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33 great ideas for summer days out in Surrey

PUBLISHED: 13:35 20 August 2016 | UPDATED: 13:35 20 August 2016

Mayfield Lavender near Banstead (Photo: Matthew Williams)

Mayfield Lavender near Banstead (Photo: Matthew Williams)


From the world's biggest art event to an eye-catching celebration of British bees to a ruin that's said to have been conquered by actor Tom Cruise in recent months, Matthew Williams brings us a few of this summer's not-to-be-missed destinations - and some great reader offers

Watts Gallery - Artists' Village in Compton (Photo: Pete Gardner)Watts Gallery - Artists' Village in Compton (Photo: Pete Gardner)

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2016


Artistic inspiration

The Sculpture Park


Billed as ‘the world’s largest all-year sculpture exhibition’, there are more than 150 renowned artists exhibiting over 200 sculptures for sale within ten acres of arboretum and wildlife-inhabited water gardens. It really is a mystical journey, where you can easily lose yourself for a magical day. Pack a picnic or head over the road to The Bel & The Dragon country inn for pizza and a pint.

• Adults, £10; children (five to 15), £5. The Sculpture Park, Jumps Road, Churt, near Farnham GU10 2LH. Tel: 01428 605453. Web: thesculpturepark.com

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden


Proudly exhibiting contemporary sculpture in a unique and magical environment for over 30 years, the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden is another of Surrey’s lesser-known but not-to-be-missed attractions. Open from Thursdays to Sundays, every year they exhibit over 150 pieces by some 40-plus artists.

• Adults, £10; children (four to 16), £7. Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, Black & White Cottage, Standon Lane, Ockley RH5 5QR.

Tel: 01306 627269. Web: hannahpescharsculpture.com

Watts Gallery - Artists’ Village


A gallery of international importance at the heart of what is now being dubbed the ‘Artists’ Village’, Watts Gallery is fast becoming one of Surrey’s leading visitor attractions with the opening this spring of GF Watts’ original home and studios. They’ll also be hosting a Woodland Fairy Fair on Saturday July 9 and Sunday July 10, as well as their Watts at Dusk evening events throughout the summer.

• Adults, £9.50; children (16 and under), free. Watts Gallery, Down Lane, Compton GU3 1DQ. Tel: 01483 810235. Web: wattsgallery.org.uk

Animal magic


Near Farnham

With enough colour and song to satisfy the most eager twitcher, Birdworld is found on the edge of the ancient Alice Holt Forest, near Farnham, and is home to over 750 birds, from parrots and toucans to owls. So there’s plenty to tweet about too...

• Adults, £15.95; children (seven to 15), £13.95; children (three to six), £12.95; family, £49.95. Birdworld, Holt Pound, Farnham GU10 4LD. Tel: 01420 22992. Web: birdworld.co.uk

The British Wildlife Centre

Near Lingfield

Rather than giving our many reasons to visit the wonderful British Wildlife Centre, it probably makes more sense to point you in the direction of July’s Surrey Life magazine exclusive interview, where the one and only Dame Judi Dench gives the stamp of approval to one of her very favourite places in our county.

• Adults, £11.50; children (three to 15), £8.50; family, £37. British Wildlife Centre, A22 Eastbourne Road, near Lingfield RH7 6LF. Tel: 01342 834658. Web: britishwildlifecentre.co.uk

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Various locations

Not only can you enjoy one of their many stunning nature reserves across our county (read their monthly column in Surrey Life magazine), but did you know that Surrey Wildlife Trust also offers adult learning courses? From forest schooling to butterfly identification and even macrophotography, take your pick by browsing their website at surreywildlifetrust.org.

• Various locations. Web: surreywildlifetrust.org

Children’s adventures



From climbing towers and daring high-rope courses to zorbing fun, as well as around 300 animals, a visit to the magical land of Hobbledown is always a treat. Their enchanting park-farm adventures have proven quite the hit since opening in 2012.

• Adults, £13; children (two-plus), £14 (weekend and school holiday price). Hobbledown, Horton Lane, near Epsom KT19 8PT. Tel: 0843 289 4979. Web: hobbledown.com

Box Hill’s Nature Play Trail

Near Dorking

This is the kind of place you and your family can lose yourself in for a couple of hours or the whole day. With two miles of walking and lots of trees and structures to climb on, it’s almost guaranteed to wear the little ones out too! Start your adventure at the visitor centre at the top of Box Hill.

• £3 for the car park. Box Hill Visitor Centre, Box Hill, Tadworth KT20 7LB. Tel: 01306 885502.

