Last weekend, we took ourselves further a field, leaving Sussex completely, to explore Boxhill in Surrey. For Sharon, this is familiar ground as she grew up in Redhill, and went to school down the road in Dorking, but for me and T it was brand new. For most, Boxhill is another National Trust location, but for others they know it as the location for the cycling events during the 2012 Olympics – which explains the masses of cyclists we saw during our visit!
Even before you arrive at Boxhill you’re presented with stunning 180 degree views in one direction and thick woods in the other.
On went the wellies and parkas, which were needed as it so very cold being so high up. It was a pretty foggy day on the day we went, but it was dry so we were happy.
Family friendly routes
There are several walks you can do at Boxhill, from a full on hike to a hillside stroll. When we visited, we started with the Hill Top stroll, which took us around 45 minutes with the toddler, and explores the history that the site has to offer.
This is a lovely walk through woodland and old wartime ground, and has varied inclines to explore. On this walk you also have the option to join other routes such as the Juniper Walk or the Stepping Stones walk which takes you down to the River Mole at the end. This walk is also a somewhat circular route as when we reached the end we found that we had arrived back at the cafe and visitor centre!
The views are incredible and I’m glad we started with this walk. It also got the toddler fired up, not to mention hungry for some lunch! After our picnic, we packed our things away in the car, got our walking sticks out, and ventured off to our second walk.
The Adventure Trail
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to nature trails at Boxhill, and although T probably would have been happy with any of the walks available, when we heard about the Play Natural Trail we thought this would be the perfect place for T.
Reminding me of the Dingly Dell from Camp Bestival, the walk is one of Boxhill’s ‘easier’ walks; with zero inclines and lots of obstacles to explore along the route. Located in thick woodland, it has a real magic feel to it and even when we knew there were dozens of people exploring the location at the same time as us we still felt completely alone and free to explore at our own pace.
From climbing obstacles to running through tunnels, dens to explore and tree’s to climb, nothing is off limits – if anything, it’s encouraged. Even in the mud, T found plenty to do and had no qualms testing out his balancing act. The forest also brought out the child in both me and Sharon, with Sharon giving some of the obstacles a go herself. I didn’t risk climbing much seeing as I was the only driver!
There’s only one main road that runs through Boxhill, based at the main entrance and car parks, which means a large majority of locations are free for dogs and children to explore safely. Oscar had so much fun running off and was therefore suitably knackered on the way home!
The Adventure Trail was definitely a good choice for us, and although at times it was incredibly muddy, we were able to find alternative routes without getting completely lost. Going off piste every now and again meant that we were lucky enough to scavenge some pine cones, conkers, and acorns! T loved this bit, although it soon got old when he stoped for the 100th time to collect yet another conker for his coat pocket.
Surprisingly, we completed the walk in just over an hour and a half, and that was despite taking the walk at a gentle pace, stopping to collect things, and playing on some of the obstacles. Arriving back at the cafe for around 3:30 we managed to squeeze in a quick coffee and babychino before it shut at 4pm. We then had a look around the shop, which is also home to a small educational zone for children.
We will definitely come back to Boxhill, as I imagine the views are stunning on a clear day. Plus, it’ll be lovely to see the woodland in full blossom in the spring or feel the river on your legs in the summer. Don’t get me wrong, the woodland was wonderful in the winter – we were lucky enough to still have some golden crunchy leaves around us – but it was incredibly muddy at some points. We even thought the toddler might lose a welly at one point.
Nevertheless, it was definitely worth the drive and I would recommend it if you fancy a longer day out in comparison to your usual National Trust location.