With COVID-19 restrictions easing and the school holidays upon us, we know you'll be looking for new ideas for day trips with the family.
If you live in London, you could take a royal day-trip, visit a local petting farm or go hunting for mini-beasts. Or, if you're keen to get out of the city, but don't particularly fancy any long car journeys right now, why not take a short drive out to the picturesque village of Ashtead, Surrey.
Combining a fascinating history and rich natural habitats with little local places to eat, drink and explore, Ashtead is the perfect village day out for all the family.
All About Ashtead, Surrey
Close to the towns of Epsom and Leatherhead, Ashtead is the largest village in the Mole Valley area of Surrey (in fact, it has a higher population than most towns in the area too.) Located about 15.5 miles south of central London, Ashtead can be found on the northern slopes of the North Downs, and is accessed from the A24 or the M25 to the South.
Ashtead, meaning 'homestead among the ash trees, is one of Surrey's oldest and most historic settlements, dating all the way back to the Iron Age. Under its original name of ‘Stede’ it was even recorded in the Doomsday book of 1086. Over the centuries it's been a farm and the home to a Roman settlement, a villa has been excavated on what is now Ashtead common!
Now, it's a thriving community, home to a two-part conservation area and the perfect place for a family day trip.
Ashtead, Surrey is the perfect place to grab your bikes, wellies and dogs for some fresh air and nature-spotting.
Located at the north side of Ashtead village, here you can find wide, tree-lined avenues as well as lots of woodland, perfect for jumping in muddy puddles. Together with Epsom Common, it's an area of special interest because of its community of breeding birds and ancient oak trees, which also provide homes for rare invertebrates. If your children are learning about mini beasts at school, they're sure to love it here.
Whilst it doesn't have its own car park, you can park at Ashtead station, located at the south of the common.
Ashtead Park is a large 60+ acre nature reserve steeped in history. As a Grade II historic area, it's home to the remains of a Roman building, the beautiful St Giles' Church and a number of other listed buildings. And an array of marked footpaths snake around the woodland, grassland and four different lakes/ponds, so there's lots to explore. The variety of habitats make it a haven for wildlife so don't forget binoculars, magnifying glasses, bug pots or any other fun tools for little adventurers.
It has its own car park to the north of the site, and dogs are allowed. However it doesn't have toilet facilities and, due to the nature of the terrain, it's not suitable for wheelchair users or those that struggle with mobility.
Ashtead Park Garden Centre
Garden Centres are always a great way to entertain the family for an hour or two. Along with all the usual plants and a gift shop, Ashtead Park Garden Centre have an onsite restaurant (no pre-booking required) with a variety of menus to suit everyone including afternoon tea and Sunday roasts - they even have a pizza oven! They also have a good children's menu (for kids up to age 12) offering hot food, sandwiches and a range of drinks including the ever-popular babyccino.
They're open every day, with social distancing measures in place.
Located in Epsom, only a couple of miles from Ashtead, you can find the brilliant Hobbledown Farm. With outdoor adventures like zorbing and high ropes, play areas, animals, a play village, indoor play barn and much more, it's a great day out for kids of all ages.
It does currently have some COVID-19 restrictions in place. You won't be able to buy tickets on-site so it's vital you pre-book online, and you'll be asked to choose an arrival time so the venue can manage capacity.
After a morning of exploring, you're sure to want to rest those feet and grab a bite to eat, and Ashtead has some great kid-friendly pubs that are well worth a visit.
The Brewery Inn
The Brewery Inn is a great choice for a pit stop with their outside area, kids 'Pick and Mix' menu, baby changing availability and WiFi. They're taking part in the Eat Out To help Out scheme during August, although they're currently offering a smaller range than usual due to COVID-19.
The Leg of Mutton & Cauliflower
The unusually named Leg of Mutton & Cauliflower is 500 years old, and is sure to please Mums and Dads with its selection of real ales and artisan gins. With a children's menu and a large garden, they're really family-friendly. And the pub also welcomes walkers and cyclists, offering a secure place to store them whilst you eat. It is dog friendly too, with a bowl of water and a biscuit always on offer.
Near to Epsom and Leatherhead and just a five minute walk from Ashtead Station, it's really conveniently located. And as an Ember Inns pub, The Woodman offers the comfort and variety you'd expect. The pub offers fixed price lunch and dinner menus alongside a kids menu, a vegetarian and vegan menu and Sunday lunch. They're also taking part in the Eat Out To help Out scheme.
Whilst you're in the areas, don't forget to visit the village of Ashtead itself, with its high street, shopping parade and variety of places to eat and drink.
Food And Drink
Ashtead has lots of independent cafes and coffee shops where you can take some time to recharge your batteries. The fabulous Handley's are now offering a full menu again (although they're still closed on Sundays) including a kids menu for 12's and under. And if you're looking to stay for dinner, there are a few little restaurants that are sure to hit the spot, like Italian Zia Vitalia who take pride in being a child-friendly restaurant with their simple and honest home-cooking.
Ashtead high street shops are mostly local independents. Whilst there are a couple of ladies' boutiques and a good gift shop, a good number of Ashtead shops are practical - think office supplies, tiles, flooring and appliances, so they're probably not the best place for the kids to spend their pocket money.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
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