50 fabulous summer days out in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 17:16 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 17:16 31 July 2017
From lazy days drifting down the River Thames in a hot tub to stand-up paddleboarding in a disused quarry via outdoor theatre, cinema and music festivals, we dare you to get bored in Surrey this summer!
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2017
Share your summer in Surrey photography at www.surreylife.co.uk/photos
1. Deepdene Trail: Offering the opportunity to rediscover one of Britain’s great lost gardens, as well as explore through the countryside to Brockham, the Deepdene Trail is found just outside Dorking town centre. More at deepdenetrail.co.uk
2. Downs Link: Starting at St Martha’s Hill, high above Chilworth, the Downs Link is a 37 mile route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way. It finishes way down in Shoreham-by-Sea, where you can relax with a cooling dip.
3. Inspiring Views: Capturing the spirit of five outstanding views across the Surrey Hills, each in the form of a seated sculpture, can you ‘collect’ all five of the Inspiring Views project artworks?
4. Lovelace Bridges: Hidden deep in the woods near East Horsley is a series of 10 tunnels known as the Lovelace Bridges that have intrigued passers¬by for years. You can download a map at exploringsurreyspast.org.uk. This is a proper slice of Secret Surrey, so only for the intrepid explorer.
5. North Downs Way: Following the scarp of the North Downs, the North Downs Way parallels the route of the ancient Pilgrims’ Way, running from Winchester in Hampshire, right the way through Surrey, ending up at Canterbury in Kent.
PERFECT PICNIC SPOTS…
6. Abinger Hammer: There are few more idyllic summer sights than watching families gather around the Abinger Hammer village stream with a picnic.
7. Devil’s Punch Bowl: As captured by July’s Surrey Life cover shot by Philip Traill, you don’t have to go far to admire the views across the Punch Bowl near Hindhead. Nearby, Gibbet Hill is the second highest point in Surrey.
8. Guildford Castle Grounds: While those who live there are well aware of the charms, whether it’s for outdoor theatre, a community get-together or lazy lunch, the gardeners here go beyond the call of duty.
9. Ripley: Time your visit right and you’ll be able to stock your hamper from their award-winning farmers’ market. Head for the green for cricket or relax by the river.
10. Waverley Abbey: One of Surrey’s most exceptional heritage attractions, it’s well worth a journey towards Farnham with your picnic hamper. Now ruins, this was the first Cistercian abbey in England.
BLUE SKY ENTERTAINMENT...
11. Music festivals: If you’re looking for a full on summer festival with camping experience in Surrey then WeyFest is your best bet in the countryside near Farnham this August. More at weyfest.co.uk
12. Open air cinema: Hampton Court Palace, RBG Kew, Lost Format Society (on top of Centrale car park in Croydon!), Guildford Lido, RHS Garden Wisley and Epsom College are all getting involved for the summer.
13. Outdoor theatre: Guildford is often the beating heart of outdoor theatre in Surrey and Guildford Shakespeare Company and The Pranksters Theatre Company are both back with productions this summer. Elsewhere, Guildburys Theatre Company will be taking Nell Gwynn to Waverley Abbey House near Farnham and Haslemere Museum this July.
14. The Runnymede Riviera: Grab a group of friends and head off to the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel, where you can hire the HotTug (a hot tub that can journey down the river) or the super stylish Antaris diesel-powered launch. They also have a new POPS pop-up bar offering premium popsicles. More at runnymedehotel.com
15. Wings & Wheels: Held over the August Bank Holiday weekend at Dunsfold Aerodrome, the home of Top Gear, Wings & Wheels celebrates the long history of British aviation and motoring. The high octane displays support Brooklands Museum and Help for Heroes this year. More at wingsandwheels.net
ESCAPES FOR YOUR SOUL...
16. Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden: Neil Wilkin’s captivating glass Dew Drops provide the perfect introduction to this garden, framing and twisting the image of the stylish cottage decking across the pond. This outdoor gallery blends the highly abstract with more traditional materials and artworks. More at hannahpescharsculpture.com
17. Mayfield Lavender: Peak season is on the horizon at the 25-acre field at Mayfield Lavender near Banstead, so hit the road there for afternoon tea in their café surrounded by a blaze of purple and dreams of Provence. More at mayfieldlavender.com
18. The Medicine Garden: Whether looking for tips for your Indian cooking, perfect picnics, vegetarian dishes, yoga or just a place to escape it all, The Medicine Garden has a hamper full of courses, supper clubs and events to keep you busy through the summer. More at themedicinegarden.com
19. The Sculpture Park: Head off the beaten track near Churt to explore the wild and meandering paths of The Sculpture Park, where inspiration greets you at every twist through the woods. More at thesculpturepark.com
20. Surrey Wildlife Trust: Managing some of our county’s most precious and beautiful nature reserves, Surrey Wildlife Trust also host a packed events diary. Whether taking a picnic to Shere Woodlands, joining a ranger for a tour of the Semaphore Tower near Ockham or walking through wonderful wildflowers, they’ve always got a little exploration lined up. More at surreywildlifetrust.org
21. Go Ape! Found just down the road from Bourne Wood, where everyone from Gladiator to Harry Potter has run through the trees, Go Ape! is just as thrilling as ever. Escape the heat by heading for the canopy near Farnham! More at goape.co.uk
22. Campaign Paintball: Anyone who is anyone has shot up the sets at Cobham on this attraction’s journey to earning the title of the “UK’s ultimate paintball, laser tag and multi-activity centre.” Sprint through the frontier Dodge City, First World War trenches, a 30ft ‘Zombie’ tower and a jungle zone etc. More at campaign-paintball.com
23. Action Days UK: At Henfold Lakes, near Dorking, they are best known as the home to one of the UK’s top army assault courses, as well as the strangely popular The Nuts Challenge mud run. Mad people! More at actiondaysout.co.uk
24. SHAC: We suppose it should have been obvious from the name but Surrey Hills Adventure Company seem to get more adventurous with every month. Already known for their mountain biking and holiday adventures, they’ve added a disused quarry at Buckland to expand their stand-up paddleboarding offering. More at thesurreyhillsadventurecompany.com
25. Farncombe Boat House: Whether you’re looking to enjoy a week on the river, a relaxing day in a narrow boat or just a little messing about in a rowing boat, canoe or punt, then this is the place to go. Explore Surrey with a swan’s eye view. More at farncombeboats.co.uk
SURREY FOOD CHAT…
26. Breweries: With Hogs Back in Tongham long champions of the tongue-in-cheek brewery tour and Surrey Hills Brewery having been based at Denbies for a while now, the brewery tour world is on the up. Then there’s Frensham Brewery’s tap room; Tillingbourne Brewery, which uses The Stephan Langton Inn as its de facto tap room; and Godstone Brewery’s Fresh Beer Fridays at Flower Farm. More Surrey breweries and beers here.
27. Vineyards: For more than 30 years, Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking has flown the flag but has now been joined by award-winners Albury, who host tastings every weekend; Greyfriars, who have monthly open days; and High Clandon, which is open by appointment.
28. Distilleries: In a few short years, there’s also been an explosion of distilleries but Silent Pool is still the go-to destination with regular events and collaborations with other local foodies at their expanding distillery.
29. PYO: Esher’s Garsons Farm is the country’s largest pick-your-own farm, but it’s also joined by the powerhouse producer for pubs and restaurants Secretts in Milford; 20 different crops at Crockford Bridge in Addlestone; and, the smallest of this selection, Flower Farm in Godstone.
30. Festivals: We’re definitely in the midst of the food festival years right now, with Reigate’s Eat!, Guildford’s Cheese and Chilli and Oxted’s famous beer/music festival.
AT HOME WITH THE NATIONAL TRUST...
31. Clandon Park: A visit to Clandon Park is becoming increasingly intriguing again, with the walkway extended into the house (you can now go into the State Bedroom and the spectacular Marble Hall) and games on the lawn for families. More at nationaltrust.org.uk/clandon-park
32. Claremont Landscape Garden: The Esher garden continues to celebrate its former resident, Princess Charlotte, the promising young heir to the throne, who died 200 years ago. There’s a life-size reproduction of her garden tea-house. More at nationaltrust.org.uk/charlotte-at-claremont
33. Dapdune Wharf: This summer, Dapdune Wharf in Guildford is hosting sports in the orchard, pilates on the island, bushcraft, camping, rock climbing, star gazing and summer holiday activities based on Peter Pan. More at nationaltrust.org.uk
34. Hatchlands Park: Enjoy an evening of classic Jane Austen wit and romance as Heartbreak Productions bring Northanger Abbey to Hatchlands Park on Wednesday, August 30. More at nationaltrust.org.uk/hatchlands-park
35. Polesden Lacey: In Great Bookham, they’re revealing the essentials of the top class hospitality that ‘society’s finest hostess’ Mrs Greville was known for. There’s also a new rose in her honour, the Rosa Margaret Greville, which you can buy in the shop. More at nationaltrust.org.uk/polesden-lacey
ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY...
