30 spring days out in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 10:12 13 March 2018
Finally the days are getting longer and the temperatures are climbing to double figures. Duncan Hall shares ideas for the best way to enjoy Surrey in the spring
1. Visit a trampoline park
Both Gravity Force in Camberley and AirHop in Guildford offer more than 50 interconnected trampolines to provide a fun bouncy way to keep healthy. Both have a foam pit, dodgeball courts and basketball hoops for practising slam dunks with two long tumble tracks for parkour lovers at Gravity Force.
Gravity Force: Weekend family jump sessions £7.50 per person, plus £2 Gravity Force socks. Membership from £11.99 per month.
AirHop: Sessions start from £10 per person, or from £12 with airhop socks.
Gravity Force: gravityforce.co.uk
2. Let’s Race Horley
Experience all the excitement of driving a Formula One car without having to worry about spinning off a wet track. There are 10 networked simulators with the option to drive different cars, ranging from a Formula Renault BARC to a McLaren F1 GT across tracks including Monza and Silverstone. And there are three HD golf simulators on site which can be booked at the same time as an F1 race.
Tickets from £14.95.
3. Skaterham, Caterham
The former chapel, off Coulsdon Road, has been converted into an indoor skate park for speed-lovers off all ages. Sessions are available for BMXs, skateboards, scooters and inline skates. Ramps ranging from quarterpipes to an 11ft tall vert are ensconced along the old nave. And should the weather brighten up there is also a mini ramp, grind ledges and beginner-level fly-off ramps set up outside.
Tickets £2 for a two-hour session, £3 for three hours.
4. Craggy Island, Guildford
For the past 10 years in Guildford, Craggy Island hasn’t just been about Father Ted – it’s a climbing facility offering 100 rope lines and more than 300 routes. It’s suitable for all levels of climbing, from beginners to solo climbers, with overhangs, slabs and arches all on offer. And there’s a café on site for the less daring. Look out for the new Craggy Island Bouldering and Caving centre in Sutton.
Craggy Island: craggy-island.com
5. Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum, Farnborough
From scale models to full size replica aircraft, the former headquarters of the Royal Engineers Balloon School celebrates 110 years of aircraft innovation in Farnborough. The small town was behind the first airborne cameras, designing flying clothing and the first experiments in carbon fibre. The museum, which is run by Farnham Air Sciences Trust, features interactive exhibits for youngsters.
Open weekends and bank holidays, admission free, donations welcome.
Farnborough Air Sciences Trust Museum: airsciences.org.uk
6. Grayshott Pottery, Hindhead
One of the south’s few working potteries, Grayshott not only has free tours, but also an Emporium and the Kiln Café serving food on their own ceramics. The pottery also offers monthly £150 day workshops for adults and children’s activities during half-term and Easter holidays starting at £4.50 per item.
Grayshott Pottery: grayshottpottery.com
7. Explore an ancient monument
Farnham Castle’s 12th century keep, overlooking the town, is free to enter for 11 months of the year. Only a couple of miles away the ruins of 12th century Waverley Abbey are also free to explore. And the 130-year-old gardens around Guildford Castle are free and open all year round. Entry to the castle, and to see a panorama of Guildford from the roof, costs £3.20, £1.60 children.
8. Visit a bluebell wood
A breath-taking carpet of bluebells is an indicator of spring, Britain’s most wooded county offers plenty from Easter to late April depending on what mood Mother Nature is in. Surrey Wildlife Trust recommends the displays at their reserves Staffhurst Wood in Oxted, Cucknell’s Wood in Shamley Green, Chinhurst Hill in Wonersh, Sheepleas in West Horsley and Wallis Wood in Walliswood Village near Cranleigh.
9. Take a spring walk
The Surrey Hills offers a range of routes taking in Box Hill, Leith Hill and the Devil’s Punch Bowl, using existing rights of way, open common land and picnic sites, as well as nearby towns and villages. Their website offers a range of mapped out walks and runs from Haslemere to Oxted on printable pdfs, ranging from the 3.5km Abinger Trail to the 18km Guildford to Dorking run.
10. Run wild in Stoke Park, Guildford
Offering 50 hectares of open green space, Guildford’s largest park has undergone a refit this winter, with improvements to the fitness trail and mini golf course, which reopens at the end of May. Youngsters aged four to eight can go in the playground, where the much-loved helter-skelter will reopen in May. When the weather warms up there is also the lido and paddling pool to cool off.
11. Go birdwatching on Chobham Common
The largest National Nature Reserve in the south of England is home to more than 100 different species of birds, including the Dartford warbler, hobby and nightjar. The lowland heath also has more than 300 different species of wild flower, 29 species of butterfly and 22 types of dragonfly, with frogs, toads, newts, adders, grass snakes and lizards hiding in the undergrowth.
12. Visit a museum or art gallery
Art lovers should visit Woking’s Lightbox in Chobham Road, which has a range of interactive activities for youngsters and a permanent museum section telling the story of the town. Visiting exhibitions, such as the current Turner in Surrey display, have an entry fee.
Other Surrey museums, which can be visited gratis include the Bourne Hall Museum, in Ewell; Chertsey Museum; East Surrey Museum in Caterham; Egham Museum; Guildford Museum; Kingston Museum and Haslemere Educational Museum, which is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. All offer an insight into their local area stretching from the Stone Age to the present day.
13. Festival of Tulips at Dunsborough Park, Ripley
Dunsborough Park’s six acres of formal gardens were laid out in the 1700s, and in spring they are overrun with tulips of all colours. The tulip festival is on Saturdays in April between 14 and 28 from 11.30am to 3.30pm.
Entry: £7, children free.
