumble station, where my desire to climb Boxhill was too strong and I took a detour from the trail to cross the Stepping Stones and follow my nose to the top for an incredible view of the Surrey Hills and beyond.
To complete the trail in its entirety, resist the urge to climb Boxhill, cross over Chapel Lane and onto the Pilgrims Way. The trail continues then crosses the North Downs Way and keeping straight ahead brings you into the vineyards of Denbies Wine Estate and into Dorking at the railway station, the end point of the route.
After 10km/6 miles you can retrace your steps or detour back towards Leatherhead on the many trails, or jump on the train at Dorking to head back to London. Although a well marked and trodden path, I had the trail mostly to myself on Sunday morning – a stark contrast from the herds of keen cyclists on top of Boxhill – so it’s a great one to enjoy solo for a bit of peace and quiet. As I described there are also many additions or regressions to the trail to either extend or shorten it, making it ideal for groups of walkers or runners of different abilities and preferences.
Will you be following the shiny silver arrows on an adventure soon? I hope so! It sparked so many great memories of childhood treasure hunts and games of hide and seek, only I’m now 30 years old, but can still enjoy the thrill of it all!