Thursday, 7 July 2011

Outdoor Spaces in Elmbridge

I like little more in life than setting off for a nice long hike - but sometimes I just want a quick blast of fresh air in my lungs.  This is what my parents refer to as a 'blow-through' and typically as children this involved a trip to the coast or some kind of National Trust Garden.

When I lived in Tooting my go-to place was Battersea Park. It had landscaped areas, lawns and the Peace Mile along the river to enjoy as well a number of nice little lunch options nearby.

Since moving to Walton-on-Thames we've been trying to explore the local area a bit (in between building flat-pack furniture) but seeing as we are around 2 miles from the Thames we're actually spent a bit of time at West End and the Esher Commons as well as Hersham Riverside Park.

West End is actually the 'west end' of Esher although since it has its own Wikipedia entry I'm happy to refer to it as it is.  Its a small village surrounding a cricket square and pond with a half decent pub called The Prince of Wales and a cracking Garden Centre, Pick-you-own farm and farm-shop at Garsons.  This area can be damp as the water table is quite high due to West End being criss-crossed with little streams and ponds (and backing onto the River Mole)

Esher Commons

After my bout of Swine Flu between Christmas and New Year it was to West-End and the Esher Commons that I was dragged after a week of not leaving the house.  There is a great map and leaflet for this area that be downloaded directly from the Council website but actually in truth you would benefit from an Ordinance Survey map of the area if possible (although we went in January hence the unseasonal pictures - the lack of people contributed to us feeling a little lost)

There is an interesting route which takes you alongside the River Mole called The Ledges.  From here you have an unusual elevated view of the river for quite some distance before you cut back down from West End Common to Esher Common.

Fungus at West End Common

Preserved by snow?

The Ledges, West End Common

A tenuous grip on the land

Esher Common itself is dominated by Black Pond - a surprisingly remote-looking body of water if you can manage to filter out the noise of the nearby A3.  There is an easy access trail from the road near Claremont Landscape Gardens with a number of explanatory signs.

Black Pond, Esher Common

A festive tree on Esher Common

More fungus - Esher Common

This is a very well maintained and landscaped space and particularly good value if you are already a National Trust Member.  If you are not it will set you back about £6 each for an hours stroll.

This seemed a particular favourite for families with young children picnic-ing by the lake.

View from above the Amphitheatre

Belvedere Tower

Hersham Riverside Park.

The easiest access here is behind the Waitrose carpark in the village centre.  While this is a very short walk (its not a 'destination'), it is very convenient and surprisingly peaceful.


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