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Visit Surrey's Catherine Knight reveals her home truths

PUBLISHED: 16:32 11 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:19 20 February 2013

As the person in charge of tourism in Surrey, Catherine Knight is well-versed on the best places in the area for everything from a bike ride or pub lunch to a chocolate brownie...

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2009


As the person in charge of tourism in Surrey, Catherine Knight is well-versed on the best places in the area for everythingfrom a bike ride or pub lunch to a chocolate brownie...


What was it that brought you to Surrey in the first place?
I was actually brought up in Haslemere, until I left to go to university, and after 15 years away, I was drawn back to Farnham last year.


Whats your favourite thing about living in the county?
The sheer range of experiences in Surrey, because of the town, village and country elements. I can have my lunch in the castle grounds in Guildford; run in water meadows in the evening; go shopping at some lovely shops in Farnham, Haslemere or Guildford; enjoy a coffee at Grayshott Pottery; row lazily on the Wey in Godalming... The list goes on! Having the job to encourage other people to come and visit Surrey, and locals to discover whats on their doorstep, is perfect!


Is there anything you dont like?
I could mention the traffic and parking but We really could do with a few art house cinemas and to be nearer the sea!


Its Sunday morning and youve got the rest of the day free how would you choose to spend it?
My husband Sam and I love going for bike rides on Sundays. On our latest expedition, we went from Farnham, via Spreakley, Frensham Common and the ponds, on to Hankley Common with its reconstruction of the Atlantic Wall, along the Greensands Way to the Devils Punch Bowl and finally to Haslemere for well-deserved refreshments!


If you were heading out for a pub lunch, where would you choose?
Most people dont think of Surrey as having waterways but with the river Wey and the river Thames there are some great riverside pubs to enjoy. Surbiton has Harts Boathouse near Hampton Court or there is the Anchor at Pyrford Lock near RHS Wisley.


Its your husbands birthday coming up Where will you be taking him for a slap-up meal?
We recently came across an excellent Chinese, Keis, in Runfold. It had been a pub for over one hundred years so is a lovely old building with great food and nice friendly staff.


And your favourite place to read the paper with a coffee and a brownie?
The Lightbox in Woking is a great place for a coffee on a Saturday morning. The courtyard by the canal is a real sun-trap and away from the crowds shopping in the town centre.


You decide to go for a country walk Where would you choose?
With camera in hand, first stop would be what we call the Surrey everglades, part of the North Downs Way leading to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then the ruins of Waverley Abbey. Its a wonderful area to explore on foot, with ancient woods and heathlands, sunken lands, rural villages with little local pubs, like Puttenham and Shackleford, and spots to stop off such as St Marthas Chapel near Guildford, the Silent Pool towards Shere, and the beautiful town of Dorking.


Youre telling your friends about the county how would you describe it?
Actually, most of my friends have just recently experienced Surrey firsthand, dispelling any perceptions of suburbia, as I put on a bit of a Visit Surrey weekend for my wedding! We started at Arlington House in Guildford followed by a drive through the countryside to the Sculpture Park in Churt for drinks then some lovely food (as much from Surrey as we could) and a local band at the picturesque Lutyens Hall in scenic Tilford, where cricket was being played on the green. Later, we all stayed at the Bush Hotel in Farnham, a 17th century coaching inn. The following day, we put on a blue badge guided tour of the historic market town of Farnham (slow with lots of ice cream stops) taking in the castle keep! The Americans and city folk loved it and everyone was very pleasantly surprised at how rural Surrey is.


Whats your favourite hidden treasure in the area?
The Sculpture Park in Churt. With over 200 sculptures in ten acres of mature pine woods, it changes with every season and is a really calm place to discover. My friends with children like it, too.


Okay, so there are some things that arent so great.. What do you think is the biggest issue facing the area today?
Sustainable transport is obviously an issue in Surrey. When you think about London, where you can get anywhere and everywhere by public transport, we have a long way to go. It would be great if the direct train route from Farnham to Guildford could be re-established on the timetable.


Finally, if Surrey had a symbol, what do you think it should be and why?
A coin, one side a countryside image and the other side a town landscape.

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