5 mins

10 things to do in Surrey during lockdown

The historic county of Surrey is blessed with a multitude of things to do outdoors. History, wildlife, gorgeous villages and amazing views can still be enjoyed during lockdown…

Winkworth Arboretum (Shutterstock)

1. Box Hill

Box Hill (Shutterstock)

Box Hill (Shutterstock)

This is one of the most popular spots in Surrey for walkers, cyclists and families, and for good reason. Part of the North Downs, there is a plethora of walks whatever your level of fitness.

There is plenty of parking at the summit, from which a short walk to Salomons Memorial will treat you to one of the best views of the Surrey countryside. 

The Zig Zag road to the top is popular with cyclists (Box Hill was on the route of the 2012 Summer Olympics cycling road race events), so drive carefully – or better still, cycle.

Box Hill is always popular, but it is even busier at the moment, so arrive early as the big car park is often full by mid-morning.  

2. Horsell Common

Horsell Common (Shutterstock)

Horsell Common (Shutterstock)

This is a privately owned area of common land – one of only a handful in England – but public access is allowed. It is a great place to explore without the crowds that some other Surrey sites receive.

Barrows (burial monuments) within the common indicate that early Bronze Age man lived in the area, which is why English Heritage considers it to be of national importance.

But the Common’s biggest claim to fame is ‘The Sandpit’ – the landing site of the alien spaceship in HG Wells’ novel, The War of the Worlds. It is frequently visited by sci-fi fans from around the world.

3. Hindhead Commons & Devil’s Punch Bowl

Devil’s Punch Bowl (Shutterstock)

Devil’s Punch Bowl (Shutterstock)

Legend has it that the Devil’s Punch Bowl was formed because the Devil tormented Thor, the God of Thunder, by leaping between hills. Thor would attempt to strike the Devil with thunder and lightning, while the Devil retaliated by scooping up the ground and throwing it at Thor – thus forming the Devil’s Punch Bowl.

This area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it will not take long for you to realise why. There are plenty of walks and wildlife. Gibbet Hill, the second highest point in Surrey after Box Hill, is nearby and also worth a visit.

4. Winkworth Arboretum

Winkworth Arboretum (Shutterstock)

Winkworth Arboretum (Shutterstock)

This early 20th-century arboretum was created by Dr Wilfrid Fox and is now managed by the National Trust.

As you walk along its trails, you can enjoy over 1,000 species of trees and shrubs, many of which are rare.

Spring walks here mean bluebells, magnolias and cherry blossom, while autumn brings striking oranges, reds and browns from Japanese, Norwegian and American maple. In winter, the boathouse looks picturesque in frost while mist hovers over the lake.

5. Leith Tower

Leith Tower (Shutterstock)

Leith Tower (Shutterstock)

Leith Tower itself is currently closed, which means you can’t take in the magnificent views at the top. However, the views across the Surrey countryside from the base is worth the walk.

Built in 1765, the top of the tower is the highest point in South East England, standing at 313 meters. If visibility is good you can see 14 counties.

This area in the Surrey Hills has been popular with visitors since Victorian times and a network of trails offer walks of different lengths and difficulties.

6. Waverley Abbey

Waverley Abbey (Shutterstock)

Waverley Abbey (Shutterstock)

Founded in 1128 by the Bishop of Winchester, William Gifford, Waverley Abbey was the first monastery built in Britain by the Cistercian religious order. Sitting by the River Wey, the abbey became the source of the Cistercian settlement in southern England.

Even though the Abbey is in ruins, it is still a wonderfully preserved site providing a glimpse into the history of southern England.

Access from the small car park to the abbey is easy and you can explore the ruins at your own pace. Just be aware of where you are stepping as adders have been seen in this area.

7. Shere

Shere (Shutterstock)

Shere (Shutterstock)

This Surrey village has become somewhat famous due to its prominence as a filming location. Hollywood blockbusters such as The Holiday and Bridget Jones were filmed here, and it is easy to see why.

The charming village has a picturesque 12th century church, a tearoom and two pubs. It’s also positioned perfectly next to a stream and surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Nearby, Silent Pool and Newlands Corner are also worth a visit.

8. Bourne Wood

Bourne Wood (Shutterstock)

Bourne Wood (Shutterstock)

Located near Farnham, this open heathland is dominated by coniferous trees. It offers some wonderful walks throughout the year, with great views of the surrounding pine forests. Its position next to a local RSPB reserve gives the added benefit of birdwatching.

This part of Surrey is also frequently seen in movies ever since the opening sequence of Gladiator in 1999 put it on the filming map. Since then, films such as Wonder Woman, Robin Hood and the Harry Potter franchise have been shot here.

9. RHS Wisley

RHS Wisley (Shutterstock)

RHS Wisley (Shutterstock)

This immense and beautifully presented garden in Wisley is the home of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). It’s a great place to explore on a walk.

The original garden was created by George Fergusson in 1878, and when Sir Henry Hanbury eventually presented it to the RHS in 1903, it was a fraction of the size it is today.

The grounds now cover 97 hectares and house one of the largest plant collections in the world. The huge variety of plants on display make RHS Wisley an ideal place to visit all year round.

10. River Wey

River Wey (Shutterstock)

River Wey (Shutterstock)

Spanning Surrey, the River Wey links Godalming with the towns of Guildford and Weybridge and subsequently to London. It opened to barges in 1653 and was the source of power for various mills along the river.

There are lots of trails covering different parts of the river and a towpath all the way. On the stretch between Pyrford and Ripley, see if you can spot the ruins of Newark Priory, a Grade I-listed ancient monument.

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