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Things to see and do at Abinger Roughs and Netley Park  

A grassy clearing surrounded by trees
You can stop for a picnic on this grassy clearing | © National Trust

The sandy soil of Abinger Roughs makes it attractive to walkers all year round. There’s plenty for families to see and do, with fantastic walks, nature trails, picnic spots and a children’s play area. Pull on your boots and wander the paths, enjoying the tranquillity and magic of nature.  

Explore the footpaths

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and explore the many footpaths. Why not join the Pilgrims’ Way or the North Downs Way at Netley Woods?

The two-mile circular nature trail is fairly flat and perfect for those new to exploring the countryside. To discover all the amazing wildlife here, start from the car park and follow the posts or pick up a leaflet.

For a more thorough exploration of the woods, follow the two-mile waymarked tree trail.

Hop on your bike

Discover more of Surrey’s beautiful countryside and join the National Cycle Network Sustrans route 22 at Abinger Roughs. Cycle along the leafy path at the foot of the North Downs. There are a couple of bridlepaths that cross Abinger Roughs, with hills and bumpy ground, which make great cycleways.

See the Wilberforce Memorial

Near the Roughs car park is a large granite memorial to Samuel Wilberforce, ‘Soapy Sam’, the Bishop of Winchester. Wilberforce was thrown from his horse on 19 July 1873 and the memorial marks the spot where he fell.

Sit and watch the evening sun

Take an evening stroll across the Roughs. Rest on ‘sunset seat’ and enjoy the views looking west towards Hackhurst Farm and up onto Hackhurst Down and Kingswood.

Den building in the natural play area at Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire
There is plenty to explore for all the family | © National Trust Images/Oskar Proctor

Family fun at Abinger Roughs

Whatever the weather, dress for mess and make your own adventures on the Roughs.

Get active in the natural play area

Not far from the car park is the natural play area filled with logs of varying shapes and combinations designed to encourage young ones to test their climbing skills and balance. Simply follow the arrow at the back of the car park.

Play among the trees

As you explore the wider areas of Abinger Roughs, there are lots of places to get the family stuck into these activities:

Climb a tree: scramble up and see how high you can go.

Go foraging: collect nuts, acorns and berries and see how many you can identify. Remember, no matter how tasty they look, don’t eat anything unless you’re sure it’s safe.

Hug a tree: put your arms around a tree trunk and see how big it is. How many people have to join in to reach all around? Which is the fattest tree in the wood?

Hunt for bugs: examine the bark and see what creepycrawlies are there. What sort of tree has the most?

Try bark rubbing: take some paper and crayons. Hold the paper against the bark and rub to reveal the pattern. Which tree makes the most interesting pattern?

Last but not least, go and kick some fallen leaves! It’s the ultimate mood-lifting stress buster.

Enjoy a quiet moment close to nature

Take time to savour the sights, sounds and smells of nature in Netley Woods and on the Roughs. Smell the fragrant pine trees and listen to the tuneful songs of the many resident birds.

Walker admiring the view at Abinger Roughs and Netley Park, Surrey
Walker admiring the view at Abinger Roughs and Netley Park | © National Trust Images/John Miller

Watch and listen for birds

Many birds become active as they hunt for food and are easier to spot among the bare trees. As you stroll see what you can find:

Buzzards: you can often hear the cat-like cries of buzzards far above you as they soar in the sky.

Kestrels: easily identified as a small bird that hovers above the fields hunting for small mammals.

Jays: a fast-flying bird, often seen as a bright flash with a hint of blue as it dashes through the trees collecting acorns for the winter.

Woodpeckers: the drumming of spotted woodpeckers is unmistakeable. The chuckling ‘yaffle’ of a green woodpecker is also notable. They like to hunt for ants on grass, and will fly off when disturbed.

Owls: with the light falling earlier in the afternoon, you may catch some of the owls coming out to hunt. Look for the eerie whiteness of a barn owl, the chunky little owl or hear the haunting t’whit-t’woo of tawny owls.

Winter visitors: as the season progresses and the temperature drops you may be lucky to see some of the regular winter visitors to the woods and open areas – bramblings, fieldfares and redwings. Look out for the dandy waxwings perching high, chomping on rowan berries or hawthorns.

Netley’s wartime defences

In the peaceful Netley Woods, discover the line of six ‘Type 24’ pillboxes. These were built during the Second World War to defend London.

Explore Piney Copse

Venture slightly further afield and discover Piney Copse, a small, enchanting wood. This wood was once owned by the novelist, E. M. Forster.

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