North Downs Way 4 : Merstham to Oxted
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This walk takes in the final Surrey part of the North Downs Way. This is one of the more challenging sections. There are several climbs up and down the North Downs ridge. You are however rewarded by spectacular scenery including expansive views with the M25 in the distance as it carves its way through the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also views over to the London skyline.
The walk begins with a stroll down Quality Street which could be said to be the heart of old Merstham. At one time it was the main road (a turnpike) through Merstham but is now a cul de sac. Its importance can be seen from the many fine houses in it, some dating back to the 16th century.
The whole area has long been known for its quarries, with the first mines at Merstham recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and ‘Reigate stone’ quarried there was used to build parts of Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and locally St Katherine’s Church. It was to serve the quarries that the village became the terminus of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway, an extension of the horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway of 1803, the world’s first public railway, albeit only for goods.
Apart from being an interesting churchyard to explore, St Katherine’s also makes a nice mid-morning break point – especially for those who have travelled some distance to commence this section of the NDW route. Further along you will come to Caterham Viewpoint which is a popular local beauty spot and a good place to aim for if you are having a picnic lunch. Alternatively, you may decide to go a short distance (150m) off route to enjoy the food and drink at The Harrow pub just before Route Instruction Six.