Waterside escapes in Surrey - 10 of the best

PUBLISHED: 22:19 05 March 2012 | UPDATED: 19:48 20 February 2013

Waterside escapes in Surrey - 10 of the best

Waterside escapes in Surrey - 10 of the best

Always dreamt of living by the coast? Where's your imagination? In Surrey we have warm, sandy beaches (yes, really...), top quality watersports and some truly spectacular scenery

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine July 2011

Always dreamt of living by the coast? Wheres your imagination? In Surrey we have warm, sandy beaches (yes, really...), top quality watersports and some truly spectacular scenery

Head off for a swim
Opened in April, Thorpe Swimming Lakes, near Chertsey, brings together the opportunity to swim, bike and run as if you were living on the south coast. Open water swimming courses run all season, there is a caf and sauna for those looking for the more relaxed option, oh, and a man-made beach. Meanwhile, over in Guildford, their Lido was opened in June 1933 and welcomes over 60,000 visitors a year.

Fire up your adrenaline
Next door to the swimming lakes, youll find JBSki in Cherstey, where they offer water skiing, wakeboarding and cable skiing and some great obstacles to ride
over, including the brand-new for 2011 funbox dont ask! On the August bank holiday, they will be holding a Day at the Beach for an all-inclusive price of 36 you can enjoy two hours on the cable, a 15-minute banana ride, beach volleyball and a barbeque.

Recite a nursery rhyme
This years Guildford Boat Gathering, which takes place as part of Guildford Summer Festival every July, had the theme of nursery rhymes. Based around Millmead Island, Guildford, the decorated boat pageant, organised by the National Trust, is always a spectacle.

Go for a paddle
That most traditional of summer pastimes, nicely summed up in the Wind in the Willows as messing about in boats, why not hire yourself a rowboat from Guildford Boat House? Once youve worked up an appetite, you can always pop into The Boatman pub next door, although Guildford Boat House also offer Sunday lunch cruises on their Alfred Leroy boat.

Hire a boat
Running horse-drawn boat trips from Godalming Wharf during the summer, Godalming Packetboat Company offers travel along the River Wey in the Victorian style. Farncombe Boat House, also based in Godalming, offer plenty of cruising options too.

Settle down to spectate
If youd rather just watch, Kingston Regatta takes place every July. Over 275 races are held at the event that first took place in 1857. One of our greatest Olympians, James Cracknell, first started rowing at Kingston as a schoolboy at Kingston Grammar School and has supported the event in the past. Watch from the Riverside Walk, from the riverbank opposite, or buy tickets for the Enclosure, with the option of an alfresco lunch.

Join a rowing club
Why not join a rowing club if youre feeling restless? For over 150 years, Kingstons distinctive red and white stripes have been a familiar sight on the River Thames. Olympian Rebecca Romero began her career at the club. Meanwhile, currently captained by British Olympic gold medallist Andrew Triggs-Hodge, the Molesey rowing club in East Molesey is another with a long history. Others in Surrey include Burway, Guildford, Walton and Weybridge.

Take in a spectacle
Painshill Park in Cobham has done well with royalty just lately: not only did Prince Charles visit in May but the Trust that manages the park was honoured with a Queens Award for Voluntary Service at the start of June. Anyone who has visited recently will be aware
of how much the landscape has come along, and its lake is stunning on a summers day. There are other Surrey water gardens, too, including the National Trusts Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher, while the spectacular Busbridge Lakes, near Godalming, will be open on the August bank holiday.

Get lakeside
Surreys best-known lakeside retreat, Frensham Ponds is famed for its sandy beaches (oh, and the sailing), but to really get in touch with nature we asked Surrey Wildlife Trust for a recommendation. They gave us two. Newdigate Brickworks, a beautiful reserve located at a former clay pit and brickworks, and Spynes Mere, a wetland between Redhill and Nutfield created from restored sand workings. For more on both plus maps, visit www.surreywildlifetrust.org.

Set sail for Surrey
Interested in learning dinghy sailing, windsurfing or canoeing? Then Aqua Sports, which can be found at Mercers Country Park, near Merstham, could be the place for you. Looking like the south of France at times, walkers in the area are no stranger to watching a fleet of excitable students gliding around the lake. Similar facilities can be found at Albany Park Canoe and Sailing Centre, Kingston; Frensham Pond Sailing Club; Hawley Lake Sailing Club, Camberley;Island Barn Reservoir Sailing Club, West Molesey; and Papercourt Sailing Club, Ripley.

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