England Europe Travel Diary

Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty

Wanting to explore the region where we live, I jumped on Google Maps (what else) and looked for places and areas of interest in Surrey.

Being Google, it knew my strong preferences to places with lots of nature and walking trails so immediately pin pointed the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty on the map.

Leith Hill Tower. The highest point of South East England
Leith Hill Tower. The highest point of South East England

Driving from Surbiton, it took us around 30 minutes to reach the town of Dorking (are people who live in Dorking called dorks?) before forking off through the villages of Westcott and Abinger Hammer to stop at Gomshall for fantastic morning tea (coffee and an excellent Victoria Sponge Cake) at the lovely Tillings Cafe.

After ingesting the caffeine and carbohydrate combination, we set off to explore this ‘area of outstanding beauty’.

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Actually, I don’t really want to talk about the Surrey Hills, because really, while it was beautiful, with lots of tree lined roads, the cliched green rolling hills with lots of fantastic hiking routes and heritage buildings, it was the drive, the journey that I really enjoyed.

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I am normally not a keen driver. I much prefer the freedom of not having to concentrate on the cars and traffic rules and enjoy the view or at least, a good book during my commute to work.

However, the Surrey Hills area is perfect for road trips, with pretty gardens and small cute villages dotted all around to visit.

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It is especially pleasant at this time of the year, when the wildflowers are blooming en-mass and many villages and towns come alive with festivals and carnivals.

For lunch, we sat in the courtyard of a country pub, predictably called ‘The Red Lion’ (with 944 pubs bearing this name, ‘The Red Lion’ is the most popular pub name in the UK), basked in the warm English sun and consumed our sandwich and a local ale.

At times, as we drove on and discover villages that felt quintessentially British, we turn around and park up. One such village was Sphere, where we stopped to walk its criss-crossing public footpaths, dipped our feed in the cold running stream and stopped for cream tea.

Ah, cream tea – otherwise known elsewhere in the world as ‘Devonshire Tea’ – the perfect combination of good quality tea taken with scones served with homemade jam and clotted cream.

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The clotted cream. I wasn’t introduced to this god of creams until I moved to the UK. It’s so much more than just cream, or double cream, or whipped cream or whatever else those fancy places claim cream can be.

Clotted cream is unbelievable thick and probably unbelievably bad for you but GEEZ, give me clotted cream any day with my cream tea!

(By the way for those interested, there is a Clotted Cream and Strawberries ice cream in Waitrose!)

The drive around Surrey Hills was fun, mostly because it was aimless, it was leisurely and it was, what travel should be – it was a journey to explore the unknown.

PS, The unknown, in our case, was a Google search.

PPS, No, Google didn’t pay me for the continuous mention. It’s just a sad fact of modern life that we now associate actions with the popular brands they are linked with! (Think ‘I’ll Hoover it’, and mostly commonly used in the US of A: ‘I’ll Xerox it’!) – Yikes.

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