Another Spotlight entry for you guys this week, this time focusing on The Hurtwood and Pitch Hill, right in the heart of the Surrey Hills’ “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” – one of many throughout this green and pleasant land, and certainly one of the most beautiful. The trail centres, of course, around a hill. It’s not too tough a climb, but I must give fair warning that it is only suitable for Mountain Bikes. Anyone who’s already been will know that traversing the car park is an exercise in itself – gully-like potholes and hard, chunky gravel await any daring biker that dare attempt a crossing!
Any history buffs reading? At the top of Pitch Hill are the foundations of an ancient Iron-age fort. No stoneware or any real building work remain but, much like the dikes of the Netherlands, the raised foundations of what would have been the walls of the settlement make for a great ride and give way to a fantastic view. Just a few miles along the Surrey Hills line from Leith Hill, Pitch Hill boasts that very same gorgeous view, stretching, a wash of green, from East to West – chimneys smoke from small village pubs, the train line runs along the bottom of the hillside as wave after wave of wooded hills reach all the way down to the sea and the horizon beyond. If you are local and can get up there at the “golden hour,” just before sunset, the rewards are unmatched.
Sitting a relatively short distance from the car park, you may actually crest the hill relatively early on in your journey. After that comes the tranquil beauty of The Hurtwood - improperly named, as it is no hurt whatsoever to roll through there. Described by AllTrails as “moderate” in difficulty, this almost-six-kilometre circular trail takes you through open fields of heather and through wooded forest. Pine trees tower over you and the heather hugs close to the pathways, making navigation an occasionally prickly affair. The larger paths, however, are well-sanded and generally stay dry, regardless of the weather, while the smaller “off-road” ones provide rough, rocky turf and exciting twists and turns to get your wheels spinning and skidding. Fauna, as well as flora, are present, with a smattering of deer found throughout the forest. They are shy, but stunningly elegant of you do catch sight of one. Be advised, also, that there are horses on the main tracks, often easily spooked. Lovely to admire from a distance (just don’t drive too close behind them or you might eat a Shawn Michaels style superkick).
If you’re in the mood for something moderately challenging and absolutely charming, with diverse scenery and terrain, look no further than The Hurtwood and, above, Pitch Hill. Infinitely beautiful countryside and fun trails await you, if you’re along for the ride.