Days out with kids – Adventure awaits!
As a family we’re happiest when we’re outdoors and being lucky enough to live in the beautiful Surrey Hills means that we are spoilt for choice with places to visit and enjoy natures very own playground.
I certainly find that being outdoors with kids is much easier than when they are cooped up indoors, I feel more relaxed and so do they. I also try and find just a little time to get out myself for some fresh air each day as I really find that it improves my concentration and stress levels. The Japanese call being out in the woods and the fresh air, forest bathing (shinrin-yoku). Forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.
This recent weather has meant that the whole Nourish team have been out and about enjoying all that the Surrey Hills has to offer. These are just a few of our favourite places where we like to set the kids free to let off steam and enjoy the outdoors at.
The National Trust have it nobbled when it comes to easy days out with kids and our ‘local’ Polesden Lacey is no exception. With acres of gardens and farmland to discover there is something for everyone. We love to head up through the formal gardens to the veggie patch to see what’s growing and then onto the chicken coop and bug hotel. There is also a beautiful covered bridge over this side of the estate that leads to a wildflower meadow, great for that Instagram moment! On your way across the lawn we’d advise grabbing a few deckchairs and just admiring the picture perfect view, maybe take a picnic and have your very own #macaroonmoment!
The tree tunnel is a great place to cool down and provides a lovely shaded walk to the playground, past the grass amphitheatre. There are often great interactive trails and activities on for kids in the holidays too, we had a go at making our own kites and then flew them on the lawn, great fun. There is also a good onsite café full of healthy options and treats.
Being a bunch of keen gardeners here at Nourish RHS Wisley is a perennial favourite of the team. The new bits of Wisley have been under construction for a while but this doesn’t distract from the glory of this amazingly well kept corner of Surrey. There is something for everyone but most of the time the small people want to head to the hothouse first. A place of forests and jungles if you’re small, it’s full of exotic planting, try and spot the banana tree! With the Jurassic trail on this summer holiday it might be a great place to spot the odd dinosaur too.
When you’ve finished exploring here then a trip to the expanding outdoor playground is next on the list, loads to keep the small people occupied from den building to a trim trail. Even better there is a snack bar that serves a decent cup of coffee for the grown ups! We love to head to the veggie gardens on the way back through the gardens for inspiration and the odd, ‘ours look better/worse’, than that comment. The café is good here but does get very busy over the holidays, we prefer to take a picnic to enjoy in a hidden shady spot and take advantage of the delicious organic ice cream stall on the way out.
Another National Trust favourite, quite different to Poleseden Lacey, Hatchlands has over 400 acres of dog friendly parkland and woodland surrounding it so there’s plenty of space to enjoy the great outdoors. The lawn in front of the main house often has space hoppers lying around for kids to use, we like to grab a seat and enjoy a few moments of relative peace while the kids entertain themselves.
After a quick refuel in the Courtyard Café we’ll head up across the parkland, past the beautiful cattle towards Wizard Wix’s Willow Warren and treehouse. Here there you’ll find wood for den building, willow tunnels, sculptures and even a totem pole, plenty to inspire play in young minds. We’ve just stared Geocaching and they are taking part here too, a great activity for older kids. We don’t normally head inside at National trust properties, little hands and all that, but here they have a super dressing up area in the main house. Getting dressed up as a Georgian appealed to all, young and old!
A great place to visit to inspire any budding young artists! The artist G F Watts and his wife Mary founded the Watts Gallery in Compton and the aptly named, Artist’s Village, is in a beautiful spot in the Surrey Hills. With one child that is hugely into art and one who isn’t at all we were concerned that this might have been a tricky trip. However, there really was something for everyone. The gallery kept everyone occupied for a while and then we enjoyed the interactive art trail around the woodland play area. You really can’t help but feel inspired while you walk around the village, it’s full of interesting sculptures, beautiful buildings and obviously for the arty ones amongst us plenty of inspiration. Visit on a Sunday morning and you’ll have an opportunity to try something new in the ‘make space’, we tried print making and all want to do it again! A lovely hidden spot of Surrey that’s worth discovering.
The Medicine Garden
We discovered the Medicine Garden after a wrong turn on the way home from Wisley and it’s now firmly in our sat nav, we need no excuse to head towards Cobham for a treat here. As little as 10 years ago this gorgeous spot was completely derelict and has been lovingly brought back to life by the owners. There is a great restaurant serving just the kind of food we like, freshly prepared and seasonal, in the restored hot house and also a great little cafe with a super selection of cakes.
The café spills out into the lovely garden, full of medicinal planting (see what you can spot), with a play area and plenty of places to sit and soak up the rays on a warm day. If you have small people who need to let off some steam, then a run around the circular planting should sort that out! There are also few small independent shops scattered around the central courtyard where you can buy everything from a fairy door to a piece of Scandinavian pottery! The team also run regular events that are as diverse as a mindful parenting course, moonlit cinema screenings or Pilates classes in their gorgeous geodesic dome.