Walk: Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Admire this opulent Edwardian country retreat before stomping through the estate’s wild wooded valley, says Abigail Hamilton-Thompson

Polesden Lacey, Surrey


This 1,400 acre estate on the North Downs, nestled among the Surrey Hills, is rightly classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A short drive from Dorking, Polesden Lacey was once the country residence of Edwardian socialite Margaret Greville and is now being preserved in her unique style by the National Trust. 

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Whether you arrive by road, rail or foot, you cannot fail to be impressed by the stunning views over the Surrey Hills. The house itself with its numerous opulent rooms has been host to important guests such as King Edward VII and Winston Churchill. It has also been the set for a number of films and twice appeared on The Antiques Roadshow. 

Take in the gardens and follow in the footsteps of George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), who spent part of their honeymoon here in 1923. And look out for Mrs Greville’s tomb near the early 20th-century rose garden. 

Stretch Your Legs 

Once you’ve toured the house and gardens, the rest of the estate is at your fingertips. This is truly an impressive back garden, as it contains a stunning wooded valley. There are four colour-coded waymarked trails of varying levels, most of which are suitable for families, and dogs are welcome on the estate, too. Pick up leaflets from visitor reception for £1 to check the route beforehand. 

Follow through the rolling downland, passing historic farmsteads and wandering through woodland before taking in the stunning valley views. Or you could bring a picnic to eat in the orchard- children will love Squirrel’s Corner adventure play area. 

Listen out for the chatter of parakeets or the bark of the muntjac deer. In the evening , you might spot one of the 12 species of endangered bats found here. There is plenty of birdlife to be spotted, too. 

Keep Tradition

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Once you have finished exploring the grounds, treat yourself to a lovely afternoon tea at either the Granary Café or Cowshed Coffee Shop.