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If you enjoy gardens and gardening then the Royal Horticultural Society's Headquarters at Wisley in Surrey is probably already on your 'Must see' list of places to visit. There are all kinds of gardens here, formal and non-formal, tropical in the greenhouses and temperate ( well they're just outside). I enjoyed the vegetable gardens with some of their new varieties and their exhibits on ways to encourage the use of composting. Also the greenhouses with the Alpine plants are really good although some of the labelling can be a little obtrusive ie small plant but large tag because of long Latin name.
It's reasonably easy to get to if you have a car as it is just off Junction 10 of M25 travelling south on the A3 towards Guildford. Parking is free. See the website for details of public transport.
If you're an RHS member entry is free but for others adults are charged around £10, children about £4.00.
If you pick a good day when the weather is bright and warm then you could easily spend the whole day here exploring the entire set of gardens and exhibitions.
Listen out for the Ring-necked Parakeets - they're hard to ignore but good to watch.
Written May 15, 2011
If, like me, you're very keen on wildlife you may like to sign up for a weekend field study course based at Juniper Hall a mile or so north of Dorking and next to the beauty spot of Box Hill.
The 17th century Hall is owned by the Field Studies Council which is an educational trust dedicated to serving the interests in environmental education. When I arrived there in April 2011 there had been a special needs school party staying for the week and another group of sixth form students doing their ecology fieldwork for 'A' level Biology in just two days.
I was on a weekend residential course learning about bird surveying techniques run by the British Trust for Ornithology. There were 9 enthusiasts all wanting to know more about different surveying methods which of course involved some practical fieldwork up into the woods opposite the Hall. It was a very enjoyable weekend and I must say I learnt a great deal; not just about surveying but also about identifying birds by their calls and song. Our course leader was superb - a real expert and she kept us all going with her enthusiasm and lively spirit.
The accommodation was fine - not quite hotel standard because there was no en suite but my room was perfectly comfortable and well equipped. There was at least a small wash basin in my room and I greatly appreciated the kettle and tea making facility.
Food was plentiful and whilst not haute cuisine it was fine, given the cost of the weekend package. No one went hungry as we had 3 big meals each day - lunch was provided by way of make your own sandwiches - They provided an array of fillings. Breakfast was hearty and evening meal a 3 course feast.
The hall has a small bar where we ended up sharing stories of various wildlife experiences each evening.
For more details about the range of wildlife and environmental courses available from Juniper Hall you should visit their website below.
Written May 13, 2011
Address: Juniper Hall Field Centre, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6DA
Phone: 0845 458 3507
Although many consider this place to be part of Greater London, I think Surrey should get the credit for this. In my mind, Hampton Court is a "must see" for England. Those who would like it best are architecture buffs, history buffs, people who enjoy garden strolls, and most children. There are many stories to tell about what went on behind those walls. Of course, Henry VIII and his wives gets the spotlights. However the King James conference regarding translating the Bible into English also took place here. William and Mary also made their mark here. Hampton Court has it all: extensive gardens, a maze, several state apartments, the best look at palace kitchen life I have ever seen, ghost stories, and the grandeur expected from a palace. I think this palace deserves the same level of attention that Buckingham Palace or Windor Castle receives. By far, this makes an excellent day trip from London.
Certain tours typically stop here, however I enjoyed taking the train here and going at my own pace. It is very easy to travel from London by train. Trains depart from Waterloo Station and take a little more than half an hour to reach the Hampton Court stop. Once at the train station, it is a quick walk across the bridge. The palace is immediately on the other side of the Thames.
The palace should make a fun visit for people of all ages since there is so much to do here. Uniformed people are on hand to answer questions and explain various aspects of palace life. Audio tours are also available and are included with the ticket price.
See my travelogues regarding a little more about the gardens and the architecture.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
When I was young I visited Hampton Court a few times. The Palace was inhabited by Henry VIII. The garden has been transformed into a life size maze, using the hedges as walls, many visitors come here to get lost.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
There's a very nice park close to my old school, called Beddington Park. Its great for unwinding in. The River Wandle runs through it and there are many nice bridges. There are also tennis courts and a football pitch on one side, although officially you are not allowed to play footy, I've never seen anyone check. I never enjoyed Beddington park when I was school, cos I was made to do cross country running here, I hated it!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Clear water trickles into Silent Pool from a spring that filters through the chalky hillside of the North Downs. The pool has an eerie green/blue tinge about it caused by the minerals it picks up on its journey.
Fish swim in the pool’s tranquil water and birds aplenty frequent the area.
The pond was originally put in place in the 1600s to service the nearby village of Albury.
Legend from Saxon times tells the story of a young maiden who was bathing in the pool who was startled by a passing horseman, o some believed this horseman was Prince John, Regent of Britain. The young maiden drowned as she tried to wade deeper to escape his eyes, it is said her ghost appears at midnight.
Written Aug 12, 2008
Address: A25 Shere Road between Guildford and Dorking.
Weybridge is a town in Surrey in South East England.
On its North side sits the River Thames, Weybridge is at the mouth of the River Wey, from which it gets its name.
It is a suburb in the London commuter belt, and the some of the housing is expensive: as of 2008, six of the ten most expensive streets in South East England were in Weybridge.
Weybridge is made up of a number of distinct areas: town centre shopping area, Monument Hill / Queens Road shopping area, St George's Hill, Brooklands and Oatlands Village.
Updated Jul 4, 2008
We had passed the entrance to this place many times (it's only a mile from our house), but we never realized what a lovely site it is or how beautiful the gardens are in the summer. We finally got there in late June, 2008 and were amazed! It isn't too easy to reach without a car, but the Dorking Station is only about a 10 minute cab ride away. This is the former home of Lord Beaverbrook, a newspaper magnate. He often had his friends Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill to Cherkley for visits.. especially Churchill during WWII when Beaverbrook was Minister for Aircraft Production and part of the War Cabinet.
Cherkley has over 400 acres of park, gardens and woodlands, and the views over the Mole Valley are outstanding.
Written Jun 30, 2008
Address: Near the A24 between Leatherhead and Dorking
Phone: 01372 380 980
Situated by the River Wey, in the 18th century the Maltings were a tannery then later in the 19th century it became a maltings and brewery and closed in 1956. Nowadays it is a theatre, a warren of artists studios and Riverside Cafe. We were here to see an art exhibition.
Updated Mar 11, 2007
Address: The Maltings
Leith Hill can be found south of Leatherhead and not too far from Effingham and Dorking. It's the highest point in SE England, and the views are spectacular on a clear day. A tower was built there and it's a common meeting place for cyclists out on a weekend jaunt or for those who like a bit of walking and hiking. A few paths lead up to the top of the hill - one is an easy climb and not steep at all. There are also several car parks at the bottom (this is a National Trust site). Nearby are the rhodoendron gardens I also have photos of.
Updated Aug 21, 2006
Address: Leith Hill Lane, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking, Surrey
Phone: 01306 711777