Cobham is one of a number of towns and villages clustered around the M25 that prove you don’t have to travel far from London to discover the joys of the countryside. The town itself dates back to pre-Roman times, although its most famous landmark – the red-bricked Cobham Mill – is a relative newcomer to the area, originating in the 1820s.
The town itself boasts a few historical buildings of interest: St Andrew’s Church (pictured above) dates back to the 12th century, although only a handful of original features remain – check out Church Stile House, which adjoins the churchyard and was built in the 15th century. Cobham Park dominates the view to the south of the River Mole, but you’ll have to admire the 18th century mansion from a distance as it’s privately owned and off-limits to the general public.
When it comes to escaping the hustle and bustle of urban life, you’ve plenty of options. If you want to sample village life, try Stoke d’Abernon to the south of Cobham, which prides itself on having resisted the urbanisation of the surrounding area.
If you’d prefer to escape to the countryside, there are plenty of walks and green space within walking distance of Cobham itself. Painshill Park was landscaped in the 18th century and includes its fair share of rare wildlife, including the grey heron. If you want something a little wilder, try Oxshott Heath with its 200 acres of heath and woodland to explore.
If you want to venture further afield, head west to a trio of sites administered by Surrey Wildlife Trust at Wisley Common, Ockham and Chatley Heath, where a programme of restoration has seen the wild heather bouncing back along with a number of rare species.
Where to stay
You’ll have to push the boat out a little to stay at the Woodlands Park Hotel, which is situated just outside Cobham. Prices start at £107 per night for a double room with full English breakfast, but the rewards are worth it: you’ll be staying in a stunning location, in a beautifully built 19th century house set in landscaped grounds, and enjoying four-star luxury to boot.
Tel: 0845 072 7581
Where to eat
The Old Bear can be found at the end of Cobham High Street, and has a history as a pub stretching back to the early 18th century, and retains much of its old charm with exposed beams and oak floors. The pub offers both a traditional pub menu as well as more refined three-course dining menu, all based on British cuisine.
Tel: 01932 862116
Tell us a local secret
The churchyard at St Andrew’s is apparently haunted by a strange apparition – that of a blue donkey. Other local hauntings include a hermit who wanders through Cobham Park.
Picture: Copyright Danny Robinson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
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