Web: boxhill@nationaltrust.org.uk

The Magic Garden

East Molesey

Little ones can battle dragons in this magical children’s play area, which is the latest exciting addition to Hampton Court Palace’s world-famous gardens and was officially opened by the Duchess of Cambridge. Tie it in with a visit to the palace itself for an awe-inspiring educational visit.

• Adults, £7.70; children, £5.50 (admission for The Magic Garden and the maze only). Hampton Court Palace, East Molesey KT8 9AU. Tel: 0203 166 6000. Web: hrp.org.uk

Act up outdoors

Guildford Shakespeare Company


It’s a very special year for Guildford Shakespeare Company, who are busy celebrating their 10th anniversary with all sorts of events throughout the year, but their showpiece (and original reason for their existence) remains their spectacular outdoor productions. In this summer’s alfresco extravaganza, A Comedy of Errors at the Castle Grounds continues until Saturday July 2 and Much Ado About Nothing heads to the University of Law’s grounds from Friday July 15 to Saturday July 30.

• Prices vary. Various venues across Guildford. Tel: 01483 304384. Web: guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk

International Youth Arts Festival


Okay, so this is a little broader – and possibly more urban – than ‘outdoor theatre’ might suggest to some, but it covers the arts from all directions. With the Rose Theatre as its hub these days, the International Youth Arts Festival continues to take over Kingston’s streets in many unexpected ways from Friday July 8 to Sunday July 17. It is viewed by some as a precursor to the Edinburgh Fringe.

• Prices vary. Various venues throughout Kingston. Tel: 0208 174 0090. Web: iyafestival.org.uk

Outdoor cinema

Various venues

If you prefer your theatrical action on the big screen, be sure to check out the Summer Nights Outdoor Film Festival at RHS Garden Wisley (The Martian on Friday July 15 and Dirty Dancing on Saturday July 16 – summernightsfilm.co.uk); Hampton Court Palace (four viewings in August and September, including Robin

Hood: Prince Of Thieves on Friday September 2 – thelunacinema.com); and RBG Kew Gardens (four showings in August and September, including Star Wars – The Force Awakens on Wednesday August 24 – thelunacinema.com).

• Prices vary. Various venues

Music in the air

Always the sun


Named after a song by Guildford’s favourite sons, The Stranglers, Always the Sun is the latest attempt to fill our county town’s GuilFest-shaped hole in the summer music festival programme. On Saturday September 10 and Sunday September 11, the event stars Mystery Jets, Turin Brakes, High Cornwell (formerly of The Stranglers) and Dub Pistols. As well as the music, there will be a theatre stage, outdoor kitchen and more.

• Tickets (per day): Adults, £20; children (11-15), £10. Stoke Park, Guildford GU1 1ER. Web: alwaysthesunfestival.co.uk

Haslemere Fringe


An open air, three-day, family-friendly festival, the Haslemere Fringe was once described by Ade Edmondson (of Bottom and The Bad Shepherds fame) as “better than Glastonbury!” How serious he was, we don’t know, but with a line-up including From the Jam and Chas & Dave, it’s certainly a little more than your average village green event! The festival runs from Friday July 1 to Sunday July 3.

• Tickets: £5 to £30. Lion Green, Haslemere GU27 1LD. Web: lionfest.co.uk



Billed as a ‘stress-free weekend in the countryside’, and with surroundings as intriguing as the music, Weyfest brings a dose of rock ‘n’ roll to the Rural Life Centre. This year, The Darkness, Bad Manners, From the Jam, Boomtown Rats and Dreadzone are headlining the festival, which runs across four stages from Friday August 19 to Sunday August 21. Renowned for its friendly, intimate vibe, all we need now is the sunshine!

• Adult three-day weekend tickets, from £99; children (10-15) three-day weekend tickets, from £35. The Rural Life Centre, Reeds Road, Tilford GU10 2DL. Web: weyfest.co.uk


Photography competition!

Click here for details of this year’s Beautiful Surrey Photography Competition, which includes a £500 star prize, or post your pics at surreylife.co.uk/photos


Hitting the trails

CowParade Surrey Hills

All across Surrey

You’ve read the story, you’ve seen the cows taking shape, now download the app and explore our county in search of the colourful CowParade herd! The Surrey version of the world’s biggest art event, our county’s prize plastic moos can be found everywhere from Denbies Wine Estate to RHS Garden Wisley, from across the Surrey Hills and in some more unusual urban locations too. See August’s Surrey Life magazine for a special feature and cover.