36. Country shows: With Surrey County Show having been and gone, it’s a manic month for rural life across Surrey with Cranleigh on Sunday July 2, Chertsey on Saturday August 12 and Sunday August 13, Egham on Saturday August 26 and Sunday August 27 and finally Edenbridge & Oxted on Sunday August 27 and Monday August 28.
37. Farmers’ Markets: As you may have read in July’s Gourmet Life pages, Surrey has an exciting new and properly rural farmers’ market in the peaceful surrounds of Ockley. Established favourites include those at Ripley, Milford, Guildford and Surbiton.
38. Gatton Country Fair: Boasting views across spectacular grounds, the country fair at Gatton Park, near Reigate, takes place on Sunday July 2. Taking place on the parterre of the former country home turned school, there will be themed stalls, children’s activities and food stalls. More at gattonpark.com
39. Rural Life Centre: Having started life as a private collection of agricultural equipment, the Rural Life Centre is now spread over 10 acres of fields, woodlands and barns, near Farnham, and run by a charitable trust. More at rural-life.org.uk
40. Surrey 4x4 Tours: A new and unique way for many to enjoy our county’s countryside, Surrey 4x4 Tours owner Gareth Jex has started a series of tours where he drives group bookings around in Borris, his eight-seater Land Rover Defender soft top. Variations include Tap Room, Prosecco and Supper under the Stars tours. More at surrey4x4tours.co.uk
41. Hampton Court Palace: Well you’ll have found an awful lot more detail about the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in July’s Surrey Life magazine but fortunately the spectacular historic home boasts beautiful gardens all year long. More at hrp.org.uk
42. Munstead Wood: Why not visit the former Godalming home of internationally acclaimed garden designer Gertrude Jekyll? The Grade I house and garden are now in private ownership but the garden is opened during the week by arrangement. July to November is the best time for the Main Border. More at munsteadwood.org.uk
43. NGS: Surrey’s National Garden Scheme organiser, Maggie Boyd and husband David have created a hidden haven at Bardsey in Haslemere and they are among the must-see July openings for the National Gardens Scheme. More at ngs.org.uk
44. Painshill: A work of art in its own right, Painshill’s long list of follies and beautifully manicured gardens surrounding expansive lakes make it a perfect summer destination on any day. More at painshill.co.uk
45. RHS Garden Wisley: The RHS’ flagship home, when it’s not on parade at the likes of Chelsea and HCP, it’s a busy summer ahead for Wisley with film nights, late openings and even Enid Blyton’s Famous Five joining the gardening adventure. More at rhs.org.uk
SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS...
46. The Big Camp: The National Trust’s annual camp-a-long returns with Polesden Lacey, Witley Common, Dapdune Wharf and Winkworth Arboretum all playing their part on Saturday July 15 and Sunday July 16. Spaces sell out before they’re announced at times! More at nationaltrust.org.uk
47. Big Hat Bushcamp: If you’ve a budding Bear Grylls in the family, then this place could be for you. With two camps, amidst the beautiful woodlands of historic Runnymede and Godstone, they run bushcraft courses on weekends and holidays throughout the year. Includes ‘wild-camping’ for those who think they already know it all. More at bighatbushcamp.co.uk
48. The Green Escape: There aren’t many ways to improve a leisurely hike up Leith Hill followed by a refreshing beer at The Plough Inn in Coldharbour, but adding a night of fire pit BBQ, relaxing under stars and shepherd huts in woodland might well be it. More at thegreenescape.co.uk
49. Surrey Hills Yurts: With six luxury yurts found off the beaten track near Westcott, Surrey Hills Yurts is a little slice of heaven. Whether you’re looking for a yoga retreat, somewhere to settle down with nature and learn some rural crafts or just a break from laptops and mobile phones, it’s hard to beat. More at surreyhillsyurts.co.uk
50. Thames Skiff Hire: Their classic boats have made appearances in Shakespeare In Love, Great Expectations, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and you could enjoy a night on the river with this Walton-on-Thames based skiff hire company. In the evening, just unfurl your canvas cover and the entire craft is converted into a snug tent rocking you to sleep. More at skiffhire.com
Best summer pubs in Surrey 2017 – where to enjoy al fresco drinks and dining
Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards hall of fame
Enter the Surrey Life Photography Competition 2017/2018 with your Surrey Hills pics
Villages in Surrey: 14 of the prettiest places to live