I’ve decided to try something new this year with my working week. I’m attempting a four-day working week instead of the ‘normal’ five day week. I have no idea how practical this will be, but one of the beauties of being a freelancer is having the flexibility to set my own hours. I’d say that makes it worth a try!
My ‘day off’ will be scheduled in my diary, and I’ll be saying no to anything work-related which comes up on this day.
I want to use this time to do something for myself. Some days I may decide to stay home and have a movie day, other days, and I’m hoping for more of these, I hope to head out adventuring again.
Whilst I love exploring new places, I tend to creep back into the ‘safety’ of visiting places I’ve been to before. Hopefully, having an extra day off each week will be the push I need to get back out there and explore a bit more.
The Surrey Hills
Since moving to Kingston Upon Thames almost 18 months ago, I’ve fallen in love with the Surrey Hills. Kingston is a 20-minute drive from the edge of the hills, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time exploring them, as well as the surrounding countryside, with my walking group.
There are a few places in and around the hills, which are more touristy, and don’t form part of our walks. It’s some of these places I hope to explore over the coming weeks.
I’m not sure what it is about the Surrey Hills that attracts me to them. Maybe it’s because they’re so close to Kingston, or perhaps it’s the ‘being on holiday’ vibe I get from being there. Or, maybe it’s the quaint beauty of the area.
There are 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the UK, with the Surrey Hills being one of the first places to be awarded this status in the 1950s. Click here to see the vast area the Surrey Hills covers.
The Sculpture Park
I spend a lot of time on Instagram, and I often come across photos of places I haven’t visited before. I add these photo’s to a folder so that when I have a spare day coming up, I can browse through them to see if any of these places might be worth a visit.
The Sculpture Park in Churt is deep in the South-Western part of the Surrey hills. It kept popping up on my social media, so I decided to make this my first trip of the year.
It’s an easy drive from Kingston, heading south on the A3 and turning off just after Guildford. Once you exit the A3, the roads become interesting! They’re certainly not for the faint-hearted! Thankfully it’s only about a 10-minute drive from the turn-off. Whilst the road’s are a little bit hair raising in places, you’re not on them for long, unless, like me, you go flying by the Sculpture Park, because you’re concentrating so much on the road ahead of you!
It’s worth noting that there is a requirement to pre-book. Thankfully I had done some research the day before my visit, and I booked my ticket and arrival time in the morning before I departed. I’m not sure if this is a ‘normal’ requirement or has something to do with Covid restrictions. Either way, it’s a quick and straightforward process. It costs £10 per person to enter the park plus a small booking fee of about 88p. There are toilets on-site but no refreshments. However, there is a pub across the road which serves food. I gave the pub a miss and opted for a packed lunch instead.
After a minor detour, I arrived at the Sculpture Park. There are very few parking spaces directly outside the entrance. However, I discovered afterwards that visitors to the park have the right to use the pub’s overflow car park on the other side of the road, which is handy to know for the future. I managed to squeeze into the last car parking space available, directly outside the entrance, donned my walking boots and headed through the main gates.
Once inside the park, I entered a magical fairy-like woodland, with meandering paths, the sounds of the local wildlife and the most beautiful sunbeams streaming through the trees.
I checked in at reception, and the receptionist handed me a laminated map. She explained the best route for me to take to make sure I saw all of the sculptures on display.
The park consists of a 2-mile trail covering 10 acres of woodland and water gardens. With over 600 sculptures in the park, they all have a unique QR code printed at the base. Scan the code, and this will show you how much each of the sculptures would cost to buy. Whilst I went along for the experience, many people visit to purchase something interesting for their own gardens.
The Sculpture Park website recommends allowing around 2-3 hours to complete the trails, and I would agree with this. I was there for just under 3 hours but took my time walking around, enjoying the mystical sunlight as it was shining through the trees, and taking plenty of photographs. I also stopped halfway round to enjoy my packed lunch.
Whilst some paths have signs that suggest they are suitable for those who are less able, I would say that it would be challenging to get a wheelchair or a pushchair around a lot of it. There are also steps in places.
What I’m about to say next will probably sound baffling but, I’m not a big fan of sculptures. However, I could still appreciate the beauty of the art in front of me, especially in such beautiful surroundings.
The trails are all carefully marked, although I found myself going around in circles towards the end of my visit, as quite a few paths merge around the water gardens.
The only thing missing is somewhere to sit down and get some refreshments, although I suspect, had I not been visiting alone, I would’ve felt more comfortable heading into the pub for a drink after my walk. I forgot to mention that once you’ve been to the reception area to check in, you are free to come and go as you please. So if you fancy heading to the pub for a coffee or a bite to eat, you can.
All in all, I felt The Sculpture Park was well worth a visit. It was nice to get some headspace and to lose myself in the magic of the woodland whilst enjoying the fresh air and taking in the often bizarre art on display in front of me.
I plan to take my parents next time they come to visit, so hopefully, I’ll be able to report back on the food at the pub across the road and to get a feel of the woodland at a different time of year.