SURREY: The Surrey Hills

 

Magnificent Hatchlands Park, the National Trust property in The Surrey Hills

By Tim Saunders

It’s not just picturesque countryside that draws the tourists to Surrey but great experiences that result in many returning visitors.

That’s certainly the case at Edgeley Park in the Surrey Hills, about half an hour from Guildford, where there’s a selection of holiday lodges in over 20 acres of peaceful surroundings. Many enjoy the experience so much the first time that they return to buy one, bolstering the local economy.

“We’ve just sold another two,” reports Alison Donaldson, who runs the park with her husband Grant, both from South Africa. “It’s just as well because we were starting to run out of lodges to let.”

During our long weekend, my wife and I certainly appreciate the merits of buying one. “Owners can let them out for as many weeks of the year as they like and choose when to stay themselves,” explains Alison, adding that celebrities have stayed at the site. Consider the pitiful returns earned from traditional investments and with lodges starting from around £50,000 an owner not only enjoys themselves but makes money, too.

It is so quiet, a good night’s sleep is pretty much guaranteed (which is quite something when you think that we’re next door to Eric Clapton’s lighting engineer), unless you have two little daughters who find it hard to adjust to their new surroundings. But Harriett (2) eventually falls asleep watching the sun go down, while on daddy’s lap. Unfortunately, there is no consoling Heidi (four months). In the morning, bleary eyed, we make for the heated indoor swimming pool and it is a joy to watch the beaming smiles on both of our little sweethearts. Harriett, who is slowly becoming accustomed to swimming, is now confident enough to wear armbands and swim on her own up and down the pool. It is Heidi’s first time and she loves it. This is enough to send them both off to sleep. Unfortunately, it is the wrong time of day to be of any benefit to their shattered parents.

By now, quite hungry, we pop into Prezzo, a plush Italian restaurant in Guildford High Street, which looks really inviting with its elegant décor. A Peroni beer, a spaghetti carbonara and a portion of chocolate cake should be enough to replenish the hungriest soul. All served with a smile in comfortable surroundings.

From there we amble around the Craft Festival that runs between June and August. There are numerous stalls with many and varied wares. A juggler catches Harriett’s attention as we make our way to the art galleries. Inside one we are shocked to see a sketch of Eric Clapton by Ronnie Wood with an £18,000 asking price.

A trip to Hatchlands Park, the National Trust property just down the road from Guildford is a perfect end to the day. There we carelessly mooch through some of the 400 acres of parkland, home to most trees you can imagine ranging from oaks to sycamores with each providing welcome shade from the summer sun. A family of geese catch our attention down at the lake all against the backdrop of the exquisitely designed Georgian mansion.

Those who appreciate quaint English villages will be sure to visit Albury, Farley Green and Shere, the latter a regular film location, with two being shot at the moment.

That sun pleasingly continues to beat down, creating an almost foreign clime.

Numerous new Aston Martins, Ferraris and Bentleys and country retreats for sale far in excess of £1m are all testament to this part of the world being very much the sought after stockbroker belt. So a slice of this for just £50,000 seems like a very good deal indeed…

Recommended places:

Edgeley Park, Albury

Hatchlands Park, near Guildford

Prezzo, Guildford

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