Box Hill

They had a very fine day for Box Hill … Nothing was wanting but to be happy when they got there. Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and every body had a burst of admiration on first arriving…

Jane Austen, Emma

Spring has well and truly arrived in the south of England and I can already feel the looming potential of summer’s swelter. The heating’s off, my electric blanket has been tidied away for another year, I’ve stopped wearing my winter coat. So when Mission Control got in touch to make a plan to meet up, we thought now would be an excellent time to get on a train and go for a walk.

South Londoners are luckier than north Londoners, because we’re so close to Surrey. Less than ten pounds and only 45 minutes away is one of the top ten places in the UK to have a picnic (according to The Daily Telegraph).

So I packed up a picnic, and got on the train to the delightfully named Box Hill and Westhumble station, with my walking shoes and leggings and a waterproof in my backpack.

Emma Woodhouse got very excited about a day trip to Box Hill with all her friends in Jane Austen’s Emma, and I was looking forward to the day too, the sunshine and the lambs and view across the North Downs.

The view hasn’t changed too much, apparently, but that’s probably about it – I’m fairly sure Austen wouldn’t have imagined Emma with a Starbucks latte and an Ordnance Survey map found on a Google search and printed off…

The hill itself was full of visitors, so MC and I wandered along, round the back and over Juniper Top for our picnic, which was much more peaceful, and a spot that didn’t have Dorking slap bang in the middle of the view.

And then we walked down into Mickleham for a lager and lime on a bench outside the village pub. MC and I talked and talked all the way round. And, in case you wondered, unlike Austen’s great friends Emma Woodhouse and Mr Knightley, we didn’t fall out with each other at the end of the day!

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