• Free admission. Various venues. Web: cowparadesurreyhills.com

Mountain biking trails

All across Surrey

Boasting terrific trails over Leith Hill and the Hurtwood, Surrey has become something of a mountain biking Mecca over the years. Check out the likes of Single Track School (singletrackschool.co.uk) if you’re looking to take a course or make sure to read the mountain biking ‘code of conduct’ at surreyhills.org if you’re hitting the trails for the first time.

• Free admission – unless you’re taking a course! Various venues. Web: surreyhills.org

North Downs Way

All across Surrey

Cutting through the heart of Surrey – and potentially all the way to the White Cliffs of Dover, should one be so inclined – the North Downs Way offers a free and all-too-easily-overlooked day out (or even a weekend away, if you book up accommodation to suit!).

• Free admission. Various venues. Web: nationaltrail.co.uk

For the foodies

Woking Food & Drink Festival


Winner of best local food and drink event at the 2015 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards, Woking Food & Drink Festival is back to celebrate the growing foodie culture thriving in the town. Possibly set to break the 100,000 visitor mark this year, the event usually features some top chefs as well as a celebration of local food and drink businesses. It runs this year from Friday September 2 to Sunday September 4, so put it in the diary for tons of tasty treats!

• Free admission. Woking town centre. Web: wokingfood anddrinkfestival.co.uk

BBC Good Food Show

East Molesey

It’s a feast truly fit for a king at Hampton Court Palace this year, with Paul Hollywood and Michel Roux Jr leading the charge at the BBC Good Food Show. Running from Saturday August 27 to Monday August 29, some of the nation’s top producers and vendors will be parked up in the picturesque palace grounds for this popular event.

• Tickets on door: Adults, £19; children (five to 15), £9.50. Hampton Court, East Molesey KT8 9AU. Web: bbcgoodfoodfestival.com

Denbies Wine Estate


The international awards continue to rain in on Denbies Wine Estate as it celebrates its 30th birthday. Why not take the Sparkling Outdoor Vineyard Train Tour this summer, to enjoy some of the most beautiful viewing points in the vineyard with a glass of their specially selected award-winning Sparkling Cuvée? Read about the whole history of the vineyard here.

• Admission (for the Sparkling Tour): Adults, £10.50; children (two to 17), £3. Denbies Wine Estate, London Road, Dorking RH5 6AA. Tel: 01306 876616. Web: denbies.co.uk

Glorious gardens

RHS Garden Wisley

Near Woking

You probably don’t normally associate RHS Garden Wisley with the space age but things appear to have taken a twist for the sci-fi this summer and not because they’re jumping on the HG Wells bandwagon! The RHS recently teamed up with the UK Space Agency to send 2kg of rocket seeds to the International Space Station for the Rocket Science project. These seeds have now returned to Earth and at RHS Garden Wisley, from Saturday July 23 to Wednesday August 31, look out for gardening, music and arts and crafts activities linked to the mission as well as rocket-filled dishes at the Taste of Wisley cafés and the Food Hall.

• Adults, £11.70; children (five to 16), £5.85. RHS Garden Wisley, Wisley Lane, near Woking GU23 6QB. Tel: 0845 260 9000. Web: rhs.org.uk


Near Richmond

Reconnecting with nature at the awe-inspiring Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is always a special experience. This summer, however, there is even more reason to visit with the world of the British bee brought to life within Wolfgang Buttress’ award-winning installation, The Hive. Conceived

as the centrepiece of the UK pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo and designed in collaboration with BDP and Simmonds Studio, The Hive is the first-ever British pavilion to be reused and brought back home. No wonder there’s a buzz about it...

• Adults, £15; children, £3.50. RBG Kew, Kew, Richmond TW9 3AB. Tel: 0208 332 5655. Web: kew.org

Loseley Park


Built by Sir William More in 1562, Loseley Park has been the home of the More-Molyneux family for over 500 years (read more about Loseley’s history here). The estate’s glorious two-and-a-half-acre Walled Garden is made up of a series of ‘rooms’, which include an award-winning rose garden, a flower garden, a white garden, a herb garden and an organic vegetable garden. Refreshments can be taken in the Wisteria Tea Room, formerly the old kitchen and scullery of Loseley House.

• Tickets for the house, garden and grounds: Adults, £10; children (five to 16), £5. Loseley Park, Guildford GU3 1HS. Tel: 01483 304440. Web: loseleypark.co.uk

Speed freaks

Wings & Wheels

Near Cranleigh

A full aerial and ground assault on the senses, the spectacular Wings & Wheels does exactly what it says on the tin. On the August bank holiday, expect everything from the Red Arrows, state-of-the art fighter jets and air display teams to motoring stunts and vintage wheels to take to the tarmac and skies. What is more, all the action unfolds at the home of Top Gear, Dunsfold Park.

