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10 reasons to visit Leatherhead

PUBLISHED: 20:55 09 November 2016 | UPDATED: 21:47 09 November 2016

Leatherhead, Surrey

Leatherhead, Surrey

Archant

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, Leatherhead is also home to a surprising number of hidden gems

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2016

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1 Leatherhead Museum

Hampton Cottage, 64 Church Street, Leatherhead KT22 8DP: 01372 386348 / leatherheadlocalhistory.org.uk

Housed in a delightful 17th century cottage, this lovely little museum is not to be missed. As well as a fascinating permanent exhibition upstairs showing how a room would have looked on VE Day – laid out as it would have been by the owners of the cottage at the time – there are also temporary arrangements too. This month, there is a ‘fab’ display of Leatherhead in the ‘60s – you’ll love this if you are old enough to remember Marc Bolan and Cat Stevens. Apparently, they both played at a local club nearby before they hit the big time. One for the kids this month too – a medieval exhibition with costumes for them to try on.

2 Box Hill

London Road, Mickleham RH5 6BX: 03448 001895 / nationaltrust.org.uk

Part of the stunning stretch of country- side that is the North Downs, Box Hill is one of the jewels in the crown of the National Trust. There’s loads to do here, whether tackling the Nature Play Trail with the family, which starts from the visitor centre, or just enjoying a quiet walk on your own. A good place to start exploring is the Salomons Memorial Viewpoint right on the top of the hill. Offering incredible views south over the Surrey countryside, there is also a handy café and facilities nearby. In addition, there is a folly in the shape of a tower, Box Hill Fort, and various hikes depending on your level of fitness! Just don’t forget your camera!

3 Leatherhead Theatre

7 Church Street, Leatherhead KT22 8DN: 01372 365141 / theleatherheadtheatre.org

A lot more than just a theatre, this is also a venue for exhibitions, performing arts and cinema screenings of major performances from the likes of The National Theatre, Royal Opera House and more. At the other end of the scale, Leatherhead Theatre Book Club meets on the first Thursday of every month.

4 Riverside Walks

Town Bridge, Bridge Street, Leatherhead KT22 8BZ: 01306 885001 / molevalley.gov.uk

If you’ve just come down from Box Hill (see No.2), we haven’t finished with you yet – there are a couple of lovely walks right by the town that show you all the delights of the River Mole and some of the history of Leatherhead. The Meadow Walk, starting at the old Town Bridge, is about an hour-long and takes you under the arched railway bridges and round a beautiful meadow full of wildlife (including kingfishers, kestrels and deer). Alternatively, the Town Historic Walk takes you the other way past The Mansion, The Priory, the main town, the church and Thorncroft. This one’s a bit shorter at around 45 minutes.

5 The Running Horse

38 Bridge Street, Leatherhead KT22 8BZ: 01372 372081 / running-horse.co.uk

We’ve included this traditional English pub because not only does it come highly recommended but it’s also right next to the Town Bridge – handy for when you finish those walks... Dating back to 1403, The Running Horse is one of the oldest buildings in Leatherhead, with oak beams and a real fireplace. Voted CAMRA pub of the year two years running, they serve home-made pub favourites using locally-sourced ingredients. Once a month on a Sunday, there is also live jazz, while every Tuesday you need to get your thinking cap on for the pub quiz. And how’s this for a bit of trivia? Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I once stayed here.

6 Mole Valley Arts Alive Festival

Leatherhead town and vicinity: 01306 870609 / molevalley.gov.uk

This is the big one for the town every October and we challenge you not to find something of interest! Over the years, Mole Valley’s community arts festival has grown into a huge fusion of varied events, featuring local people and performers, and celebrates its 22nd anniversary this year. From music, dance and theatre to musicals, poetry and loads more. For the full programme, see the website.

7 Fire and Iron Gallery

Rowhurst Forge, Oxshott Road, Leatherhead KT22 0EN: 01372 386453 / fireandiron.co.uk

Described as a ‘Mecca for metal maniacs’, Fire and Iron has, over the years, built up a reputation as one of the most important places for metal artwork in the region. Under the stewardship of Lucy Quinnell, who owns and manages the gallery and can actually trace her family’s metalworking ancestry back to the 1500s, it is open to visitors from Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. As well as the shop on site, there are regular exhibitions, demonstrations, shows and lectures. One of their more famous pieces of work is the huge Dorking Cockerel now proudly perching on a roundabout not far away.

8 Leatherhead Leisure Centre

Guildford Road, Leatherhead KT22 9BL: 01372 377674 / fusion-lifestyle.com

Just a few minutes drive from the M25 or a short walk from the town centre, you’ll find this state-of-the-art sports and leisure centre. Originally built in the 1970s, the centre was given a massive refit and extension in 2011. With loads of facilities on offer, including a bowls hall, diving pool, basketball courts, trampolines and squash courts, these are just a small sample of the ways you can tone that body… What is more, if you are over 50, there’s also a range of Primetime activities to help you look 20 again (or at least the right side of 50 anyway…).

9 Bocketts Farm

Young Street, Fetcham KT22 9BS: 01372 363764 / bockettsfarm.co.uk

A huge animal adventure park that has grown up over the years, Bocketts Farm has just about every creature you will come across on a farm, as well as pony rides, outdoor adventure, pedal go-karts, goat milking and, best of all, the pig racing (cheer them on and watch them fly…). The kids will love it here and you can even book a ‘Bocketts Birthday’ treat for the budding young farmer with an animal-handling session, optional tractor ride and even a farmyard-themed cake. For more information, see their website.


10 Emlyn Restaurant

At the Foot of Box Hill, Dorking Road, Dorking RH5 6BX: 01306 884561 / emlynrestaurant.co.uk

As Surrey Life went to press, the Emlyn had just been named Restaurant of the Year in our 2016 Food & Drink Awards (see more about all that from page 116). So, while admittedly it is located just outside Leatherhead, at the foot of Box Hill, we felt this very special restaurant warranted inclusion. Run by local chef Nick Sinclair and his team, the aim here is to bring a fresh perspective to British classics, offering contemporary dishes that are pared down and beautifully presented – with locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible. It all takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Surrey Hills – and the restaurant also looks out over three acres of landscaped gardens. Book while you still can!

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