The best outdoor spaces in Surrey to explore this autumn

Category: News

After a summer of freedom, the air is growing crisper and the nights are drawing in, but there’s still plenty of time to head out into the countryside and enjoy a revitalising walk in the fresh air.

In Surrey, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to outdoor adventures. The county is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the UK, many of which are steeped in history.

So, if you’re looking for some walking inspiration, here are the best outdoor spaces in Surrey to explore this autumn.

1. Runnymede and Ankerwycke

For woodlands, wetlands, and a taste of history, head to Runnymede and Ankerwycke near Windsor.

Almost 800 years ago, King John met with a group of barons on a small patch of countryside at ‘Ronimed inter Windlesoram et Stanes’ – Runnymede between Windsor and Staines – to seal the Magna Carta.

Today, Runnymede is home to the Magna Carta Memorial, the John F. Kennedy Memorial, and the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial.

And, just across the Thames at Ankerwycke, sits a 2,500-year-old yew, which is thought to be the oldest tree looked after by the National Trust. It is said to be the place where King Henry VIII courted Anne Boleyn.

2. Virginia Water Lake

Originally created as a Royal pleasure ground, Virginia Water is home to the largest man-made lake in Europe.

It features beautiful views, the popular Cascade waterfall, and a “Roman temple”. There’s also a towering 100-foot Totem Pole, which is much-loved by the lake’s younger visitors, making it perfect for a trip with the kids or grandkids this half-term

The flat circular walk is just under 7km and is popular among walkers and runners. Nearby is the Savill Garden – home to 35 acres of interconnecting gardens, walks, and woodland.

3. Painshill Park

Situated in Cobham, Painshill Park is an 18th-century landscape garden that describes itself as a “living canvas”.

With its stunning views, beautiful garden buildings, temple, and Serpentine Lake, you can easily spend a whole day here. If you book ahead, you can visit the Crystal Grotto, which is a magical, naturalistic cave with shimmering water and stalactites covered in crystals.

For children, there’s an outdoor play area with dens, balance logs, and stepping-stones.

4. Box Hill

For scenic walks and stunning views, head to Box Hill in the Mole Valley. It offers a mix of open woodland and chalk downland with incredible views of the South Downs.

Some of the highlights include Broadwood’s Tower, a mock-medieval tower built of flint; Salomon’s Memorial, a popular viewpoint; the grave of Peter Labilliere; and the stepping-stones across the River Mole.

Box Hill was used as the setting for Jane Austen’s novel Emma.

5. Polesden Lacey

Owned and run by the National Trust, Polesden Lacey in Great Bookham is one of the Trust’s most popular locations. The estate dates to Roman times and includes two working farms, ancient woodlands, historic farmsteads, and rolling downland.

There are several walking trails, including the “wellness walk”, which features inspirational quotes and poetry extracts at each viewpoint. The more challenging “big walk” takes you into the heart of Ranmore Common with views over Denbies Hillside.

6. The Sculpture Park, Farnham

The Sculpture Park in Farnham is the world’s largest all-year sculpture exhibition, with 300 sculptors showcasing around 650 modern and contemporary sculptures.

The works are predominantly set outdoors over a two-mile woodland trail, situated within 10 acres of arboretum and water gardens. There’s also a smaller indoor gallery.

Almost everything is for sale, which means the exhibits change frequently.

7. Winkworth Arboretum

Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming is a National Trust place with more than 1,000 types of trees and shrubs.

At the Boathouse, enjoy peaceful views of Rowe’s Flashe Lake.

Children and grandchildren will love exploring the Tree Adventure, with its rope tunnel, firemen’s pole, and climbing wall.

8. Nonsuch Park

Situated between Cheam and Ewell Village, Nonsuch Park was created in 1538 by Henry VIII to celebrate the 30th year of his accession and the birth of his son Edward.

Covering 250 acres, it features a large open space that is popular among families, dog walkers, and joggers. The main path, called “The Avenue”, is lined with horse-chestnut, beech, and turkey oak. Around 80 species of bird have been spotted in the park, including kestrels and sparrows.

At the centre of the park is Nonsuch Mansion, a Grade II-listed building that is now a wedding and corporate venue. At the back of the mansion are beautiful formal gardens with a rose tunnel, sundial, and impressive wisteria.

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