Friday, 2 January 2015

Leith Hill - Surrey Historic County Top & Holmbury Hill

Walk Summary
Ewhurst windmill from north side
First walk of this trip and being 02 January first walk of the year. The objective was to progress a joint peak bagging mission with Gina to visit every Historic County Top in England & Wales by visiting Leith Hill in Surrey. Number 12 out of 63.
Weather wise absolutely perfect with clear blue skies, crystal clear lighting conditions and just a slight nip in the air to stop us from over heating.
Leith Hill is more famous for it's tower built nearly 250 years ago by Richard Hull to raise the height of the hill to over 1000'. With the tower standing 64' high and the highest point at 968' nearby this was easily achieved, however as every peak bagger worth his salt knows; man made structures don't count, so we did not even bother to climb the stairs to the top.
Rather than just a car ride to Leith Hill car park it seemed a good opportunity to visit a couple of the new (to me) TuMPs as well as an additional HuMP at Holmbury Hill. Leith Hill being a Marilyn and therefore a HuMP gave the walk a very respectable 607m of overall ascent.
Bit of a lesson though, because we spent so much time faffing about trying to get access to The Warren and failing because it was on private land, nearly did not leave enough time to get to Leith Hill and Holmbury Hill before it got dark. We did actually manage it and the reward was a beautiful sunset on Holmbury Hill.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 02 January 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith

Accommodation - Gatwick Caravan Club Site
Start Point - Coverwood car park (GR - TQ 09863 43158)
Start Time - 11:20

Finish Point Coverwood car park (GR - TQ 09863 43158
Finish Time - 16:44
Duration - 5hrs 24mins
Average pace - 2.00mph
Distance Walked - 10.80 miles
Height Ascended - 606.61metres

Other walks on this trip
02nd Leith Hill - Surrey Historic County Top
03rd Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex Historic County Top
05th Black Down, West Sussex Historic County Top
06th Betsoms Hill, Kent Historic County Top

Peaks visited
Nuttalls (254E - 444E&W)
Hewitts (138E - 317E)
Marilyns (158E - 1550E,W&S)
Leith Hill (59E - 113E,W&S)
Deweys (241E - 427EW&S)
HuMPs (364W - 2977EW&S)
Leith Hill (105E - 176E,W&S)
Holmbry Hill (106E - 177E,W&S)
Historic County Top (49E - 63E&W 94E,W&S)
Leith Hill (25E - 29E&W -31E,W&S)
E: England. 
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland

Walks Description
Pitch Hill & The Warren

Time for a rest Gina? Not quite but such a lovely day
(almost Spring like) to enjoy view from Pitch Hill summit area
Setting off for the Radnor Road car park entrance expecting Gina to follow, looking back saw she was waiting near the van wondering why we were not going in the opposite direction, like everyone else. Early on in the walk we met a guy heading in the opposite direction asking for directions to Holmbury Hill. "Where are you going?" he asks. "Leith Hill" I say. He looked a bit perplexed as we were heading in the opposite direction. All suddenly became clear to Gina the walk objective had a hidden agenda. She has signed up to visit all of the County Tops in England & Wales, but I like to make it a decent walk and day out to cover at least 8 - 10 miles and on a beautiful day such as today, why not? Pitch Hill was easy enough to find behind The Duke of Kent School with the reward of fine views and a trig point to log as well.
The Warren was a different proposition. On the map it looked like it may be on private property. On the ground that became obvious with the tracks marked on the map blocked by high iron electronic gates. So frustrating and difficult to explain to Gina why we had walked all this way, but at least it did not get a "Is this it" quote.

Leith Hill
Leith Hill Tower.
County Top is on mound with seat
We were now about as far away from Leith Hill as we would be all day and with making a late start looked like we may run out of daylight before we got anywhere near Leith Hill the main objective of the day. Starting to regret trying to get in the extra couple of hills at the beginning I resolved not to do this again. (I know I will though) and both turned on our heals at a fair old pace heading north up Barhatch Road. A little further difficulty finding the track heading east to Radnor Road from Gassons Farm used up further energy and time resulting in a lowering of spirits. However after a quick lunch in the weak sunshine was able to continue at a good pace and get to Leith Hill just after 3pm. Quite busy for a Friday but I guess it is the last day of the Xmas break before returning to work on Monday. For that reason the coffee shop was open at the bottom of the tower where we were able to get the promised hot drink Gina would like at the top of many summits we climb together.

Holmbury Hill

Into the moon light towards Leith Hill from Holmbury Hill
By the time we had finished our hot drink the sun was setting fast providing excellent silhouettes to be photographed against orange skies. Fortunately we were not far from the van but unfortunately there was Holmbury Hill in between and as a HuMP meant we had at least 100m of ascent in the *.** miles between here and the van. The cool orange disc of the setting sun made its last appearance as we approached Uplands farm and just before the ascent up Holmbury Hill. Quite a steep climb after a long day but we soon managed it and joined the Vanguard Way which we followed to Holmbury Hill as the final daylight was replaced by the glow of the moon. Still managed a few photos before setting off for the van less than ½ mile away. That is why the people in the car park were heading in the opposite direction to us. Maybe we should have done the same?

More Photographs
Leith Hill Tower to the south
Click on photograph to view slide-show