National Trust riverside sites in Surrey
PUBLISHED: 15:29 24 November 2011 | UPDATED: 19:43 20 February 2013
While Surrey is undeniably a land-locked county, there are still plenty of local places where water-lovers can enjoy 'messing about on the river', many of which belong to the National Trust. Here, Emma Brien provides a few suggestions
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2011
While Surrey is undeniably a land-locked county, there are still plenty of local places where water-lovers can enjoy messing about on the river, many of which belong to the National Trust. Here, Emma Brien provides a few suggestions
Claremont Landscape Garden, Esher
This spectacular 18th-century garden is centred around a large lake, surrounded by trees and plants teeming with wildlife. Birdlife is prolific and varied, with brightly coloured naturalised parakeets in the trees overlooking several species of waterfowl including geese and ducks. The lake and surrounding habitat are ideal conditions for such birds, which are carefully monitored by the Claremont team. Visitors can also purchase bags of food for the birds and there are regular events when the public can learn more about the waterfowl living in Claremont Landscape Garden.
River Wey and Godalming Navigations, Guildford
This stretch of the River Wey was one of the first British rivers to be made navigable; transporting barges from Guildford to Weybridge and on to the river Thames since 1653. The Godalming Navigations opened the following century, allowing barges to come ever further upriver with their trade. Largely used for leisure purposes now, the river offers visitors superb views and tranquil towpath walks. Planned walks and events run throughout the year, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to learn about the waterway running right through the heart of Guildford.
Dapdune Wharf, Guildford
The award-winning visitor centre at Dapdune Wharf tells the story of the navigations and the people who worked there. Visitors wanting to learn more about trading on the river can see where the huge Wey barges were built, and even climb aboard Reliance one of three surviving barges. The National Trust also runs regular school and child-friendly activities at Dapdune Wharf. Last but certainly not least, families can also enjoy a spot of pond dipping in the creek or take a short trip down the river aboard an electric launch (conditions permitting).
Shalford Mill, Shalford, near Guildford
This small, timber-framed watermill on the River Tillingbourne in the village of Shalford is one of Surreys hidden gems, carrying a fascinating history of a forgotten industrial age. The mill was powered by a giant waterwheel until 1914 and the wheel and internal machinery remain well-preserved. In 1932, funds to purchase Shalford Mill were presented to the National Trust by the Ferguson Gang: an elusive group of philanthropists, whose eccentric fund-raising methods and almost exclusively aristocratic female membership made it the topic of much speculation. Shalford Mill is open on Wednesdays and Sundays from early April until October, as well as during National Mills Weekend on Saturday May 7 and Sunday May 8.
Ham House, Ham, near Richmond
While not having any significant areas of water to boast of within its grounds, this 400-year old house is set on the banks of the River Thames in Ham, close to many other riverside houses and palaces, not least Hampton Court Palace. Once visitors have admired its rich interiors and historic gardens, they can then enjoy watching the river boats drift peacefully past. In such a lovely setting, it is hardly surprising that so many films and TV series have used Ham House as a location. Examples include the 2009 period film The Young Victoria, as well as an appearance in Merchant Ivorys Remains of the Day in 1993.