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Heading outdoors? Here’s what’s open

Painshill, Cobham


Painshill, the stunning 18th century landscaped gardens in Cobham, is now open. There are social-distancing requirements, obviously, which means the Grotto the upper floors of the Gothic Tower and the play ground will still be closed. But the good news is, the tea room is open for take-away food, and you’re also welcome to bring your own picnic. Tickets for entry must be pre-booked. Information on social-distancing requirements and bookings here.

Polesden Lacey, near Dorking

Polesden Lacey. Photograph by Nick Meers, courtesy of the National Trust

The car park, gardens and estate are open at Polesden Lacey from Wed 3 June but you’ll need to book tickets in advance. The stunning Edwardian manor – the former home of Edwardian hostess Mrs Greville – is set on a 1,400 acre estate, and dogs are welcome in parts of the garden and grounds. There’s plenty of space for rambling across the estate, including four waymarked trails, and beautiful landscaped gardens which are particularly lovely at this time of year especially the rose garden. Tickets are selling out quite a way in advance, so you may need to plan ahead. New tickets are released every Friday. Information and booking details here.

Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking

Denbies Wine Estate

While the visitors’ centre and facilities at Denbies Wine Estate are still closed, you can still visit and take in the beauty of the vines. Takeaway refreshments and snacks are available from The Hatch on the Lawn at Denbies from 10am-4pm. More information here.

RHS Wisley, near Woking

RHS Wisley. Photo courtesy RHS

The RHS gardens at Wisley have re-opened – just in time for the glorious summer season. And if you’re inspired by the 240 acres of beautiful manicured gardens – which includes the stunning Bowes-Lyon rose garden and lovely long mixed borders – you can pop into the on-site garden centre and stock up on some of your favourite plants for your own garden. There’s a booking system in place for the gardens, and places are booked for about two weeks in advance. Click here for booking details.

Alice Holt Forest, near Farnham

Alice Holt Forest. Photograph courtesy Forestry England

The car park at this 350 acre royal forest is now open for walking, cycling and picnics. There are four walking trails – one that includes a series of wooden sculptures carved into the characters from Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo series – plus and two cycling trails. The children’s play area is closed and the café is offering a takeaway menu only. Dogs are welcome on a lead. For info click here.

Ramster Garden, Chiddingfold

Ramster Gardens

The private Ramster Gardens open each year for only a short time and they’re well worth a wander. With more than 25 acres of gardens that includes woodlands, lakes and more formal gardens, the display is stunning at this time of year. And they’re open right now – for the National Garden Scheme – from 10am to 4pm and there’s no need to book. The tea house is closed, but takeaway teas and coffees, cake and ice-cream is on offer. Entry is £8 for adults, children under 16 free. More information here.

Box Hill, near Dorking

Great for scenic walks and stunning views, Box Hill is now back open. The Zig Zag Road and the car parks are open, but the shop, café and toilets will remain shut. There’s no need to pre-book your parking space, but charges do apply. Dogs are allowed, and there’s a nature trail that’s great for kids and a stepping stones walk which is a little more strenuous (we’re talking 275 steps). Here’s a map for those. And more info on the parking and location is here.

Hever Castle, Edenbridge

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, the 13th century castle and former seat of the Boleyn family set on 125 acres of gardens, has re-opened its grounds and gardens. All visitors will need to book a date and time slot online (including annual members), this is to limit numbers to protect everyone’s safety. Book your date and time slot here. 

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, Ockley

The beautiful gardens created in the early 1980s by Hannah Peschar are now open for visitors – but only if you’ve pre-booked. The gardens exhibit a changing collection of contemporary sculpture throughout the landscaped gardens which surround the 15th-century, Grade II listed Black and White Cottage. Entry is £12 for adults, £7 for children aged 5-16 and under 5s are free. Over 60s and students concessions are £8. Click here for booking dates and details.

Virginia Water Lake, Virginia Water

At the southern end of Great Windsor Park, right on the border with Berks, you’ll find Virginia Water Lake. There’s a lovely walk around the lake which takes in the impressive heights of the Cascade waterfalls and the ancient Leptis Magna ruins, but it’s also a good spot for a picnic. You can access the lake via the car parks at Savill Gardens, Virginia Water and Virginia Water South, which are now open to the public. The cafés are closed, as are the toilets and the children’s play areas. Picnics are permitted for members of the same household. Information here.

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1 comment on “Heading outdoors? Here’s what’s open”

  • Carole Timpson Wiltowski Wiltowski June 9, 2020

    Add the sculpture walks in Surrey Hills near Holmsbury etc.


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