Days out with kids in and around Surrey
More than just a farm, Godstone Farm is a brilliant day out for kids of all ages with indoor soft play, a giant adventure playground, sandpits, tractor rides and of course lots of animals. The farm is located in beautiful open countryside just outside the village of Godstone and you’ll easily fill a whole day here.There are more than 50 animals at the farm including highland cows, reptiles, llamas, giant rabbits, horses, goats, pigs, chickens and more. Children can meet and feed the farmyard animals, and handle the rabbits and chicks. There’s a huge adventure playground with sand pits, zip wires, slides and climbing walls, as well as indoor soft play for those days when the weather isn’t so bright. There are also tractor rides, and a Dino trail to explore. A cafe serves food and drinks, and there are party barns for hire for birthdays or special occasions.
■ Godstone Farm, Tilburstow Hill Road, Godstone, Surrey, RH9 8LX
This National Trust property at Great Bookham near Dorking is a brilliant day out for the family. Set on a 1,400 acre estate it was once the country retreat of the Edwardian socialite Margaret Greville, and as well as walks aplenty throughout the grounds and gardens you can also tour the Edwardian manor house. It’s buggy friendly with plenty of paths, but it’s spread out – so be prepared with drinks and snack. There’s always a lot going on at Polesden with organised activities throughout the year for families and children – especially during the school holidays. For older kids, pick up the ’50 Things to do Before you’re 11 3/4′ and work your way through the activities. You’ll easily spend a full day at Polesden Lacey – and if you don’t fancy bringing your own picnic, there are two cafés where you can grab a bite to eat.
■ Polesden Lacey, Great Bookham, near Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6BD.
Unleash your inner Tarzan at the Wild Wood Adventures in Guildford. It’s the UK’s most extreme treetop and zipline adventure with more than 60 challenges to try. There’s Extreme Wild, a thrilling adventure of rope bridges, wobbly crossings, tightropes, climbing challenges, feindish obstacles and ziplines reaching up to 15 metres above the woodland floor. It’s for kids aged 11 and over (as long as they’re at least 140cm tall). For younger dare devils, there’s Wild Kids – aimed at kids from 6-12 – it’s easy enough to be fun, but tricky enough for a sense of achievement. Expect bridges, logs, zips from tree to tree, cargo nets, wobbly things, climbing walls and more. Wild Wood also has it’s own Zip Zone, designed for pure adrenaline-filled fun, with long, fast zip wires 15 metres high up.
■ Peacock Wood, Lido Road, Stoke Park, Guildford, GU1 1HB
This long established farm and farm shop sells home grown produce, local artisan products and imported fine foods – and is one of the best gourmet destinations in county. During the picking season you could easily spend several hours here picking strawberries and other seasonal veg. There’s a brilliant farm shop, as well as a cafe near the PYO fields, plus Eliza’s Tea Room. The extensive grounds are perfect for summer picnics and leisurely strolls.
■ Hurst Farm, Chapel Lane, Milford, GU8 5HU
Take it outside and way up high at the Skywalk Adventure in Esher, a treetop course full of zip wires, barrel crawls and fun activities. There are two courses to test your balance and bravery – both of differing heights – which makes it a great adventure day out for all ages. There’s a minimum age of 8 years and 1.3 metres.
Want to stay a bit closer to the ground? No problem – gather your tribe, strap on some skis and hit the slopes at Skywalk’s sister company Sandown Ski. There are four dry ski slopes for all abilities and a huge range of junior and adult ski courses.
Created in the 1700s by Charles Hamilton, Painshill landscape garden is a beautiful place to visit. Hamilton was inspired by Renaissance art and his tours throughout Europe, and the 158-acre gardens have been created with a sequence of breathtaking and surprising vistas. There’s a stunning man-made crystal grotto, and winding paths that take you to all corners, around and over a serpentine lake, and alongside vineyard plantings that produce sparkling white. Most of the paths are paved, so it’s very accessible. Dogs on short leads are welcome and you can bring a picnic – or visit Hamilton’s Tea Room.