• Admission (on the day): Adults, £28; children (five to 15), £7. Dunsfold Park, near Cranleigh GU6 8HY. Tel: 01483 542226. Web: wingsandwheels.net

Brooklands Museum

Near Weybridge

Step back in time at Brooklands this summer and enjoy one of their spectacular events – from Supercar Sunday to the 10th anniversary of the Brooklands Concorde opening to the public to the Brooklands Reunion, an event celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first British Grand Prix held at Brooklands on August 7, 1926.

• Admission: Adults, £11; children (five to 16), £6. Brooklands Museum, Brooklands Road, Weybridge KT13 0QN.

Tel: 01932 857381. Web: brooklandsmuseum.com

The Supercar Event

Near Cranleigh

Now showcasing over 150 of the world’s most exclusive motors, The Supercar Event has welcomed everyone from new Top Gear host Chris Evans and musical star Elaine Paige to former F1 driver Max Chilton over the years. But it’s the cars and The Children’s Trust that are the stars at this weekend event on Saturday July 2 and Sunday July 3.

• Admission (on the day): Adults, £15; children (four to 16), £10. Dunsfold Park, near Cranleigh GU6 8HY. Web: thesupercarevent.com and thechildrenstrust.org.uk

Picnicking perfection

Winkworth Arboretum

Near Godalming

The National Trust’s only arboretum is renowned for being one of the best places in the country to witness autumn colour, but to be honest it thrives throughout the year. Head high for panoramic views or make your way down to the boathouse to drink in the reflections.

• Admission: Adults, £7.25; children, £3.60. Winkworth Arboretum, Hascombe Road, near Godalming GU8 4AD. Web: nationaltrust.org.uk

Waverley Abbey

Near Farnham

Closed for much of the early summer, apparently due to Tom Cruise visiting for the latest take on The Mummy film franchise, the atmospheric ruins of Waverley Abbey are now open to the public again. Pay a visit yourself to see the remaining fragments of the first Cistercian abbey in England, founded in 1128.

• Admission: Free. Waverley Abbey, Waverley Lane, near Farnham GU9 8EP. Web: english-heritage.org.uk

Mayfield Lavender

Near Banstead

(Amplifications & Clarifications: Having allowed picnics for the past six years, Mayfield Lavender has had to ban picnicking at their fields due to the increasing amount of rubbish left behind. Surrey Life apologises for any confusion caused by their inclusion in this section, originally published in July’s Surrey Life magazine. Mayfield Lavender remains open to visitors generally all summer.)

For a taste of Provence, head to Mayfield Lavender near Banstead (and enjoy their alfresco tea shop). For some, it remains a ‘hidden gem’ of a place that they’ve seen the pictures of and made a mental note to visit, so now is the time to put that right.

• Admission: £1 per person. Mayfield Lavender, Croydon Lane, Banstead SM7 3BE. Tel: 07503 877707. Web: mayfieldlavender.com

Swimming under open skies

Divers’ Cove


Hidden away in the picturesque countryside around Godstone, you’ll find the intriguing Divers’ Cove, a secret haven for scuba diving and outdoor fanatics in the east of our landlocked county that opens on weekends throughout the summer.

• Admission: £15 to join; £5 to swim; £10 a day to dive. Divers’ Cove, North Park Lane, Godstone RH9 8ND. Tel: 01883 336602. Web: diverscove.co.uk

Frensham Ponds

Near Farnham

Such is the popularity of Frensham Ponds throughout the summer that the car park is usually full by noon – so make sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment! While Frensham Little Pond is a hidden gem of a place (beautifully serene and relaxing), it’s at the Great Pond that the action happens: sailing and swimming from the sandy beach.

• £4 for car parking at the weekends. Frensham Ponds, Bacon Lane, Churt GU10 2QB. Web: waverley.gov.uk (for the Great Pond) and nationaltrust.org.uk (for the Little Pond)

Guildford Lido


These guys could have made it into our open-air cinema entry, too, with three dates in August featuring The Lion King, Dirty Dancing and Back to the Future (evening swimming is allowed before the films). However, the star of the show remains the sparkling pool under, hopefully, glorious blue skies!

• Admission: Adults, from £5; children, from £3.70. Guildford Lido, Lido Road, Stoke Park, Guildford GU1 1HB. Tel: 01483 449108. Web: freedom-leisure.co.uk


Photography competition!

Click here for details of this year’s Beautiful Surrey Photography Competition, which includes a £500 star prize, or post your pics at surreylife.co.uk/photos

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