14. Lambing in Fetcham and Godstone
Easter is a great time to see the new additions to the farm arrive, and at both Bocketts Farm Park near Leatherhead and Godstone Farm visitors can get close to the cutest symbols of the new season.
Bocketts Farm tickets £10.50, £10.95 children between three and 17.
Godstone Farm tickets £9.40, children aged one year £3.60.
15. RHS Wisley Near Woking
George Fergusson Wilson’s former Oakwood experimental garden attracts more than a million visitors each year, March sees the celebrated fritillira, orchids and bonsai trees, while in April there are weekends of cyclamen, alpine flowers and irises. The current Butterflies in the Glasshouse exhibition ends on March 4.
Entry from £14.50, children £7.25.
16. Birdworld, Farnham
It’s not just about the birds at Birdworld. The site also features the Jenny Wren Farm, featuring the latest newborn arrivals, and the aquarium Underwater World. Flying displays start from Easter.
Tickets from £14.95, £11.95 children.
17. British Wildlife Centre, Lingfield
It’s easy to forget the wildlife on our own doorstep, which is what the British Wildlife Centre celebrates. There are chances to meet animals ranging from red squirrels to foxes.
Tickets £11.50, £8.50 children.
18. Winkworth Arboretum, Goldalming
The National Trust arboretum is home to more than 1,000 shrubs and trees. In the spring look out for magnolias, bluebells and azaleas.
Tickets £8.10, £4 children.
19. Sculpture Gardens
For more than 30 years the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden has been showing the best in contemporary sculpture. From Sunday April 1 new works will be added to join favourites such as Neil Wilkin’s glass Dew Drops, and Ronald van der Meijs whose Sound Architecture 5 uses 5,000 stainless steel bicycle bells.
The Sculpture Park in Churt has more than 800 sculptures across 10 acres of arboretum and water gardens. The two-mile trail includes macabre bronze skeletons by Wilfred Pritchard and floral-inspired works by Ruth Moilliet. And look out for the annual exhibition by the Surrey Sculpture Society, which takes over the gardens at the Birtley Estate, in Bramley, from May 4 to 28.
Hannah Peschar Sculpture: Tickets £10, £8 concession, £7 children.
The Sculpture Park: Tickets £10, £5 concessions.
20. Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham
The country house where Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, spent her honeymoon is now a shrine to a great collector, Edwardian hostess Maggie Greville. Her Asian collection is celebrated in the house until May 3. Outside there are beautiful gardens and four trails through woodland.
Tickets from £13.60, £6.80 children.
21. Leith Hill Place, Leith Hill
Leith Hill Place was the childhood home of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and his great uncle Charles Darwin conducted experiments in its grounds. Having spent almost 40 years as a school boarding house the National Trust property opened its doors to visitors in summer 2013. It reopens on Friday March 23 with an Easter egg hunt the following weekend.
Tickets £6, £3 children.
22. A day out with Peter Rabbit at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Beatrix Potter’s bejacketed bunny is the special guest at Kew Gardens’ Easter festival, which runs from Friday March 30 to Sunday April 15. Among the attractions are bunny crafts, planting workshops in Mr McGregor’s potting shed and an interactive garden trail.
Tickets £17, £5 children.
23. Hampton Court, East Molesey
Hampton Court was built for Cardinal Wolsey, but seized as a royal palace by King Henry VIII when Wolsey fell from favour. Each room is filled with stories from one of the most fascinating periods of British history, as well as a few spooky tales of spirits and unexplained occurrences. And the grounds feature a large maze, kitchen garden and the 250-year-old largest vine in the world.
Tickets from £9, £4.50 children.
24. Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village Compton
Compton’s Artists’ Village has something for all tastes. Study the Victorian paintings and sculpture in the Watts Gallery, explore the woodlands near the Grade I Listed Watts Chapel or get bang up-to-date with the latest curated displays in the Watts Contemporary Gallery, which pays for the trust’s Arts for All programme.
Tickets from £11.50, £5.75 students, under 16s free.
25. Tripping through the treetops
Esher’s Skywalk has two courses, with rickety bridges and zip wires. Meanwhile Go Ape has centres in Alice Holt Forest and at Chessington World of Adventures. At Alice Holt there are zip wires, Tarzan swings and rope ladders. And in Guildford there’s Wild Wood, offering three different adventures for children aged six up to adults.
Skywalk: Tickets for both courses £30, £22 children. Family £90.
Go Ape Alice Holt: Tickets £33, £25 children.
Wild Wood: Tickets £30, £17.50 children.
26. Thorpe Park, Chertsey
From Friday March 23, Thorpe Park offers more than 30 rides ranging from the terrifying Derren Brown’s virtual reality Ghost Train to the family friendly Storm in a Teacup.
Annual tickets £49 online.
27. Hobbledown, Near Epsom
Youngsters can meet the snufflers, gibblegooks and humpledinks cared for by the mysterical Hobblers, take part in an aerial adventure or simply enjoy the impressive playground and interactive games.
Tickets from £6.50, £8.50 children.
28. Chessington World of Adventures, Chessington
From March 17 one of the new additions will be Tiger Rock, a jungle-themed log flume. Aside from that, there are more than 40 rides, a zoo and a Go Ape trail.
Tickets from £28 online.
29. Brooklands Museum, Weybridge
Brooklands is perfect for petrolheads of all ages. The museum explores the history of flight, the birth of British motorsport and supersonic flight from the UK to the US. It celebrates British car manufacturing on Sunday March 4, and the Mini on Sunday March 25.
Tickets: £13.50, £7 children.
30. Farncombe Boat House, Farncombe
From March, Farncombe Boat House hires day boats along the River Wey as well as rowing boats, Canadian canoes and punts hired by the hour, with the lock keys to row to Guildford.
Hire prices from £10 an hour, day boats from £160 per day.