What better way to make the most of the school holidays than by getting out to your local National Trust place? The National Trust on the Surrey Hills looks after lots of top spots for picnics, woodland adventures, natural play, den building and bug hunting. With cafés serving hot lunches, sandwich boxes and treats of hot chocolate and delicious home made cakes, there’s a great excuse to sit in the early spring sunshine too! All of our outdoors places are dog-friendly, and all have car parking close by. National Trust members park for free.
Here’s the low-down on what to do and where:
Explore Reigate Hill’s very own fort
Built in the 1890s, the fort at Reigate Hill was built as one of a line of defences to protect London should an invasion by the French occur. Walk around the parade ground and peep into the dark buildings which were used to store weapons and ammunition for volunteer troops. Walk the ramparts where the only invaders these days are sheep – do stop to admire the views on this stretch of the North Downs as they are truly magnificent. A little walk on from the fort is Memorial Glade, the site of a Second World War plane crash. Car parking at Wray Lane car park (not National Trust) RH2 0HX, or at Margery Wood car park KT20 7EJ. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/reigate-hill-and-gatton-park
Check out an enchanted flower forest at Leith Hill’s Rhododendron Wood and climb to the top of Surrey
The Rhododendron Wood was planted in the 1800s by Caroline Wedgwood who lived at Leith Hill Place. There are some ancient plants here, some of which flower as early as February. Look out for their rich red flowers and large waxy green leaves. Don’t miss the giant redwood trees either – too big for a hug, but do marvel at their soft bark. If you’re feeling energetic, cross the road and head up the hill to Leith Hill Tower to enjoy the highest spot in the south east of England. If it’s a clear day, from the top of the tower you can see the London skyline to the north and the sea sparkling through Shoreham Gap to the south.
Car parking at the Rhododendron Wood car park RH5 6LU or Starveall Corner (not National Trust) RH5 6LU.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/leith-hill-tower-and-countryside
Build a den and complete Box Hill’s Natural Play Trail
Box Hill’s natural play trail takes you deep into the yew woodlands of Surrey’s iconic landmark. Stop off en-route at the den building area, or head along the path to see how many of the play features you can have fun on. Much of the play trail follows a buggy-friendly track, but some sections can get a bit muddy when it’s rained. Pick up a free 50 things trail from the shepherd’s hut and see how many adventures you can have along the way; dress for mess and warm up afterwards at the Box Hill café – there’s plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, or bring along a picnic and admire the view of the Weald from Salomons viewpoint. Car parking at Box Hill main car park KT20 7LB, free for National Trust members. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/box-hill
Bike or scoot at Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl
Follow the path above the old route of the A3 at Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl – a good spot to try some bike riding or to test your scooter skills. Spot the Sailor’s Stone and the Gibbet Cross and look out for well-camouflaged ponies as they gently graze on the heather and gorse. Head to the visitor hub by the café to pick up a walks guide, or to borrow a free tracker pack. Our café serves delicious children’s lunches, hot dishes, home made cakes and a variety of drink-in and takeaway hot drinks. There’s plenty of inside and outside seating too – you can even borrow a blanket to keep your knees warm. Car parking at GU26 6AB, free for National Trust members.
Visit the beach in Surrey at Frensham Little Pond
Frensham Little Pond boasts its own glorious stretch of sandy dunes – take your shoes off and wriggle your toes in the soft yellow sand. There’s a wonderful circular walk around the little pond which takes you through a tapestry of habitats from heathland to woodland, with ponds and streams to enjoy along the way. The Tern café serves a range of hot and cold snacks, drinks and ice creams and has plenty of outdoor seating. Sit quietly a while in the bird hide and see what you can spot – maybe some early migratory birds? Car parking at GU10 3BT, free for National Trust members.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/frensham-little-pond