8 of the prettiest villages to live in the Mole Valley

PUBLISHED: 10:24 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:53 23 January 2018

Brockham. Picture taken by Julian Heath

Brockham. Picture taken by Julian Heath

Archant

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, the Mole Valley is one of the happiest districts in Surrey. The region is also home to some of the most rural and beautiful villages in the county. We pick 8 of the prettiest places to live in the Mole Valley

1. Abinger Hammer

One of three Abingers (the other two are Abinger Common and Sutton Abinger), the village is famous for its clock that juts out over the narrow road with the figure of Jack the Blacksmith striking the hour. Completed in 1909, the well-known landmark celebrates the role of the blacksmithing industry in the village’s past and was built in honour of Thomas Henry Farrer, who established much of the village.

Abinger Hammer is surrounded by flower-sprinkled meadowland, hidden woods and green hills – making it the perfect location for dog-walkers and hikers alike. For those interested in history, the village is home to several, grade-listed buildings and can be traced as far back as the Domesday Book where it is mentioned as Abinceborne.

2. Brockham

The small, chocolate box village of Brockham can be found at the foot of the North Downs, between Dorking and Reigate. The hamlet is scattered with beautiful period properties, and the large village green unites the tight-knit community with numerous events throughout the year (most famously, Brockham bonfire).

Brockham has featured in several adverts including a Jamie Oliver one for Sainsburys and another for kitchen towels that used the local cricket team as extras. It also appears in many calendars, the picturesque village green featuring as the archetypal Surrey village. But as for celebrities, the area is remarkably free of them.

3. Mickleham

Nestled in the Mole Valley, on the side of Box Hill, lies the charming little village of Mickleham. The village is steeped in history, and if you’re looking to move to the village, you can expect delightful period properties, attractive woodland views and short walks to two friendly pubs – The Running Horses and The King William IV, where you can enjoy rustic British meals and local ales.

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4. Betchworth

Nestled between the ruins of Betchworth Castle and the peaceful River Mole lies the charming village of Betchworth. As well as a tight-knit community, the village is home to a number of cosy pubs including The Dolphin, The Arkle Manor and The Red Lion, grade II listed Betchworth House and the Victorian grandeur of the Hartsfield Manor hotel.

Betchworth was famously featured in the classic comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the historic village retains plenty of olde worlde charm. Just down the road are the ruins of Betchworth ‘castle’ (more of a manor house in reality, but now part of the Deepdene Trail).

5. Ockley

Picturesque in its own right, Ockley boasts the spectacular Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden on its doorstep – a real ‘hidden’ gem for gardening inspiration. This village has a history of unearthing treasures: in 1983, an amateur fossil hunter discovered the almost intact skeleton of a previously unknown species of dinosaur there subsequently called Baryonyx walkeri (Baryonyx meaning large claw and walkeri after its finder). Baryonyx was a carnivorous, mainly fish-eating, dinosaur, about 30 feet long and with a long pointed jaw rather like a crocodile and large bear-like claws. The skeleton of the Ockley dinosaur is displayed at the Natural History museum.

6. Capel

Located close to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the idyllic village of Capel offers everything from nature trails to ancient gravestones and even Iron Age remains. The village has a Scheduled Ancient Monument – the remains of a large Iron Age Fort constructed in the second and first centuries BC. There are also plenty of lovely walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside.

To the east of the village is a nature reserve of 86 acres, The Dairy House Private Nature Reserve, which is crossed by public footpaths. A Designated Site of Nature Conservation Importance, the reserve has a number of nightingale nesting sites as well as superb flora and fauna.

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7. Westhumble

Westhumble is home to winding lanes, red-bricked cottages and period properties whilst the village’s rural location makes it a popular place for families to settle down in the countryside. Westhumble has its own train station and London Waterloo is just an hour away on the train – perfect for commuting to the capital.

There isn’t a lot to do in the village but perhaps that’s the nicest thing about it. Westhumble is a hotspot for ramblers as the Mole Gap Trail runs directly through the village with the North Downs Way just a stone’s throw away too.

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8. Leigh

If you like lots of wide open spaces and plenty of greenery, Leigh is just the village for you. Residents living here can benefit from the peace and quiet of rural village life whilst still enjoying the local conveniences of Reigate, Dorking and Charlewood right on the doorstep.

The Plough is the village local and can be found overlooking the green. The pub is one of the central meeting hubs for the village with a selection of home cooked meals on the menu and award winning ales behind the bar.

Also worth mentioning…

Friday Street

Yes we know we’re cheating a bit here as it’s more of a hamlet than a village but we couldn’t leave you without mentioning Friday Street – home to some gorgeous houses, scenic dog walks and one of the most secluded pub restaurants in Surrey, the Stephan Langton Inn.

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