Surrey – a county of surprises

From meerkats to a Derren Brown Ghost Train, Surrey is one of those English counties that never fails to surprise you. Think of Surrey and your first thought might be commuter belt, wealthy stockbrokers and Surrey Cricket Club. But delve a little deeper and Surrey is a county of myriad interests.

A stone's throw from the capital

Just 40 minutes from London, Surrey has the benefit of the capital’s tourists attractions, vibrant shopping scene, dining and nightlife, but turn away from London and head out into the Surrey countryside and it is a very different landscape.

Hatchlands Park is set among 400 acres of parkland and woodland and is home to numerous endangered species, such as the Red Squirrel or the old English apple trees. You can wander for hours in the untamed wilderness or you can spend a few tranquil hours in the landscaped gardens. The house is a red-brick country house and is open 363 days a year. There is a cafe and shop as well as providing a home to the Cobbe Collection of historic keyboard instruments, dating back to 1750.

On the buses

For lovers of vintage travel, the London Bus Museum at Cobham Hall, Weybridge, is an absolute must. This is the largest collection of working London buses in the world and represents more than 100 years of transport history. It’s a great day out for the people that remember them and an evocative history lesson for the youngest generation. The displays range from the horse-bus period of the late 19th century, through to the ‘modern’ bus of the 1930s and the heyday of the bus in the 1950s-60s.

If it is an activity day you are after then Swinley Forest Bike Trails might be just what you are looking for. Swinley Forest is a large expanse of woodland covering more than 2,600 acres. The forest is young in comparison to many ancient woods (18th century) but even so, the trails pass forst that are more than 200 years old and, as you follow the trails deep into the woodlands, you could be passing under the tree canopy in any historical era.

Under starter's orders

Sandown Park Racecourse is renown for horse racing and attracts a quality line-up of horses throughout the year but it is also gaining a UK-wide reputation as a venue for bands, live music and other large events such as trade shows, wedding fairs and car shows. Visit the website to find out what is going on. It is also home to Daytona Sandown Park, a fab karting venue with two circuits and events for a range of abilities. Perfect to entertain teenagers and kidults.

For animal lovers, Beaver Water World is an animal rescue centre for beavers, deer. meerkats and other birds and reptiles. There is also an adoption centre so you can lend your support to the organisation and its work as well as a cafe.

Top attractions to amuse big kids

Also aimed at children and teenagers, Surrey is home to two of the best known attractions in the UK – Chessington World of Adventures and Thorpe Park. At Chessington you will find a theme park, zoo and sea-life centre, while in Thorpe Park it is all about adrenaline, with hair raising roller-coaster rides, water rides or themed attractions, such as the Derren Brown Ghost Ride or the ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’ maze there is something to keep everyone entertained.

These are just a  few of the incredible range of adventures and activities that visitors to Surrey can explore and enjoy.