New hobbies for 2015 in Surrey

PUBLISHED: 18:41 02 February 2015 | UPDATED: 19:50 02 February 2015

Try your hand at climbing at Craggy Island

Try your hand at climbing at Craggy Island


From knitting to pole dancing, there are some hobbies you may not have considered before that are far from niche concerns these days. Here, Matthew Williams shares some suggestions to keep you busy this year...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2015



A hub for the high-octane thrills of waterskiing and wakeboarding, the JBSki centre in Chertsey is the premiere water ski venue in Europe – host to two World Championships and the 2010 European Championships. Established for over 20 years, they offer coaching from beginners to advanced overseen by John Battleday – multiple European champion. Don your wetsuit and head to



Most of the county’s main towns have their large theatres, such as the New Victoria Theatre in Woking, the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford or Fairfield Halls in Croydon, but beyond these, Surrey is also home to a tier of smaller theatres that, between them, put on many productions each year and help ensure that our drama scene is thriving. The Courtyard Theatre, Chipstead; The Archway Theatre, Horley; The Nomad Theatre, East Horsley; Compton Little Theatre, Compton; and The Barn Theatre, Oxted are among those worth looking into, whether you’re interested in taking to the stage or just watching local players do their thing.


The world of photography has become far more accessible with the improvements in cameraphones and the like. But more pictures doesn’t necessarily mean better pictures. If you want to turn your point and click into something a little more professional, why not get in contact with one of your local photography groups? Surrey Photographic Association has acted as an umbrella organisation for local groups for over 50 years, so visit to find your nearest one.

Rock climbing

Surrey may not be renowned for its mountainous terrain but that doesn’t stop enthusiasts keeping in trim with top quality indoor climbing. With 100 rope lines of both lead and top rope climbing, plus their highly regarded bouldering wall, Craggy Island in Guildford is an amazing adventure for those just looking to hang around – it has a sister site in Sutton too. If you’ve got a head for heights, find out more at


When Staines Boat Club held a fundraiser for new club facilities recently, they not only hosted it at the Dorney Lake Olympic centre but also had a number of Olympians in attendance – such is the prestige of our county’s clubs. But they are not just for gold medallists you know. Check out the likes of Weybridge, Molesey and Guildford, as well as Staines, and you might be surprised by some of the names to have taken to the water in their boats. You could always try paddleboarding at Kingston, if you prefer something a little different!

Pole dancing

So pole dancing has changed in recent years and is now a popular form of all-round exercise taking place in village halls around our county. In Reigate, they’re not adverse to taking it outdoors either, with Reigate Pole Fitness often heading into the local Priory Park with their portable poles for a little charity fundraising. You may never have considered it before, but you’ll probably be surprised by how many people you know have given it a go!



Help to uncover Surrey’s past by joining the Surrey Archaeological Society, a group that has excavated and documented our county since 1854. While technology has sped ahead, the objectives remain the same and it’s easy to get your own hands dirty – with training digs held for beginners. The society are based at Castle Arch, Guildford and new members pay an annual subscription of £30 to receive the group’s publications (Collections and the Bulletin); have use of the Society’s Library; attend lectures, visits etc, usually at a discounted rate; and more. Find out more about the group at



For a landlocked county, there’s a thriving sailing scene based up on the Thames and in expansive reservoirs. Learn the ropes at the likes of Frensham Pond Sailing Club near Farnham; Aqua Sports at Mercers Country Park in Merstham; Albany Park Canoe and Sailing Centre in Kingston; Thames Sailing Club by Surbiton; and Papercourt Sailing Club at Ripley. There’s plenty more where those came from too…


No, no, no, please forget any of the old clichés about knitting being the preserve of the old and infirm. In fact, the modern breed of knitters are down right anarchic at times (!). If you’ve seen the Dorking Cockerel – or various other iconic Surrey sites - wearing novelty headwear, the chances are it’s been the work of a local guerrilla knitting group. Only in Surrey maybe, but a little bit of fun to brighten the day either way. One such group, Knit and Knatter, meets at The Gilliangladrag Fluff-a-torium (yes, really) every Friday in Dorking. Sessions cost £3 and more info can be found at


Bows and arrows is the new tees and greens – or something like that. Endorsed by local celebrity archers like chef Tony Tobin, broadcaster James Whale and actor James Cosmo, there’s nothing quite like heading into the woods to escape it all. In Oxshott, you’ll find Company of Sixty, which was founded in 1973 by a group of archers looking to promote the practice and competition of field archery, as well as the preservation and protection of the woodland and wildlife where it is practiced. Head over to to find out what they are all about, or visit to find your local club.


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