Poor, old February. Often thought of as the month of despair. However, there are a surprising number of treats to look out for and enjoy even in these dark, dreary days of winter. Scratch beneath the surface and there is life everywhere. Days are lengthening and there is a smell of spring and new beginnings in the air, so dig out the wellies and thermals and go on a new walk. Find a cracking pub at the end. Happy days.
Painshill Park is an pretty 18th century landscaped garden and lake based near Oxshott and Cobham in Surrey.
Set in 200 acres of peaceful ancient woodland, Toy’s Hill is a idyllic place to come for a short walk. The area forms part of the Lower Greensand Ridge and is the highest point of the Kent Downs, meaning glorious, rewarding views can be found across the Weald of Kent.
There are a few different options walk wise ranging from a half a mile pushchair-friendly option to 6 miles of tramping through Chartwell country. The pushchair route is a nice half hour amble. There is a good viewpoint at the site of the old Weardale Manor plus a couple of dens for the kids to explore.
The 145 room Weadale Manor site is fascinating. All that is left now is the line of one wall but you can imagine how stately it would have been in its time. It was built in 1906 by Lord Weardale, a former MP and opposer of war and suffrage. After his death in 1923 his wife rarely visited, preferring to stay up in London. After her death in 1934 it fell into a state of disrepair and was demolished in 1939. Just 33 years of use.
The natural landscape has also been influenced by history. The old economy at Toy’s Hill was based upon charcoal burning, churtstone quarrying and livestock, and its mark can still be seen on walks here. Charcoal pits and quarries can be found and many of the ancient trees have been pollarded, which was done for grazing purposes.
Toy’s Hill contains plenty of nature for little ones to spot including bats, dormice, grass snakes, woodpeckers, bluebells, stag beetles and marigolds.