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10 reasons to visit Esher

PUBLISHED: 14:57 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 14:57 20 June 2016

Esher, Surrey

Esher, Surrey

Archant

With the class of London but the relaxed vibe of the Surrey countryside, Esher is the perfect place to while away a day. Here are our highlights…

The Giro Café offers much more than just coffeeThe Giro Café offers much more than just coffee

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2016

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Claremont Landscape Garden

Portsmouth Road KT10 9JG: 01372 467806 / nationaltrust.org.uk

The name doesn’t do full justice to this fabulous piece of local history owned by the National Trust. Not only a glorious landscaped garden, but also with a focus on family activities, there’s always something happening here. Look out for the Belvedere Tower openings, as it’s one of the oldest buildings on the estate and rewards you with fabulous views across Surrey. All details on the website.

St George’s Church

Esher Park Avenue KT10 9RQ: 01372 469446 / stgeorgesesher.org

A bit of Royal history for you here, as Princess Victoria (and later as Queen Victoria) attended this church while visiting her uncle at nearby Claremont. A Grade I listed building and the oldest public building in Esher, St George’s is a Tudor construction dating from the 16th century. Worth a look if you have an interest in building styles, the church has an unusual mixture of sandstone, chalk, flint, brick, stone and clay – so a bit of everything here. There is also a lovely wooden clock¬-urret that still houses the original mechanism from the 1600s. Open Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.

Sandown Park Racecourse

Portsmouth Road KT10 9AJ: 01372 464348 / sandown.the jockeyclub.co.uk

Opened in 1875, this famous racecourse has seen many a well-known steed entertain the punters – who hasn’t heard of the great Desert Orchid? A fabulous venue for an afternoon’s flutter, the people-watching is great fun, too, as you can often spot a celeb or two. Race meets can seem a bit daunting at first, but just remember to take some cash (bookies only accept bets of £5 or more), buy a racecard to see which nags you want to lose it on and pack a pair of binoculars. Racing not your thing? There’s also a fantastic karting track next door (see daytona.co.uk) and even a dry-ski slope (see sandownsports.co.uk).

The Bear

71 High Street KT10 9RQ: 01372 469786 / bearesher.co.uk

This one is difficult to miss really as there are two huge statues of bears on the roof. Perfect as a place to stay while you are at the races (Sandown is less than a mile away), The Bear is a pub, hotel and restaurant in one. “Proper pub food with a modern twist” and “seasonal ingredients” should keep the hunger pangs at bay. We liked the sound of the Bear Classics – including Steak and Kidney Suet Pudding with London Stout Gravy or perhaps the Ale-battered Cod… and, to finish, the Hot Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Custard sounds just right.

Esher Commons

Copsem Lane KT10 9HH: woodlandtrust.org.uk

With Esher Commons designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, there are some really interesting walks to enjoy in this neck of the woods. Our top tip is to park your car in the Copsem Lane car park (A244), just a couple of hundred yards from the A3 roundabout. There’s an information board there about the commons, and you’re at the start of a lovely walk that leads to Black Pond – part of the Local Nature Reserve and once used as a water supply to Claremont Landscape Garden. Oh and don’t be alarmed if you see a goat or two – they were introduced in 2015 as a grazing trial…

Garsons Farm Shop and Restaurant

Winterdown Road KT10 8LS: 01372 460181 / garsons.co.uk

Fans of pick-your-own will be in their element here… Garsons Farm boasts the UK’s largest PYO farm with 150 acres of fruit, veg and flowers. The season has just got under way this month (May) so dive in and get picking from 34 crops and 76 varieties. Garsons advise calling first to check crop availability. Too much bending for you? There’s always the farm shop, garden centre and a restaurant for those who don’t like to get their hands dirty.

Elmbridge Museum

Civic Centre, 1 High Street KT10 9SD: 01372 474568 / elmbridgemuseum.org.uk

Describing themselves as a “museum without walls”, Elmbridge Museum is aiming to preserve, document and archive thousands of artefacts that will eventually be available to view by appointment, meaning stored objects become more accessible. There is also a tiny space for exhibitions in the reception area of the Civic Centre. As this isn’t going to take up much of your time, go and have a quick look at the fabulous statue of Queen Victoria in the High Street and the fascinating old pump nearby – given to the town by the Comte de Paris no less!

Giggling Squid

57-59 High Street KT10 9RQ: 01372 469909 / gigglingsquid.com/branches/esher.html

Time for lunch or an evening meal? With a name like Giggling Squid, you have to see what there is on offer. Well, in short, this is a Thai restaurant with, in their words, “startling flavours, amazing colours and original textures.” And, despite the name, there are many dishes on offer other than the tentacled sea beast. How about the DIY Bundles, where you can make things up exactly as you want? You’ll be served with an array of chopped tiger prawns, shallot, lime with skin on, peanut, lemongrass, chilli, salad leaves, mint and a chilli and garlic dressing. A culinary adventure playground!

The Everyman Cinema

22 High Street KT10 9RT: 0871 906 9060 / everymancinema.com

Previously owned by the Odeon, this Grade II listed cinema has now opened its doors to an enticing line-up of films and a bar serving food and drink. With four screens giving a capacity of over 300, there are comfy seats and the latest projection systems. It is also available for private hire if you want to give your friends a special night out (there are gift vouchers for friends on your ‘B’ list) with the Everyman team on hand to help.

Giro

2 High Street KT10 9RT: 01372 701701 / girocycles.com

While this may look at first glance like a little coffee shop perched at the end of the High Street, there’s a lot more going on here than just brewing, with Giro placing itself at the heart of cycling life and the local community. Each week, they organise specific cycle rides and, depending on your ability, you can team up with Giro and pedal off for a Shop Ride (60km), Development Ride (40km) or the more challenging Giro 100 – a 100-mile special leaving after breakfast and back for lunch! For more information, pay a visit to their website.

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