River Mole

Myth has it that the River Mole is so named because it flows underground for part of its journey through Sussex and Surrey.

About the river

Rising south west of Crawley, the River Mole flows northwards towards the Thames. In its upper reaches, it has an extensive network of tributaries including the Gatwick Stream, the Stanford Brook and the Burstow Stream.

As it flows downstream, it passes through the historic Norbury Park before flowing through Leatherhead and eventually joining the Thames at Molesey, opposite Hampton Court Palace.

There are a variety of designated sites for wildlife present across the Mole Catchment including Norbury Park, Nutfield Marsh and Surrey Hills AONB. The River Mole contributes significantly to the ecological and landscape value of these sites.

The South East Rivers Trust co-hosts the catchment partnership for the Mole with the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Click here for the latest river management plans on our Storymap, outlining the work of the catchment partnership.

What makes it special?

The Mole is famous for its spectacular river cliffs near Box Hill that have formed over thousands of years and receive many visitors. It is also famous for its swallow holes where the river, at times of low flow, disappears underground before emerging further downstream. These swallow holes have long excited the curiosity of travellers and poets through the ages.

The poet Edmund Spencer wrote:
“Mole that like a Mousling mole doth make His way still underground, till the Thames he overtake”

The Mole is an important recreational resource and is used for angling, kayaking and walking. The Mole Gap walking trail is a particularly popular route starting at Leatherhead and following the route of the Mole for 10 km finishing at Dorking.


  • fisheries
  • habitat
  • flooding
  • pollution

How Healthy is the Mole?

Co-hosted by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and the South East Rivers Trust, the Mole Catchment Partnership is made up of organisations that have an interest in the health of the River Mole and the many benefits of having an environment rich in biodiversity and recreational opportunities. To find out more about the health of the River Mole, please visit the dedicated catchment partnership website.

Click to find out more

Latest Mole Events

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