30km South of London nestled in the vibrant student hub of Surrey, Box Hill is one of South England‘s most popular lookout points, famed for its sweeping panoramas. A popular picnic spot since Victorian times, Box Hill cemented its tourist itinerary status when it hosted the cycling portion of the 2012 London Olympics.
The peak is one of the most famous in the North Downs, the chalk hill ridge that runs from Surrey down to the White Cliffs of Dover. Part of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Box hill is managed by the National Trust and reaches a height of 224 meters at its Betchworth Clumps summit. The most popular spot, however, is the Salomon’s memorial, a majestic lookout point with views spanning a 40km radius on a clear day.
It’s not just the views that are impressive – the area is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, home to a vast population of rare flowers and wildlife. Keep an eye out for the colourful Adonis Blue butterfly, the Bee Orchid and the park’s namesake, the Box tree. A number of historic monuments are also dotted around the hill including the 19th century Box Hill Fort, a flint tower known as Broadwood’s Folly and a series of 19th century Stepping Stones at the foot of the hill.
The best way to take in the hill’s diverse nature is walking or cycling, and there are a number of popular trails. Most renowned is the 12.8km Zig Zag Road, which formed part of the Olympic route and traces a steep loop around the hill, including the notorious Butterfly bend, a hair-raisingly sharp turn, named after the butterfly nesting area nearby.