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10 of the best Surrey views

PUBLISHED: 09:49 27 September 2016 | UPDATED: 16:22 02 May 2018

You have to remind yourself you're in Surrey when enjoying the views at Denbies (detail from panorama shot)

You have to remind yourself you're in Surrey when enjoying the views at Denbies (detail from panorama shot)

A long-time contributor to Surrey Life’s Beautiful Surrey photography pages, Julian Heath’s stunning scenes around the county often grace our magazine. This month, we challenged him to pick his ten top places for a photo shoot

Richmond's riverside offers spectacular photography opportunities (detail from panorama shot)Richmond's riverside offers spectacular photography opportunities (detail from panorama shot)

Carshalton Ponds

This is a very pretty area at the beginning of the Carshalton section of The Wandle, which was an important industrial river in years gone by. The ponds are surrounded, in no particular order, by Honeywood Museum, which is a very interesting and enjoyable place to visit for adults and children; The Greyhound Hotel, which was an 18th century coaching inn; and All Saints’ Church, which has one of the most beautiful organs and organ galleries you’ll ever see. I have photographed this area many times and every angle produces a lovely view, throughout the seasons.

Location: The western end of Carshalton High Street on the A232. There is a car park in the centre of the village.


Denbies Hillside

Behind the vineyard at Denbies Wine Estate, there is a track leading up the hill behind with lovely views (pictured above). If you follow this into the woods, following the road as it snakes up the hill, you’ll eventually come out into open areas overlooking the whole eastern side of the vineyard, their buildings, the Mole Valley, the A24 and the train line, and a great view of Box Hill. On clear days, if you look carefully, you’ll also see the windmill on Reigate Heath.

Location: Denbies is found off the A24, just north-east of Dorking. Follow the ‘brown signs’.


Devil’s Punch Bowl and Gibbet Hill

Ever since the old A3 was diverted through the Hindhead Tunnel, this beautiful area has been a scene of tranquillity again. It boasts lovely wild country and the views from Gibbet Hill at just under 900ft (272m), the second-highest point in Surrey, are quite stunning all around. On a good day, you’ll even see some of the taller buildings in London, some 40 miles away. This is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is well worthy of a visit. I look forward to heading back there soon.

Location: The car park for the area is just off (what’s left of it) the old London Road and this is off the A287 at Hindhead.


Guildford High Street

With distant views to the rolling hills beyond, Guildford boasts a lovely High Street that is also packed with history. From the scholarly statue at the lower end, wandering slowly up the hill (ignore the shops, you can look at them on the way down again!), take a peek at all the older buildings above the shops, pubs and banks – there are many absolute gems, not least of which are the Old Guildhall and the wonderful clock above it. Listing just three others: The Posting House, The Three Pigeons and Abbot’s Hospital are all quite spectacular from the ground upwards, but take the time to have a closer look at the architecture and window styles of the other buildings too.

Location: It’s probably best to get the train into Guildford if you can these days – the station is just a few minutes walk from the town centre – but there are also plenty of charging car parks.


Kingston’s riverside walk

There are two views here that I like. The first is along the Kingston side, on the walkway by all the restaurants and looking back towards the bridge. It’s a beautiful view of the bridge and, in the summertime, seeing the many people enjoying good food and company at their chosen restaurant. The bridge is lovely at that angle and, with the few houseboats across the river, it’s a very picturesque scene – enhanced even more if there are some boats or rowing-boats on the water too. Then, walk back towards The Hogsmill and follow it to the new little brick-road bridge and look towards Kingston’s Town Hall. In front of that is the Clattern Bridge and various other buildings – some old, some modern. It’s a simple view but I’ve always liked it and have photographed it a number of times. The Clattern Bridge is located under the High Street, opposite the Town Hall.

Location: Depending on the time of day, Kingston is another one that’s probably best tackled by train or bus rather than the car.


Ranmore Common

Next, it’s back to the more traditional countryside views at Ranmore Common. From the National Trust car park, follow the path that leads down the hill. It is quite steep and slippery in muddy conditions, so take care. Down the hill is a gate, but hold back for a minute; if you’re a photographer and need a bit of foreground interest, the gate has a rustic appeal to it. Passing through the gate (but, if you’re not of a spiritual nature, I would recommend opening it first!), 
will allow you an uninterrupted panorama of Dorking and a patchwork of farm fields, with Leith Hill to the south – you should be able to see the tower through a notch in the trees. On a clear day, you can also just see Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs.

Location: The National Trust car park is on Ranmore Common Road at the highest point.


Richmond’s riverside

A few months ago, there was a beautiful picture by Leigh Cousins of this wonderful view of Richmond in the Beautiful Surrey section of Surrey Life. His image was taken at dusk, as the sun was setting, and shows all the lights from the restaurants and bars and the bustle of people wandering back 
and forth. I really like that picture and wish it was mine but it isn’t. I have taken a similar view (pictured below) with a tilt and shift lens, which gives me a much wider view, but not at sunset. Both his image and mine are interesting but, in my mind, his takes the gold medal; I’ll have to make do with silver or even bronze!

Location: Much like Guildford and Kingston, you can get there by car and there’s plenty of parking (although it’s not especially cheap!) but train can sometimes be the easier option.


Shere village

This is a delightful little village, nestling on the River Tillingbourne and in amongst those wonderful Surrey Hills. There are many timber-framed Tudor buildings, a couple of excellent pubs and a great restaurant. St James’ Church dates back to the 12th century and the old prison still exists – it’s now a private home. On warmer days, you’ll find children of all ages splashing around in the stream – I’ve seen people who are clearly 50-plus joining in too! It’s well worth a visit if you’ve not been.

Location: Found off the A25, Shere has a free car park just off Upper Street.


St Martha-on-the-Hill church

This hilltop location is well worth the effort. I prefer to visit via the Guildford Lane car park, mainly because it’s slightly nearer where I live but also because after climbing the route I feel as though I’ve conquered a mountain! The ground is very sandy, so it’s often two steps up, slide down one! However, at the top, after this invigorating climb, there is the delightful little church of St Martha-on-the-Hill and splendid views in all directions.

Location: There are two car parks at either end of this hill, both of which are down very narrow lanes and the climb is quite steep from both of them. One is off Halfpenny Lane and the other off Guildford Lane just next to Albury.


Thursley Common National Nature Reserve

This huge area of heathland is probably a couple of hundred feet above sea-level but there’s also wetland areas with boardwalks – not the best place to step aside to let someone else pass! I’ve chosen this because I also love big open skies and you’ll find that everywhere you look at this National Nature Reserve. There are a few trees around, but nothing that would give the impression of being a copse. Look out too for the wonderful wildlife that abounds. Binoculars would be a good accessory to have with you, if you can carry them as well as your camera!

Location: The nature reserve is found just north of the village of Thursley, 5km south-west of Milford and 8km south-west of Godalming and just west of the A3.


For more about Julian and his photography, see his website at

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