August 22, 2022: Surry Hills, England. Dorking was not what you’d expect. Just outside London, it had vineyards, pastures, park and pond. And no chickens.
“Does anyone know where Dorking is?“
― Frank Rothwell
No, Dorking is not a strange new British euphemism or vulgarity. Rather, it is a charming town in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), about 30 miles south of London, just outside the M25 loop. The town claims three fames: the pretty Surrey Hills of course, the Denbies Wine Estate…. and chickens.
Hills and Wine
Jean and I did a nice circular through the Surry Hills at Box Hill, with the best views as we finished. After, we stopped across the road at Denbies, the largest winery in the UK.
Wine in the UK, you ask? With global warming, England can now support quality vines. If in doubt, follow the money… premiere French Champagne producers Moët & Chandon and Taittinger have started large vineyards here in anticipation of the climate shift.
Dorking’s real claim to fame, though, is the five-toed chicken breed named after the town. The bird was originally brought to Britain by the Romans, and was famous for its hardy nature and excellent meat. Unfortunately, we found no Dorkings on menu or in yard during our stay.
I found a nice route from our stay at White Horse Hotel (recommended) up through Denbies’ vineyards and looping back via public footpath to the city park, then through some back-lanes in town. It was, as always, a beautiful way to start the day.