BUGGY FRIENDLY WALKS!
Here in Dorking, we are surrounded by some lovely countryside, great for walks. And of course, walking is a fun and cheap way of enjoying time together as a family or with friends. But with stiles, steps, etc not all terrain is suitable for buggies, although you can still always use a sling or baby backpack carrier, for instance climbing the steps up Leith Hill. And of course, your type of buggy is a factor to take into consideration - if the terrain is very muddy, you may still manage okay with a big 3-wheeler, but not a stroller.
Here are some detailed routes.
And here are some of our other favourite local pushchair friendly walks or top tips of where to avoid:-
We often head up to Polesden Lacey, which is great for a pushchair - you can walk around most of the garden with no problems at all and there are lovely open areas for older children to play in. We love it and spend most of the summer there! - Sam
Definitely Denbies and Box Hill for us though need to pick your path with a buggy but the views are well worth the effort! Similarly a good walk over the Downs at Tattenham Corner with the view across to London was a favourite destination but car journey first of course. When they were small babies I really enjoyed the RHS garden at Wisley and judging by the number of families there I am not alone. Local to my end of Dorking involves our useful cut throughs - a shorter push around Pixham and Deepdene a few times did the trick to settle them and up to the Meadow bank via our alleys is another with duck feeding and the park of course as the ultimate incentive for toddlers. - Ruth
I walk on Holmwood Common most days. With a 3 wheeler/fixed front wheel buggy we manage very well. There aren't any stiles to get over, but when it rains it does get VERY muddy and rutty. - Kate
The Nower is brilliant - for buggies and toddlers. Living that side of Dorking we go there a couple of times a week to run around with the football, sit on a bench to blow bubbles, and say hello to all the dogs that get taken there for their walk - very much the same principle actually, toddler and dog-walking....tire them out before tea! We go in through the gate opposite Harrow Road and run down to the open space at the bottom which is brilliant, but the paths through the wood are also great. We went up the hill and along the top on Easter Monday - lovely, but there is a steep slope coming back down beyond the gazebo, with big wide 'steps' - hard work and a bit hairy with a buggy - need 2 people hanging on really! - Hannah
I walked a lot on Ranmore before I had my baby but have not found it particularly buggy friendly. The best path is the trackway to Dorking which is fine for a buggy but does get bumpy due to tree roots at the Dorking end. However the rest of the area is either very steep or muddy when wet or has steps or stiles to negotiate. I have been on the Nower a few times but find only the path across the middle to be buggy friendly. The other paths are too bumpy with tree roots. - Nicky
You can do a nice gently ascending walk behind Denbies as far as the gate. This will be closed unless the Denbies train is operational that day and unfortunately it is rather a tight squeeze to try to get a buggy through the pedestrian side gate. Return the same way unless you want to brave the steep shortcut. Lots of lovely cakes in Denbies restaurant with the option to eat inside the huge conservatory or outside in their central courtyard.
Plenty of paths to choose from at the top of Box Hill for a circular walk avoiding the steep descent. And lots of open space for little ones to run around. Plus there is the Servery.
Most paths on Headley Heath are reasonably flat, so long as you avoid the steep valley in the middle of the Heath. The main NT carpark opposite Headley cricket pitch has a mobile catering van.
Or in Box Hill village, from the small carpark at the bottom of Headley Heath Approach, you can walk down past High Ashurst and back, or you can do a triangular route along Headley Heath Approach, Box Hill Road and Ashurst Drive.
From Reigate Hill carpark, cross the bridge over the road and walk along past the fort to the folly. Lovely location for a picnic or alternatively on your return, there is a cafe in the carpark.
There is a map in the carpark at Bocketts Farm for a circular walk outside, but there are a lot of tree roots, so it is rather a challenge, even with a 3-wheeler buggy. Instead I recommend a short walk following the footpath straight ahead between the farm and the tearoom, and when you reach the ploughed field, return the same way. From both walks, you can see some of the animals over the fence, without entering the farm.
From Bridge Street carpark in Leatherhead, walking along by the river Mole to the meadow. This used to be a nice walk, seeing the swans and ponies, but sadly there is now too much dog poo on the footpath.
Warnham Nature Reserve near Horsham is very buggy friendly with boardwalks over the marshes. £1 admission for adults. It has Tanhouse Cafe on site there, which offers a fairly similar menu to Tanhouse Farm in Newdigate.
Or a walk in Southwater Country Park near Horsham. This also has a children's play area and cafe.
Painshill Park at Cobham, Cherkley Court at Leatherhead and RHS Gardens at Wisley. These are all quite pricy admission but very nice. Or Painshill usually offers some free admission dates during the winter. Plus they all have tearooms. Note that Cherkley Court is only open from April - September and closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
Further afield, Bushy Park and Hampton Court are very nice. From the free carpark by the Diana Fountain in Bushy Park, you can either stroll round the large pond or walk to the children's play area. You can cross the main road straight into Hampton Court via the Lion Gate and from here, you may also stroll along the Thames.
Or it depends what type of walk you want. If you just want a short stroll to settle your baby to sleep in the buggy, there are footpaths and quiet roads around Dorking town. How about around Tower Hill to name but one. Or alternatively you may want to power-walk or jog with the buggy to try to get trim again. So how about alongside the A24 heading towards Leatherhead, as far as you like - noisy but effective.
There is plenty more local countryside but I have no idea how buggy friendly. So if anyone knows about the Glory Wood, Norbury Park, the Old Coach Road to Brockham, Abinger Common, Reigate Heath, Friday Street, Horton Country Park or other nearby areas, do let us know for a future feature on buggy walks. Or perhaps a linear walk and returning by public transport, for instance walking along the river Mole from Westhumble to Leatherhead.
Surrey County Council has published a selection of 24 buggy friendly walks on their website.
See the Action For Life website for weekly organised pram walks at various locations in Surrey. Currently the nearest ones to Dorking are held in Epsom, Redhill and Banstead.
If you have any further ideas for local pushchair friendly walks please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to the website.