There are so many different areas under the Surrey Hills umbrella and terms that people use to describe different areas, so this page tries to help people understand how everything fits together as it can get quite confusing!

The Surrey Hills are not like a typical trail centre:

Compared to the dedicated trail centres that have opened up around Britain, the Surrey Hills have a number of differences you need to understand when visiting to go mountain biking:

  • There is only one waymarked trail (Summer Lightning) so you either need to come with someone who knows their way around (try a shop or guided ride), be prepared to explore for yourself, or come armed with maps/gpx routes to follow and be able to navigate back to where you parked!
  • There’s no visitor centre with facilities or any single point of access. You can join routes from a large number of places. You’ll need to plan and navigate your way to somewhere for refreshments or bring your own.

There are a couple of local(ish) bike parks where you can go to get your fix of that type of riding.

For people visiting the area for the first time, this leads to a lot of confusion about where the best places are to ride, location of the famous trails etc. Indeed, the sheer size of the area and number of possible routes can be quite overwhelming and off-putting. Visit our Surrey Hills mountain bike trails page for a run down on the main mountain biking areas and official trails and our Peaslake mountain biking page for information about the village that is a popular base for mountain bikers.

The Areas

The Surrey Hills

The Surrey Hills is one of 46 designated National Landscapes (previously known as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) prior to 22 Nov 2023) in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.

Natural England is the body with the power to designate National Landscapes in England under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW) based on a number of criteria.

Originally designated as an ANOB in 1958, the Surrey Hills covers a quarter of the county of Surrey which, depsite being one of the most urbaised counties in England, is itself 84% countryside.

The ANOB stretches from Frensham in the west to Oxsted in the east and from Mickleham in the north to Haslemere in the south taking in a variety of landscapes.

The Surrey Hills AONB is managed by the Surrey Hills Board.

The North Downs

To the north, the main feature of the Surrey Hills is the North Downs, a ridge of chalk hills running from Farnham in the west along the Hog’s Back to Guildford, taking in St Martha’s, Newlands corner, across to Ranmore, Denbies, Box Hill near Dorking and onwards to Kent ending in Dover.

The North Downs Way is a National Trail running the entire length from Farnham to Dover with a total of 153 miles of trail. However, it is predominantly for walkers as not all of it is accessible to bikers due to being a mixture of footpaths (boo), bridleways (31 miles), BOATs (21 miles) and roads (30 miles).

The Greensand Ridge

Sometimes referred to incorrectly under the broad umbrella of the North Downs, the Greensand Ridge is a range of sandstone hills running roughly parallel to, and south of, the North Downs from the Devil’s Punchbowl in the west, to Hascombe and then across the four mountain biking gems of Winterfold, Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill and Leith Hill. The Greensand Ridge is not a commonly used term – the constituent hills and areas are usually referred to by their individual names.

The Greensand Way runs from Haslemere in the south west to Oxted in the east. Again, the entire route is not suitable for mountain biking as it includes footpaths.

The Hurtwood

The Hurtwood is an important sub-section of the Surrey Hills and the Greensand Ridge as, not only does it cover some of the best mountain biking, including Pitch Hill, Holmbury Hill and parts of Winterfold, there is also the “right to roam” on the Hurtwood. This means that mountain bikers are not restricted to just bridleways and BOATs but can also ride footpaths and any other existing trails (hurrah!).

The Hurtwood is managed on behalf of the constituent landowners by the Friends of the Hurtwood.