Home to celebrities, commuters and those looking for the good life, Surrey provides an easy move from London says Matthew Williams
Long an escape from the city, for everyone from Victorian writers and artists to Seventies rock stars, Surrey remains a home from home for those looking for a break from the bustling streets of London.
With fantastic road, rail and air connections, the county’s mix of cosmopolitan and countryside remains a draw for the rich and famous looking for a taste of fresh air with easy access to city night life and worldwide travel.
But Surrey remains far more than just a gin and Jag belt too. The picturesque backbone of the county has provided inspiration for those of an artistic mind and escape for those of an athletic body for generations. Add into the mix world class schools, top pubs and restaurants, an all too often forgotten number of historic attractions and quaint villages, and some truly spectacular properties, and it’s no surprise that Surrey’s popularity increases every year.
For a landlocked county, there are waterside options wherever you look. With the Thames dominating the north and the Wey running through the county’s heart, there are plenty of options for boating but the county also surprisingly offers the option of a beach at Frensham ponds near Farnham.
Meanwhile keen walkers will delight in tramping over Surrey Hills, the jewel in Surrey’s natural crown. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, they take in some of the most spectacular countryside in southern England, and the high vantage points offer stunning panoramas north to London and south to the sea. A haven whether on foot, bike or horse, Leith Hill, with its gothic tower rising majestically at its peak, is the highest point in south-east England; Box Hill is as famous for a picnic scene in Jane Austen’s Emma as is its international road cycle races; while St Martha on the Hill is a church with a view well worth the energising walk it takes to reach it.
For those less energetic amongst us, a visit to the 18th century Shalford Mill (nationaltrust.org.uk) near Guildford comes highly recommended.
It’s been in the National Trust’s care since the early 1930s when it was bought by an intriguing group of preservationists called the Ferguson Gang (a group of mainly well-educated young women who got together secretly to raise money for philanthropic projects).
Long popular with the rich, royal and famous, today Esher is best known for its cosmopolitan vibe with designer boutiques, restaurants and bars.
Journey time: 23 mins to Waterloo
Season ticket: £1,980
House prices: Semi detached from £391,950, detached from £600,000, flats from £199,950
Famously home to Paul Weller and the Jam, this Surrey town is an easy commute into London.
Journey time: 30 mins to Waterloo
Season ticket: £2,980
House prices: Semi detached from £285,000, detached from £435,000, flats from £175,000
Lying over 700 feet above sea level, Woldingham is a beauty spot criss-crossed by ancient trails and is a favoured walking area.
Journey time: 34 mins to Waterloo
Season ticket: £1,824
House prices: Detached from £1,200,000, flats from £320,000
Away from the famous racecourse, life is bustling in Epsom. It’s not surprising then that it often features highly in lists of the best places to live in the UK.
Journey time: 36 mins to Waterloo
Season ticket: £1,876
House prices: Semi detached from £325,000, detached from £424,950, flats from £180,000
Labelled ‘England’s craft town’, Farnham has long been a hive of creativity. Its historic centre and beautiful surrounding countryside continue to inspire today.
Journey time: 54 mins to Waterloo
Season ticket: £3,688
House prices: Semi detached from £275,000, detatched from £425,000, flats from £185,000