■ Painshill, Portsmouth Road, Cobham, KT11 1JE
GoBoat is a fun self-drive boating experience on the Thames River – you’re at the helm so you can choose your own route. No boating experience is needed, they’ll teach you everything you need to know before you set sail. It’s a great way to see London and Surrey from a whole different viewpoint whether you head downriver towards Teddington Lock or along the Thames River to Hampton Court Palace passing Raven’s Ait and Thames Ditton Island. The boats are cleverly designed with a large picnic table in the middle for passengers to gather around – so it’s a super social experience. Sustainability is also valued, with 80% of the volume of the boat made from recycled plastic, and all wood sourced sustainably. Each boat fits up to 8 people, including children and dogs. As well as the Kingston GoBoat, there is also a base at Paddington in London.
■ GoBoat, Riverside Walk, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1QN
This unique arts gallery and artists’ village in the village of Compton near Guildford is dedicated to the life of the Victorian-era artist GF Watts and his wife Mary. There’s plenty going on here all year round. As well as the main Watts Gallery, there is also the Watts Contemporary Gallery where you can buy art for for sale, the Watts’ former home Limnerslease and Watts Studios which are also open for tours. The Artists’ Village regularly hosts workshops, courses and talks, and has a packed programme of family events, with something different to see and do every school holiday and The Make Space every Sunday (with fun arts and craft family activities to enjoy). There’s also a Tea Shop which sells lunch and cream teas. The Grade I listed Watts Chapel, designed by Mary and created by the local community, is also nearby.
■ Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, Down Lane, Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ
Little Street has centres in Frimley and West Byfleet in Surrey, each offering something slightly different with a variety of themed rooms. Children can drive around the streets in a miniature vehicle, go shopping in at the supermarket or meet their friends in the café. There’s a construction site for budding builders, and a medical centre where the vets and doctors of tomorrow can play out their roles. And for little pop stars and actors, there’s a theatre in which to perfect their performances. In Frimley, there is also a large air ambulance helicopter where children can be both pilot and medic, and West Byfleet have a train for children to play out roles as driver, conductor and passenger. Play sessions are timed at 90 minutes, and at the end of each play period, each Little Street is restored back to its original state so that the next group of children will enjoy the ‘wow’ factor. There’s also a cafe bar selling hot and cold drinks, cakes and snacks.
If you fancy a spot of fishing, but don’t know where to start – the team at We Fly Fish are a brilliant place to begin. We Fly Fish offers different types of lessons – for all ages and from the total beginner to those with experience including family and kids’ days out and half-days out. They suggest kids should be 10 years or over, so they’ve got the concentration and coordination needed – although it’s not necessary. There’s a lot to be said for enthusiasm. And everything you’ll need is included in the day out (equipment and permits) – so if you wanted to dip your toes in the fly fishing waters this would be the way to do it. Lessons are given by qualified professional coaches and guides at their locations in Surrey (Frensham Trout Fishery in Churt, Willinghurst Fishery in Wonersh and Halliford Mere in Shepperton) as well as in Sussex and in Hants.
■ We Fly Fish, various locations throughout Surrey, Sussex and Hants
Fancy a day out trekking with llamas? The Merry Harriers pub in Hambledon near Godalming has a herd of 12 lovely llamas and they offer trekking days out into the pretty Surrey Hills. There are a routes to suit all levels of fitness, with most treks averaging around 3 miles. They’ll cater to almost any occasion – options include The English Picnic, Winter Morning and Summer Evening Treks with the llamas carrying the picnic hampers and guiding you along the stunning local trails of The Greensand Way. The pub also has rooms, as well as luxury shepherds huts so you could make a weekend of it.
■ The Merry Harriers, Hambledon Road, Godalming, Surrey GU8 4DR