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Things to do in Leith Hill, Surrey

Leith Hill is not a town but a hill, the highest in the South East of England.

View from the top of Leith Hill. © Tina Facey
View from the top of Leith Hill © Tina Facey

On its shoulder perches the attractive little village of Coldharbour, which has a pub, and at its foot sits Leith Hill Place, a country house whose grounds are open to the public.

Vaughan Williams

This house was the childhood home of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who became one of England's greatest composers.

His name is forever associated with the annual Leith Hill Festival, which he conducted from 1905 to 1953, and which continues to this day in Dorking.

Gothic Tower

On the top of Leith Hill is a substantial Gothic tower, built in 1765 on the orders of Richard Hull, then the resident of Leith Hill Place.

Tower at the top of Leith Hill © Tina Facey
Tower at the top of Leith Hill © Tina Facey

It annoyed him that his local hill, at 965 feet, just failed to reach a nice round 1000 feet, so he put up this folly 64 feet high on the top, with a "prospect glass" or telescope on its roof 1029 feet above sea level.

Excellent views can be enjoyed from this roof, now open to the public.

13 Counties

On a very clear day, you can see 13 counties, and it is claimed that looking due East the next ground of equal height is in the Ural mountains in Russia.

There is now a refreshment kiosk on the ground floor of the tower.

The hill itself is part of the Greensand Ridge, and is a popular objective for ramblers.

A long-distance path, the Greensand Way, passes over its summit, which can also be reached by a gentle uphill stroll from a convenient car park.

Like most of the Surrey Hills, Leith Hill is mainly wooded, though the route to the top from Coldharbour also gives excellent views.

Description by Jeffrey Darlington

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