10 things to see and do in Caterham
PUBLISHED: 10:52 24 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:53 24 July 2018
A place of two halves, the East Surrey town is bordered on one side by London’s urban expansion and on the other by the sanctuary of the Surrey Hills
1. Queen’s Park
Home to sports teams, dog walkers, families and community events, Queen’s Park is found just off Church Road, near St Mary’s Church and St Lawrence’s Ancient Church. There’s a large playground for the little ones, tennis courts for those swotting up for Wimbledon and the highly social Caterham Bowls Club, which was founded in 1911.
Queen’s Park Road, Caterham CR3 5RB
From comedy clubs to art exhibitions via wedding fairs, beer festivals and music nights, The Soper Hall, which is found just along from Caterham Valley train station, has become a hub for creativity and community. Built in 1911, the building is named after William Garland Soper, a leading politician and businessman of the time, who is referred to by some as ‘The Father of Modern Caterham’. These days, it’s run by a volunteer board of directors.
Harestone Valley Road, Caterham CR3 6HY
Originally a church and then a school, The Miller Centre opened in its current guise in 1977. Best known as the local theatre, it also acts as a day centre to help improve the quality of life for people in retirement. A couple of top tips for you if you’re looking to visit: make a night of it by enjoying tapas and a cocktail or two at the nearby Casa Lola restaurant and keep an eye out for their monthly film club.
30 Godstone Road, Caterham CR3 6RA
Pride of place at Caterham Galleries is a regularly-changing feature window, which showcases local artists. Step inside, however, and you’ll find a real Aladdin’s Cave. While downstairs is the more practical end of the business and also hosts some alluring artworks and sculpture, it’s upstairs where the real magic happens if you can make it up their tight, winding staircase to the gallery. As part of the town’s recent Colour Caterham initiative, which saw guerrilla knitting hung from trees and a community piano left ready for anyone to play, local residents painted the side of the building with their handprints. That’s one way to brighten up the British weather!
1 Godstone Road, Caterham CR3 6RE
5. The Arc
Owned by the Caterham Barracks Community Trust (which was tasked with converting the old military barracks into an ‘urban village’ after the MOD sold it in 1998), The Arc is a Swiss army knife of a concept. From new mums’ coffee mornings and soft play to pilates for the over 50s, fashion shows and art classes, The Arc opened in 2010 and hasn’t looked back since. If you’ve still got plenty of energy after your visit, then there’s always the wonderfully named Happy Valley nearby waiting patiently to offer splendid summer strolls.
39 Weston Drive, Caterham CR3 5XY
Billed as the UK’s only skatepark in a chapel (corrections on a postcard if you know differently!), Skaterham is open to BMX, skateboard, scooter and inline riders. It’s a pretty dramatic setting for flips and tricks too with original arches and columns intersecting the ramps. Formerly known as The CR3 Youth Project, they operate on an ‘affordable for all’ basis for young people aged from five to 25-plus and welcome around 400 to 500 visitors per week.
The Chapel, The Village, Guards Avenue, Caterham CR3 5XL
One of the top co-educational schools in England, it’s not unusual to spot international sports stars popping in to Caterham School to inspire pupils – and you might even see the occasional parachute display team drop in, as happened recently. Found only a 20-minute walk from Caterham-on-the-Hill and Caterham Valley town centres, in the beautiful Harestone Valley, it’s an environment where children thrive. The school’s 200 acres include sports fields, woodland, high ropes course and outdoor learning centre, among other highlights.
Harestone Valley Road, Caterham CR3 6YA
Found on the steep descent into Caterham Valley, near the station and Church Walking Shopping Centre, you’ll find the small but perfectly formed East Surrey Museum. Originally built as a private cottage around 1867, the museum is volunteer run and focuses on social history, archaeology or geology of the East Surrey area. Perhaps coincide a visit with a trawl around the Valley’s many jewellery shops (there are five in total!) to see if you can uncover your own historic treasures of the future.
1 Stafford Road, Caterham CR3 6JG
There aren’t many gliding clubs in Surrey and yet one of them just so happens to be on Caterham’s doorstep. Based at Kenley Aerodrome, which was one of a series of airfields that dispatched fighter aircraft to counter German bombing raids in the Firs World War, Surrey Hills Gliding Club offer a far more leisurely attraction these days. Operating Monday to Friday throughout the year (weather permitting), it’s just a 10-minute drive out of town.
Kenley Aerodrome, Victor Beamish Avenue, Caterham CR3 5FX
10. North Downs Way
Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the North Downs Way runs right along the Surrey Hills alongside Caterham and offers opportunities for adventure on foot, bike or horse. If you’re leaving from Caterham, it can take you off towards Kent (passing Godstone Vineyard and the Titsey Estate) one way or towards Reigate (passing Gatton Park and Colley Hill) the other. If you’re heading into Caterham, you could do worse than stopping for lunch at East Side Deli or, if the weather is on the warmer side, make a pit stop at Sweet and Savoury Waffles for a cooling gelato.