Some of the best things to see and do in Haslemere
PUBLISHED: 16:13 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 20 June 2019
Andy Newbold Photography
Surrounded by pristine countryside, Haslemere has long been a sought-after destination for creative people and city folk looking to enjoy a peaceful countryside haven. With independent shops, gorgeous country walks and the Haslemere Hounds on the loose this summer, it’s a must-visit
Found down leafy country lanes at the south westernmost point of Surrey, where our county's green slopes meet the hills of Sussex and Hampshire, Haslemere's position on the frontier means it has developed its own unique character and taste for independents.
Throughout history, Haslemere has attracted high-profile figures looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of 'city' life and into the boundless inspiration that can be found while living in the Surrey Hills.
Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson and French-born musician and instrument maker Arnold Dolmetsch are just a few of the famous names to be associated with the town and its much in demand surrounding villages.
The area played a pivotal part in the founding of the National Trust too. Sir Robert Hunter, one of the charity's co-founders, lived in the town and shortly after forming the trust in 1895, he organised a public subscription to purchase much of the land at Hindhead Commons. Only a short drive away, the commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl are among Surrey's most alluring beauty spots today.
You don't even need to get in the car, however, to discover idyllic National Trust walks. The delightful Swan Barn Farm Walk starts from Well Lane, only a few steps off the High Street.
Back in the town centre, you'll find Haslemere Educational Museum, which is said to be one of the largest geological, natural history and human history museums in central southern England with over 380,000 artefacts in its collection. As well as rooms full of inspiration and history, the gorgeous grounds host a number of community events. Last year, the museum celebrated its 130th anniversary.
While walking Haslemere's streets, it's no exaggeration to say that you'll find some of the very best independent shops in our county. There's the brilliant book lover's dream that is The Haslemere Bookshop; the fabulous women's fashion boutique Woodie and Morris; the colourful and cool Hemingways coffee shop; Seabright's butchers, which sells Surrey Wildlife Trust conservation beef as part of its delicious offering; and plenty more where they came from. Haslemere Farmers' Market takes place on the first Sunday of every month too.
Suffice to say, Haslemere is a brilliant place to stay and base a weekend exploring the local area. Just outside the town, the historic Lythe Hill Hotel is a charming hotel, spa and restaurant with grand ambitions, while The Station House is perfect for a more informal stay.
From here you can easily visit beautiful Surrey villages including Chiddingfold, Brook and Grayshott. If you can bring yourselves to do it, you can pop over the border to Sussex and the likes of Petworth and Midhurst. There are also attractions, such as Grayshott Pottery and its Kiln Café, Applegarth Farm's shop and restaurant and Blackdown Ridge's vineyard tours to discover on the doorstep.
First came Haslemere Hogs, then came Haslemere Hares and in 2019 you may well bump into Haslemere Hounds if you're passing through the town. This community arts project not only helps to brighten up the area but has also raised thousands of pounds for local and national good causes since its inception. The project sees local artists and schools decorate around 100 fibreglass creatures, which are then displayed publically over the summer months.
24 hours in…
- Morning - From all day breakfasts and sweet pancakes to turbo charged salads, start your day with a bite to eat and your favourite coffee at Hemingways Coffee Shop. If the weather is favourable, you can relax al fresco and watch the High Street flow by. Then it's the perfect opportunity to explore some of the town's independent shops - there are plenty to choose from and you're sure to find a unique gift or treat among their wares.
- Afternoon - You can't really visit this area and not take in the magic of Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl. If you're feeling active, it's a three-mile walk or cycle from Haslemere, but it's also accessible by bus and the pay and display parking is £4. You could easily while away an afternoon there and enjoy a picnic, but if you're trying to take in as many sights as possible then there are plenty of excellent village pubs in the surrounding area.
- Evening - Check out the latest films, theatrical performances and live music at Haslemere Hall or settle down for a meal at The White Horse, The Station House or Lythe Hill's. You're sure to find something to suit your tastes.
- Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl - Since the Hindhead Tunnel opened in 2011, Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl have returned to their spectacular best. Depending on the time of year, it's a colourful mosaic of purple, greens and gold, you can easily lose yourself for the day admiring the views in this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Gibbet Hill, which is found among the many walking routes, is the second highest point in Surrey and offers views across the Weald.
- Lythe Hill - Just outside the market town, the 22 acres of woodland, former farm house and outbuildings that make up Lythe Hill create their own picturesque hamlet. The grade II listed Tudor farm house dates back to 1475 and hosts the estate's The Restaurant, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea or a three-course à la carte dinner. Their Amarna Spa is an oasis of tranquillity and offers the luxury treatments you'd expect from a top Surrey spa.
- Dylan's Ice Cream - While founder Ben Govier produces his ice cream over the Hampshire border at Manor Farm in Langrish, Dylan's Ice Cream is synonymous with Haslemere. And, as the weather sizzles, their Milk Barn ice cream parlour and coffee shop at Junction Place is a must visit. With their focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients bursting with flavour and with nothing nasty added, these ice creams are an indulgent treat with no guilt attached.
- Haslemere Educational Museum - Originally founded in 1888, as a small private museum in a local garden, by Sir Jonathan Hutchinson, Haslemere Educational Museum now boasts extensive grounds as well as three large permanent galleries and two temporary exhibition rooms. The esteemed Sir Jonathan was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, President of the Hunterian Society, the Pathological Society and the Ophthalmological Society as well as Professor of Surgery and Pathology in the Royal College of Surgeons, but wanted to create a collection for the local people of Haslemere.
- Swan Barn Walk - Only moments off the High Street, you could easily miss Swan Barn Farm if you didn't know it was there. It's a tranquil haven for a picnic or a light lunchtime stroll, but also a door to major countryside walks in the area, including the 64-mile Serpent Trail, Sussex Border Path and Greensand Way. The National Trust's long-term volunteers live in a specially designed eco-house here, built with locally sourced, sustainable wood from the Black Down Estate.
- Where to go for a stroll in Surrey - With beautiful countryside, stunning villages and plenty of bluebells during spring, Surrey is an amazing place for a stroll