The Great Surrey Staycation (and surrounding areas!)
The great Surrey Staycation is our blog topic this week. We’re blessed to be surrounded by some stellar countryside and we’re celebrating it during August.
Many people say the only reason they don’t holiday in the beautiful UK is because of the weather. Let’s face it, we really don’t have that excuse at the moment. There are no complaints about the wonderful sunny summer we have experienced so far this year! It’s really allowed us to plan our days ahead out in advance with the knowledge we’ll have a sunny day. Given that so many places require prior booking this summer, it’s been perfect to be able to plan ahead! As a family we’re happiest when we’re outdoors. Living in the beautiful Surrey Hills means that we are spoilt for choice. So many places to visit and enjoy in nature’s very own playground.
Emerging slightly out of lockdown, but with holidays abroad paused for the time being has meant that the whole Nourish tribe have been out and about enjoying all that the Surrey Hills has to offer. These are just a few of our favourite places. Spots where we like to set the kids free to let off steam and enjoy the outdoors.
The National Trust has it nobbled when it comes to easy days out with kids. 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 a beautiful covered bridge over this side of the estate that leads to a wildflower meadow. It’s great for that Instagram moment! On your way across the lawn we’d advise grabbing a few deckchairs. Just admire the picture perfect view, maybe take a picnic and have your very own #macaroonmoment!
The tree tunnel is a great place to cool down. It provides a lovely shaded walk to the playground, past the grass amphitheatre. There are often great interactive trails and activities 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.
Our other fave local NT places include Hatchlands, Claredon Gardens, Winkworth Arboretum and Chartwell. There are so many other places and NT walks local to us that we think if you live in and around Surrey you would be crazy not to be a member!
Due to covid-19 you have to book in advance. Those last minute trips to National Trust places are not possible as the popular places get sold out very quickly, but great to have something to look forward to.. We recommend booking first thing on a Friday morning. Then you shouldn’t have a problem securing a ticket for the following week for most places.
Holywell Retreat, Eastbourne
Even though we are staycationing, we still need to see the sea, right? If you are looking for a quieter hidden beach, (known as the locals beach, so don’t tell too many people!), then Holywell is just perfect! In just an hour we can be on this idyllic patch set at the foot of the South Downs. This quaint little section of coastline provides rock pools full of marine life at low tide. It’s perfect for the kids to explore, pretty Italian gardens and the dramatic chalk cliffs of Beachy Head. Bring your bucket and spade as there as some sandy patches amongst the stones so you may get lucky!
Priory Farm, Discovery Walk
An all year round firm favourite of ours is Priory Farm Discovery Walk. We were thrilled when they opened back up recently. Like most places now you do have to book, but you get an hour time slot and can arrive any time within that hour and stay as long as you wish. There are tonnes of things for the little ones to see, climb, swing on and explore along the way so they are always engaged the whole way around the trail. The café is also now open so you can head there after for the most delicious gluten and dairy free cakes. It’s also a café that has every alternative mylk you could wish for to have in your coffee!
Being a bunch of keen gardeners here at Nourish RHS Wisley is a perennial favourite of the team. The new bits of Wisley are stunning and create a real sense of excitement amongst the smalls when you arrive. The glasshouse remains closed at the moment but have you discovered the Stone Pine area? With gorgeous river views and wooden swing seats, it’s a picture perfect spot for a picnic.
When you’ve finished exploring here then a trip to the 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. Don’t forget your facemasks as you’ll need these anytime you need to go indoors here.
The Sculpture Park
Described as Surrey’s hidden gem this sculpture park is great if you are after something a little different for a few hours. A 2 mile trail takes you through 10 acres of enchanting woodland and water gardens with more than 600 large outdoor sculptures displayed along the way. The gardens are beautiful and lush at the moment and teeming with wildlife and plants. Enjoy Surrey’s best kept secret by booking online on their website.
Looking for somewhere to cool down or for a paddle in wellies. A few of our faves are Tillingbourne Stream which runs through the pretty village of Abinger Hammer. It’s an idyllic picnic spot too and has plenty of green space for kids to run free.
The bottom of Box Hill at the stepping stones is such an iconic and fun place to have a paddle. If you want to park at the bottom car park on a hot day then be sure to get there early on as the car park fills up quite quickly. Enjoy trying to make your way to the other side across the stones. Even if you aren’t doing the whole walk to the top then just walk across to the bridge for a game of pooh sticks.
We also love Surrey’s ‘secret’ sandy beach, Frensham Great Pond where it is sometimes possible to paddle and even swim. If you’re going in the water, check the latest advice on their website as swimming is currently prohibited due to blue-green algae in the pond.
The Peachy Playhouse Drive-In Loseley Park, Guildford
We’ve loved seeing clever businesses adapting to the ever changing world around us right now. We have seen lots of local drive in cinemas popping up around us. Our favourite has to be The Peachy Playhouse. They’ve got a packed schedule for this summer including lots of live events as well as cinema screenings. There is something for all ages. The line up includes West end meets Disney shows, Comedy, Ibiza Anthems nights, Peter Pan live and then film screenings of all sorts including The Greatest Showman, Monsters Inc, The Goonies and Frozen and much more! You rock up in your car and get your own little garden space to party in! Which is especially good in hot weather, or with restless younger children.
Coolings Green & Pleasant Nature Trail (Willows Birds of Prey Centre)
We discovered this place from popping into the Garden Centre once and seeing signs to a nature trail. Of course we were intrigued and had to check it out. We had no idea how many animals we would be able to see that were hidden just behind the shop and café.
The twenty-acre nature trail is a woodland setting full of wildlife and wild birds. It is an area of old nursery land previously used for growing specimen trees and now houses various animals. It’s a wonderful morning or afternoon out with children as its always fairly quiet (tickets now need to be booked ahead). You will be able to get up close to goats, chickens, wallabies, ferrets, rabbits, rare-breed pigs, chipmunks, alpacas, a falabella miniature horse, owls and birds of prey.
There are lots of gorgeous little coloured play houses dotted around the trail which the children love running in and out of and playing hide and seek behind. Since it is covered by wonderfully large trees it’s a great place to head to when the sun is out and you want to stay cool in the shade. Don’t forget to visit the fairy garden at the far end of the trail and make a wish!
We would love to hear if you know of any other wonderful less well known places that you could share with us. Whilst we love our old faves, we are always on the lookout for more exciting places to keep us going. Let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org
Whether you are staycationing locally, trying out another area of the UK, or jetting off on a plane this summer, we hope you take the time to relax and fully absorb the outside world that these strange circumstances we are in, has forced us towards more this year – something we are so grateful for!