The Surrey Hills

The Surrey Hills

A beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Surrey Hills is a simply spectacular region that unfurls across the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge. First designated in 1958, it is home to a huge diversity of landscapes, with rich woodlands, sun-soaked vineyards, chalky grassland and open heathland all beckoning for exploration.

Whether you love to walk, cycle, horse ride or run, a wealth of winding lanes, trails and bridleways await to be explored in the Surrey Hills, leading you through rolling hills and sunken valleys, picturesque villages and flourishing market towns. To set you on the right path, we’ve curated a guide to the Surrey Hills with some of the most beautiful sites and sights to see along the way.

Box Hill

Views over one of Surrey's vineyards towarsd Box Hill

One of the best places to visit in Surrey, Box Hill in Tadworth is a well-known beauty spot and boasts spectacular views, plenty of walks, a popular café, and a nature play trail for little ones. Part of the North Downs, it is managed by the National Trust and promises all manner of things to see and do, with highlights including a wander to Broadwood’s Tower and picnics at the famous Stepping Stones along the River Mole. Once you’ve walked all you can walk at Box Hill, venture two miles away to the historic market town of Dorking. Here, you can find the Michelin star Sorrel, a modern British restaurant serving innovative, flavourful dishes. One of the best restaurants in the county, it is the perfect place to wine and dine after a day in the hills.

Leith Hill Tower

A view of Leith Hill Tower under blue skies in Surrey

The Surrey Hills National Landscape is known for its incredible landscapes and there’s nowhere better to absorb its beautiful scenery than Leith Hill Tower. Perched atop a hummocky hill near Dorking, this eighteenth-century Gothic folly marks the highest point in South East England and affords far-reaching panoramas. Fall into step along one of our favourite pub walks in Surrey, before taking the 78 spiral steps to the top of the tower and savouring the vistas. On a clear day, you can see as far as the English Channel to the south and Big Ben to the north. Leith Hill Tower is open throughout the year on select days.

Headley Heath

Misty heathland with purple heather flowers in the Surrey Hills

Full of woodland wonder, a quarter of the county of Surrey is painted with regal trees - many of which are ancient in root. One of the best areas for adumbral adventures is Headley Heath, an area of mixed woodland, heathland and chalk downland. Perfect for relaxing strolls in the warm summer air and rambles under clear winter skies, it offers something to see at every turn. To get there, park in the National Trust Headley Heath car park and follow one of the many waymarked trails to immerse yourself in nature’s verdant sanctuary.

Silent Pool

An ethereal view of Silent Pool in Surrey

Beautiful and mysterious, this fairytale expanse of water is surrounded by evergreen box trees and exudes a unique appeal. A popular place to visit near Guildford in Surrey for its dreamlike aesthetics and nearby walks, it is also a sought-after destination for its neighbouring attractions. Set close to one of Surrey’s best gin distilleries, Silent Pool Distillery, and vineyards, Albury Vineyard, has ample to capture your interest and your imagination. Spend time admiring the pool and wandering its trails, before stopping off at one of the area’s attractions to learn about the local artisans producing masterful wines and brews within the leafy surrounds.

Newlands Corner

A view over the verdant sprawl of Newlands Corner

Newlands Corner in Albury Downs near Guildford commands some of the most breathtaking views over the Surrey Hills. As such, it draws all generations of wilderness lovers and tranquillity seekers looking to make the most of its arresting setting. Interestingly, it also happens to be where the famous author, Agatha Christie, staged her mysterious disappearance in 1926. Lace up your walking boots and take to the trails, revelling in the majesty of the area’s chalk downland and ancient woods. To rest, repose, and refuel, you can also visit the site’s Discovery Centre and two cafés, where hot drinks and tasty treats await to warm and revive.

The Tillingbourne

The Tillingbourne River in Surrey shrouded in leafy trees

Running through the Surrey Hills, the lovely Tillingbourne River was once a hive of activity. Dating from the Domesday Book, there have been dozens of mills dotted along the waterline for centuries supporting twelve different industries, including the production of everything from gunpowder to paper to corn. Today, you can still see many of the river’s original two dozen mills and there are several walks that wind along the riverbanks and around the Tillingbourne Valley. Encompassing sixteen miles of route divided into six walks, the Tillingbourne Tales Trails are particularly recommended. Beginning in Chilworth and ending in Wotton, the trails combine heritage and natural beauty, with the final stretch looping close to the river’s source at Leith Hill.

Waverley Abbey

The striking remains of Waverley Abbey in Surrey

Dating back to 1128, the dog-friendly Waverley Abbey near Farnham was the first of its kind in Britain, founded by Cistercian monks who had settled in the area from France. Today, it stands as a peaceful relic of the past and showcases fascinating remains. Though skeletal, many of the abbey’s ancient buildings can still be seen, including the intriguing remnants of its thirteenth-century vaulted dining hall where the lay brothers, the monks’ workers, would have eaten together. On the grounds, a large yew tree also takes residence, believed to date back at least five hundred years. Looked after by English Heritage, the abbey is open throughout the year during daylight hours.

Hankley and Elstead Commons

A misty sunrise over Hankley Common

Supporting the health and biodiversity of Britain’s natural world, neighbouring Hankley and Elstead Commons are home to some of the finest heathland in southern England and are recognised as important grounds for bird, reptile, and invertebrate populations. As well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the 1,400-acre Hankley is also famed for being used as a filming location for many television series and films. Among the most famous, it has set the backdrop for several James Bond movies, The King’s Man, 1917, Black Widow and Enola Holmes.

Holmbury Hill

Views from Holmbury Hill in Surrey

Holmbury is home to a wood-clad hill crowned by an ancient Iron Age hillfort. The fourth highest peak in Surrey, Holmbury Hill affords a gorgeous aspect of the weald and the surrounding landscapes, knitting together patchwork countryside and tangled trees. Hike to the top and find the carefully positioned toposcope to identify the scenes around you. Idyllic for picnics on sunny days, there are lots of places where you can settle down with a blanket and flask of tea. If you can’t wait to start planning your next adventure on Holmbury and are looking to try a different way to explore, there are also some well-defined cycle trails.

The Devil’s Punchbowl

Overlooking the Devil's Punchbowl in Surrey

A natural basin within the earth, the Devil’s Punchbowl near Hindhead Commons is famed as one of the National Landscape’s most iconic features. Swathed in carpets of green grasses, purple heather, and golden-hued gorse, its striking tapestry of textures and tones vies for attention, competing with far-reaching views across the punchbowl to Highcombe Edge and Gibbet Hill. Traced by the Greensand Way, a hundred-mile, long-distance path running across Surrey and Kent, and interlaced with waymarked trails, it’s the perfect place for ambles and hikes throughout the year. Afterwards, reward yourself with a bite to eat in the National Trust café.

Denbies Wine Estate

Rolling vineyards at Denbies Wine Estate

One of the biggest wine producers in the UK, Denbies Wine Estate is a well-known highlight of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Located near Dorking, it is composed of 265 acres of vines and produces a range of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. Recognised on an international level, it is part of the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills and offers wonderful indoor and outdoor tours and tasting experiences. Book a guided tour and enjoy both group and private tours. A particular highlight, the outdoor vineyard train tour takes you on a journey through the estate with commentary and the option of a glass of Denbies’ award-winning sparkling wine.

Feeling inspired to explore the Surrey Hills? Take a look at our luxury cottage collection.

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