Glorious gardensBy Rebecca Magill
May 15, 2008
Taking a walk round a local beauty spot is a great way to have a cheap and cheerful day out.
As we are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful parts of England, there is no shortage of green spaces to enjoy. Go trekking around the Rowhill Nature Reserve or, for a more sedate day out, try one of the stately homes and landscape gardens.
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a walk around one of Aldershot’s best-kept secrets this summer. Rowhill Nature Reserve is woodland that covers around 55 acres of land off Cranmore Lane.
Not only is it a working coppice, it also features heathland, meadow, peat bog, ponds and streams. This means there is a huge range of wildlife and plant life.
Owned by Rushmoor Borough Council, the reserve has a field centre that’s open on Sunday afternoons where you can get a map outlining walking paths. Get one free by calling 01252 319749.
As the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, RHS Garden Wisley is a must-visit for plant lovers.
Fore more than 100 years the experts have been cultivating new and interesting varieties here, many of which can be seen in their 240 acres of beautiful gardens or can be bought in the on-site shop.
You can take a stroll around the mixed borders or climb to the top of the magnificent rock garden or visit the bicentenary glasshouse and learning centre which was built last year. Adult £8, child £2, 0845 260 9000.
Fleet Pond, off Fleet Road, is the place to go if you want to see wildlife in its natural surroundings. The nature reserve offers a wide variety of habitats, including open water, reed beds, marshland, heathland and wet and dry woodlands – all which support specialised plants and animals that are becoming rarer in Hampshire.
The Fleet Pond Society, a team of volunteers who manage the reserve, has done sterling work including completing the footpath circuit of the pond and installing two bridges. Free, 01252 616183.
You certainly won’t get bored taking a walk around Busbridge Ornamental Lakes, near Godalming. Not only does it have plenty of lakes and ponds to explore, it boasts hundreds of bird species including waterfowl, peacocks, pheasants and many other unusual varieties.
Make sure you enjoy the ancient follies, such as the Doric Temple, the Gothic Boathouse and the pretty rustic bridges that arch over the lakes. Then finish off the day with some tea and cake at the old stone coach house. Adult £5, child £3.50, 01483 421955.
Staying in Godalming, another great day out is the Winkworth Arboretum. There are more than 1,000 different shrubs and trees at the centre, including lots of rare species.
The most impressive display is in the spring, when the magnolias, bluebells and azaleas are out, but in the summer it is an ideal place for family visits and a picnic. Adult £5.20, child £2.60, family (2 adults, 3 children) £13. 01483 208477.
Surrey’s latest tourist attraction, Cherkley Court & Gardens, has opened its formal landscaped gardens to the public. Set in 400 acres of beautiful park and woodlands near Leatherhead, it was the home of the press baron and minister, the 1st Lord Beaverbrook.
As well as grand terraces, garden pavilions, a stone grotto and a stunning Italianate garden, there are wild flower meadows, a walnut orchard and woodland walks. Adult £6, child £4.50, www.cherkleycourt.com
Another garden worth a visit is Painshill Park, the carefully restored 18th century landscape gardens at Cobham.
One of the highlights is the grotto. Although it is in the middle of restoration, you will still be impressed by the thousands of tiny crystals lining its walls.
If you can stand heights, climb the Gothic Tower. Built in the 1750s, it gives you a great view over the park. Adult £6.60, child £3.85, www.painshill.co.uk
Even though Brickfields, on Boxalls Lane, Aldershot, is possibly the UK’s smallest country park, it still has plenty to offer.
Reclaimed from the remains of Victorian brickworks, it’s little known by residents, so it is the perfect place for a peaceful walk.
It has some unusual wildlife and a pond, which takes its water supply from a natural stream. Free, S 01252 330966.