With summer holidays well underway, we’ve been thinking about all the great places around Surrey to take children for days out which also make great backdrops to practice your photography skills. We’re so lucky in this area, with a whole wealth of history mixed with a fair amount of modern, an abundance of natural beauty balanced with some architectural delight, and a plentiful supply of diverse and interesting environments, from the ultra urban to the rolling green hills – we really are spoiled for choice.
Sometimes it’s hard to take the time to pick up your real camera when you’re running around after the littlies – quick snaps with your phone can capture a moment, but it’s also great to keep those camera skills fresh in your mind and we always find that when we look back, we’re glad that we took the time to produce images that we will really enjoy looking back on in years to come.
The list could be almost endless, but we’ve selected eight of our favourites to give you some ideas for family days out this summer which will give you some time behind the lens too.
We really love this walled garden for it’s beautiful wild flowers, quirky decor and giant deck chairs! There’s a wooden play structure for the older kids to clamber on, a good mix of man made and natural backdrops and two coffee shops to ward off those mid-morning munchies. There are often kids activities taking place during the summer months and the walled garden feels plenty big enough for some running around to tire out those little legs!
Mayfield is an organic lavender farm set on a gentle slope in Banstead and July and August are prime time for those fragrant purple blooms. It’s a photographers paradise as well as a well marked spot on the tourist trail so you can expect crowds, although we always manage to find a relatively quiet spot. Our children love running up and down the rows of lavender, hiding and then jumping out, and looking at the bees. They hold a photography competition every year – always a great way to push yourself. There’s a nominal entry fee and a shop and cafe on site.
Beautiful National Trust landscape gardens with almost 300 years of history, and plenty of unique features to add some interest to your images. There’s a large lake, an impressive turf amphitheater and a selection of unique features to discover as you wander around. There is a cafe onsite and a childrens play area too. Entry fees apply – check website for more information.
This 26 acre park set in well kept grounds, has a varied range of bird species, a farm, play areas and a cafe, gift shop and a couple of kiosks. The children loved all the different varieties of birds as well as the animals on the farm and we were really impressed with the cafe at the adjoining garden centre for lunch. There was plenty to do to keep our children amused all day, and you can even pop into Underwarter World for a few minutes at the end of your day too. Entry fees vary throughout the year – current pricing is available on their website.
Family owned Priory Farm is set on a hillside a few minutes from the centre of Redhill. The discovery walk takes you on a trail over the hillside where you’ll find wildflowers, play structures that fit comfortably into their natural environment and fish who come at the ring of a bell! There are a couple of different quizzes for the kids to follow on their way around and when we were there last week the sunflower maze was well under construction – I would imagine it will be ready by mid-August. There’s a garden centre with a coffee shop selling delicious cakes and a couple of kiosks for ice creams, drinks etc. The cafe has been recently refurbished and a well enclosed play area with a large sandpit and play structures that equally satisfied a 1 year old and an 8 year old. There is a nominal fee for the discovery trail and for fish food – check the website for latest prices.
A National Trust owned Edwardian house and estate with rambling grounds. The house is interesting to look around, but the outdoor areas are where you can really give your gear a work out and keep the kids happy, and they really are fantastic all year round. We love the walled garden, rolling down the big hill behind the house, sitting in deckchairs to munch on ice creams from the kiosk and collecting sticks to build dens in the woods. There’s a shop and a cafe on site as well as a kiosk for ice creams and drinks. Check the website for latest entry fees.
Picking your own strawberries sends us right back to our childhood days! This activity is double fun for children and offers fantastic photo opportunities, not just picking the strawberries but once you get home and make something with them too! If strawberries aren’t your thing there are plenty of other fruit and vegetable picking options and you just pay for what you pick. There’s a picnic area if you can’t wait to get home before you tuck into the fruits of your labours as well as a farm shop, garden centre and restaurant. Check the website to see what’s available for picking.
These beautiful 18th century landscape gardens offer the most spectacular backdrops. With lakes, bridges, a selection of unique follies, a working waterwheel, a vineyard beautiful flora and even a crystal grotto, your kids will be kept easily amused and you’ll be spoilt for choice for photographic backgrounds. Entry fees apply – check the website for current pricing – and there is a cafe and gift shop on site.