Cycling the Surrey Hills: cycle routes, café tips + more! Back to top

Cycling the Surrey Hills:
Q&A with
Head for the Hills, Dorking

The Surrey Hills, south of London, are a cycling mecca, particularly for those living in the city and looking to escape! 

Head for the Hills is our local bike shop. It's small, independent and based in Dorking, in the heart of the Surrey Hills. We've used them for years and always received a friendly, prompt service.

We know the Surrey Hills like the back of our hand, but it's always good to get a fresh perspective so, in celebration of Local Bike Shop Day, we thought we'd catch up with Dan, the owner of Head for the Hills and ask him about his favourite Surrey Hills cycle routes and his top tips for riding in the area.

Map of the Surrey Hills showing Head for the Hills, Dorking and four well-known climbs

Part 1: Riding in the Surrey Hills

1. Where are you based and what's it like?

We're based in Dorking in the Surrey Hills.

The Surrey Hills provide some really challenging, interesting and beautiful riding. They may not have the elevation of some parts of the UK, but don't underestimate them! Think short, sharp climbs and descents, with lots of twisty, turny back lanes through chocolate box villages.

2. What's the most famous Surrey Hills cycle route? 

Undoubtedly Box Hill, made famous by its starring role in the London 2012
Olympics road race, and now apparently one of the most Stravaed sections in
the world! It also has a big part to play in the annual RideLondon that passes through Dorking and over Box Hill and nearby Leith Hill too.

You can find out more about RideLondon in our guide, here.

Box Hill is a pretty straightforward 2km / 5% climb, and most locals would
argue it's one of the easier climbs in the area. If you just ride out to Dorking, loop
around Box Hill, and head home again, you’ve missed the best bits of the
area for sure.

Box Hill cycling route, Dorking Surrey

View south over Dorking and the countryside from Box Hill

Cyclist at top of Box Hill, Surrey Hills

View from the road at Box Hill

3. What's your favourite route in the surrey hills? 

I love the narrow, twisty back lanes. They’re very pretty to ride, and lots of fun

Weare Street from Ockley and Shophouse Lane from Farley Green are
two of my favourites, great in either direction. As a complete route, the annual
Legs of Steel sportive captures the area perfectly.

You can find our favourite Surrey Hills rides, here.

4. What are your best tips for someone cycling in the area for the first time?

Firstly, don’t underestimate it. Our hills are small, but they’re steep and there
are a lot of them.

Secondly, turn off your Garmin and Strava, and make sure to take in the lanes and the scenery, it’s a really important part of the Surrey Hills experience.

Chocolate box villages you pass when cycling in Surrey

Lanes through pretty villages

Denbies Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey, UK

Autumn colours are fantastic in the wooded lanes of Surrey

5. Are there any really good café stops in your area?

As I start and finish my rides in Dorking, then Dorking Deli on West Street is great for
an end of ride stop (delicious breakfasts), or Peaslake Village Stores for a mid-
stop ride – their cheese straws are legendary.

6. Is there anything that we shouldn't miss? ​

If you want to make sure you’ve ridden the biggest challenges in the area then
add Barhatch Lane and White Down into your route.

Check out this ride guide if you want full details! This is what the map/profile looks like:

Or, if you’re looking for something particularly masochistic then try the infamous Leith Hill Octopus!

7. What's the best village/town/city for us to stay in to explore the area?

Dorking is the hub of it all, with hills in pretty much every direction, lots of
great pubs and cafes, a giant cockerel statue, and an awesome bike shop too
– what’s not to love about it?

Our guide to the Surrey Hills has lots of info on Dorking and places to stay.

8. What's the best time of year to visit?

With lots of riding through woodland, then Spring is a particularly pretty time of
year when the bluebells are out, as well as Autumn, when the beech leaves
are turning.

Part 2: Your shop

9. Why should people visit your shop? ​

The workshop is the heart of our shop, so whether you need a quick tune-up
or a full service, we’re here for you.

With the area being such a popular riding spot, we also do a lot of mid-ride emergency repairs. We’ll always try to keep people pedalling if we can.

We also know bike shops can sometimes feel intimidating, so we pride ourselves on being friendly and approachable. We all live and ride locally, so we’re always happy to give advice to anyone visiting the area.

Exterior of Head for the Hills in Surrey
Interior of Head for the Hills, Dorking, Surrey

10. Where can people find you? ​

43-44 West Street, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1BU

01306 885007 /

Opening Times: Monday - Saturday: 9am-6pm / Sunday: closed

Parking: There is a small pay and display car park on West Street just past
our shop, or if you combine a visit to us with your Waitrose shop, you get two
hours free parking in their car park.

Big thanks to Dan from Head for the Hills for sharing his insights on riding in the Surrey Hills!

Want more uk cycling destinations?

Take a look at our in-depth guides to cycling in the Surrey Hills and the Isle of Wight!

Tough climbs of the Surrey Hills:
cycling Box Hill, Leith Hill and friends
Pit yourself against this testing route that will see you cycling Box Hill, plus lesser-known and more testing climbs, including Barhatch Lane, Greensand Lane and White Down.
Cycling the lost lanes of Surrey and Sussex: Lurgashall loop
Cycling in Surrey and West Sussex can be bliss; read on to discover the rural lanes and roads that will help you find another side to this busy corner of the world.
Ride to the beach:
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This 125km+ ride sees you cycling to Brighton from Dorking and taking in superb views and a tough climb over Ditchling Beacon.
Highlights of the Kent and East Sussex hills by bike
Your insider's guide to one of our favourite rides from Dorking, taking you over some of the best (and steepest!) climbs in Kent and East Sussex.
Country lanes of the Surrey Hills loop
A great introductory loop to the Surrey Hills along winding country lanes. Read on to find out what to expect.
How hard is the Prudential RideLondon 100 route?
(A sneak peak at three of the toughest hills)
Our in-depth analysis of the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 route
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