Summer is back in London and that means it’s time to start getting outdoors again. One of my favorite summer activities in the UK is doing small weekend hikes. The weather usually doesn’t get too hot and it’s a fun way to explore a little outside the big city.
The Mole Gap Trail is a 10-mile walk that follows the River Mole through some pretty stunning UK countryside and villages. What’s the best part? Besides being able to pop into a pub at the end of your hike, you’ll also find one of the UK’s largest vineyards along your walk! Wine and hikes? Who could say no to that!
Where to start
You’ll start your hike in Leatherhead, but it’s useful to note that this isn’t a circular hike, so you’ll need to buy return tickets from Dorking. There’s direct trains leaving from both Waterloo and Victoria pretty frequently and the ride is only around 45 minutes. The train is small and kind of quaint and tends to be empty, so it’s a very enjoyable ride!
Beginning the walk
Once you reach Leatherhead, exit the station and take a right. This is where the fun begins! You should find a park at the end of the block and you’ll want to cross the park, angling left. You should see a sort of sculpture/work of art directly in your path. It looks like this:
At the foot of the sculpture is your first silver arrow! These dot the town, pointing you in the direction you should be going in order to hit the Mole Gap Trail. Some of these are a bit hard to find, but it was a lot of fun searching for them as it made me feel like I was on a scavenger hunt!
Things to know
Like I said, keep an eye out for silver arrows in odd places. They might be on the ground, or on a wall, partially hidden by plants. Once you get onto the trail, the arrows will stop and it’s pretty much a straight shot from there. The Mole Gap Trail is very easy to do, so it’s perfect for beginners. Make sure to wear lots of sunscreen as there are some long swaths of the walk where there isn’t any shade.
You’ll also reach a point in the hike where the trail breaks off to the right into a woody area, or goes left past some farms and horse corrals. We went left as that was the direction towards the pub we wanted to visit. It was also a shorter walk to Dorking.
Once you get nearer to Dorking you should make a detour to The Running Horses pub. It’s a popular place, but it serves great food (both vegetarian and non), and has a varied selection of local beers on tap. It’s also a relaxing joint for getting out of the sun and celebrating the near-completion of your hike!
If you continue down the road a little past The Running Horses, you should find the entrance to Denbies Wine Estate. Entry is free, so go ahead and wander in past the rows of grapevines and inside-where you can sample and buy some local wine. Denbies is famous for its white wine as, an employee explained to me, the local weather isn’t good for red. You’re pretty close to Dorking station at this point, so go ahead and buy a bottle before continuing on your way!
Finishing the trail
The entire trail took us roughly 5 hours to complete, but we had to backtrack quite a bit at the start because we kept missing the silver arrows. Hopefully my photos will make it a little easier for you to find them so you don’t lose time! We also spent time at the wine estate and pub, and a little time walking around Leatherhead, so all in all our timing wasn’t bad. It’s a beautiful part of the country and definitely worth exploring!
Have you hiked any fun or easy trails near London lately? Share which ones you liked most!