|Colley Hill Pavilion|
One of the things I have always found surprising about the North Downs versus its southern equivalent is the number of houses that are built on the crest of the hill. There are a number along this stretch of the North Downs. I guess they take advantage of the sunny aspect and the fact that they are never likely to have anything else built in the way. For a walker though it is a little dispiriting as for quite long stretches all you get to see is back fences and parts of buildings (most of them are quite protective of their privacy as well).
Having negotiated this last house we took the path down the steep slope almost to the very bottom. We had to watch our step as it was pretty slick. At the bottom we took a sharp left an took the parallel path along the foot of the scarp slope. For the most part this was through woods as well and views outwards were at a premium even with all the leaves gone from the trees. We did get the odd view up the slope and this demonstrated what a steep climb it was likely to be at the other end of the walk.
At the bottom of Colley Hill we passed by the remains of Hearthstone Mine. Hearthstone was a form of greensand that was very popular as a cleaning product back in Victorian times. The mine was unusual in that it also had a processing works on site as well although you would be very hard pressed to find much evidence of it now other than a few earthworks. Some of the buildings were destroyed by a V1 Doodlebug bomb in World War II. The mine limped on after the war for a time but succumbed to the inevitable closure in 1961. The mine entrance was then filled in by explosion.
Our onward route was pretty mucky in places and a couple of times we had to take avoiding action to miss the worst of the mud. Eventually we reached the bottom of Reigate Hill on the A217. Just as we thought we might have to walk alongside the road an almost hidden path on the left took us up the hill away from the road. This was definitely a sting in the tail but all the way up I think the thought of the hot drink and bacon roll from the refreshment kiosk kept us going.
At the very top of the hill we were reunited with the North Downs Way and retraced our steps the short distance past the old fort once again to cross the main road and find the car park. We had an enjoyable snack and drink and savoured the view across Reigate and beyond satisfied with our first outing of the year. This isn't a difficult walk but a perfect winter outing when energy levels are generally low.