History and Heritage - Geography

Leatherhead, Bookham, Fetcham and Ashtead are spring line settlements located where the London clays meet the chalk of the North Downs. To the south are the rolling hills of Mickleham Downs, Box Hill and Ranmore Common, a patchwork of woodland and open grassland. To the north are the heavy ancient woodlands of Bookham Common and Ashtead Common, long established on the heavy clay soils and are of great importance as wildlife habitats.

The geology of the area is quite complex. From north to south there are bands of London clay, chalk, Greensand, and Wealden clay creating some of the most dramatic landscapes in the south east of England. The Surrey Hills, on the edge of Leatherhead, were much loved by the advocates of the 'Picturesque' movement, poets and writers in the 19th century. They have long been a Mecca for visitors from London seeking fresh air and beautiful landscape close to the capital.

Leatherhead lies at the northern end of the Mole Gap, a broad valley through which the River Mole meanders on its way to the River Thames. The landscape of the river, including the section that runs close to the commercial heart of the town, is one of the most attractive features of Leatherhead. It acts as a link between the town and its dramatic hinterland of Box Hill and Leith Hill.

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A leaflet is available from the Leatherhead Help Shop guiding walkers along the banks of the river from Thorncroft in the south to Common Meadow in the north.