Summer holidays are in full swing and holiday camps are a go-go, but are you tired of the same old playgrounds and farm parks? Want to escape with your family to somewhere a little more wild, but just as fun? From shady woodland to sandy beaches, we review some of the top spots to get outdoors in Surrey and go wild with your family.
Hills in Surrey
1) Box Hill, Tadworth, KT20 7LB
Managed by the National Trust, and now famous for being part of the 2012 Olympic road racing event, Box Hill is the summit of the North Downs. If you fancy a day out kite flying or blowing the cobwebs away with a hilly walk and a top-of-the-world view this is the place to come. Orchids and butterflies are easy to spot here too. The site has an excellent natural play area, café and multiple self-guided walks that make exploring the big outdoors easy for all ages.
Woods in Surrey
2) Staffhurst Woods, Grants Lane, Oxted TN8 6QR
Ancient Staffhurst Woods is one of the best places in the UK to see bluebells in spring, though it is very pretty all year round. The woods are remains of the old ‘wildwood’ which covered much of old England in Saxon times. The Woodland Trust have created a self-guided woodland walk of around 3 miles long that is wheelchair and pushchair-accessible. Parking is available at two sites. The Grumpy Mole pub is just down the road for a well-earned lunch afterwards.
3) Alice Holt Woodland Park, Farnham GU10 4LS
A stalwart favourite with families, Alice Holt Woodland Park can be as high octane or relaxed as you like. There are bikes to hire, a play and habitat trail to follow, horses to ride, and walking paths to explore. Alice Holt is managed by the Forestry Commission.
4) Limpsfield Common, Ridlands Lane, Oxted, RH8 0TW
Rustic and enchanting, the rangers and volunteers of the National Trust have built several ‘Peter Rabbit’ houses and wooden dens for children to find and explore. A short walk takes in the houses and there is a welcome tree swing mid-way for all to enjoy. Take a picnic as there is no café at the site. Parking is available.
Beaches in Surrey
5) Frensham Great Pond, Churt, GU10 2QB
It may be man-made but it’s no less fun. Frensham Great Pond is in the depths of rural Surrey, but its beach happily mirrors that of one right on the coastline. Built in the Middle Ages to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester, it now hosts calm waters, shallow edges, plus many shady walks to take in the woodlands around the pond. Parking is available as is a café and a small museum.
Parks in Surrey
6) Chipstead Downs, Holly Lane, Banstead, CR5 3NR
Engage your make-believe and walk through a wardrobe into the land of Narnia. Chipstead Downs and Banstead Woods have recently carved out C.S. Lewis’s magical world into a nature trail. Children can meet many of the characters from the story including Aslan the lion. This new feature marks the launch of the Downs as a Local Nature Reserve, for its preservation of ancient woodland and chalk grassland – both rare and in decline across the UK.
Waterways in Surrey
7) Wey and Arun Canal, Loxwood, RH14 0RH
Billed as ‘London’s lost route to the sea’, the Wey and Arun Canal originally provided a route from London to Portsmouth for goods travelling to and from the dockyards. The Canal links up the waterway from Guildford to Pulborough. Although derelict until 1970, it now is one of prettiest places to go walking or cycling (traffic free) in Surrey, and an abundance of wildlife can be spotted including herons and kingfishers.
Heathland in Surrey
8) Wisley Common, Old Lane, Cobham, KT11 1NA
A very special 800 acres of lowland heath and woodland that is home to many rare birds and a wide range of aquatic life, including dragonflies and damselflies. A wonderful place to explore for the bug and bird lovers in the family. There is a useful café with baby changing facilities and parking located off Old Lane.
9) Chobham Nature Reserve, Staple Hill Road, Chobham GU24 8TU.
Chobham Common is the largest nature reserve in the southeast of England and one of the best places to spot a variety of creatures big and small. In this ancient landscape you are likely to see insects, spiders, birds, deer and foxes, as well as swathes of purple-flowering heather or coconut-perfumed gorse.
Old railway tracks in Surrey
10) Downs Link, runs from St Marthas Hill in Surrey down to Steyning in West Sussex.
This 37 mile old railway route is traffic-free heaven for walkers, cyclists and horseriders. As it’s a mainly level route it’s great for younger cyclists. Exciting nature finds include bats and glow worms. The route links the North Downs Way to the South Downs Way. There are multiple entry points onto the route including St Martha’s Hill and West Grinstead.