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GV of Dorking, UK

10 really great things to do in Dorking

With superb country pubs, off-kilter shops and walking paths galore, Dorking and nearby Box Hill are perfect for a weekend getaway

Joe Minihane
Written by
Emma Hughes
&
Joe Minihane
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Easily overlooked in favour of the hugely hyped Cotswolds, the Surrey Hills offer the ideal break from London. It’s just a short train ride to Dorking, a Georgian market town with bags of independent spirit, which makes the perfect base for exploring nearby Box Hill and the myriad shops, cafés and pubs in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its proximity to London also means it’s ideal for anyone looking for a spontaneous day out. Here are the best things to do in Dorking right now.

RECOMMENDED: Explore more things to do nearby in Surrey, Kent and Hampshire  

Best things to do in Dorking

First up

First up

Stretch your legs at Box Hill. Whether you’re in the mood for a short stroll or the full eight-mile round trip, check out the National Trust’s series of walking routes, one of which takes in the picturebook-pretty stepping stones across the River Mole. Expect to spot orchids, butterflies and even a colony of giant snails.

Soak up the vibes
Helen Dixon

Soak up the vibes

Tired already? The bus from Box Hill to Dorking takes just 15 minutes. On your way, stop off at Denbies Wine Estate. One of the UK’s largest producers, its vineyard has spirit-lifting views over the North Downs. Book a tour and you’ll get to trundle around it in a tiny train with a glass of sparkling wine in hand.

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Stop for lunch

Stop for lunch

Sorrel has built a reputation as the area’s hottest restuarant. Its revolving three-course set lunch menu is worth making the trip for. Expect the likes of venison tartare and brill with seaweed, plus loads of delicious small plates, including truffled cheese on toast. La Cucina serves stunning Italian food – just be sure to build in some time for a post-lunch rest after all that pasta.

Go on an adventure
Sam Dawson

Go on an adventure

Book a spine-chilling tour of the South Street Caves. Right in the town centre, this network of tunnels was dug out in the seventeenth century. At its heart is a mysterious chamber with seating carved out around it. For religious rituals or something more sinister? Nobody knows, but lit by flickering candles, it’s pretty spooky.

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Hit the shops
Willy Barton/Shutterstock

Hit the shops

Incredible antiques stores are Dorking’s stock in trade. But we suggest indulging your inner craftsperson at The Fluff-a-Torium, a brilliantly bonkers treasure trove of yarns, felts, buttons, glitter, take-home kits and more. 

 

If you only do one thing

If you only do one thing

Stop for a pint in one of Surrey’s loveliest pubs. Back towards Box Hill, sixteenth-century The Running Horses at Mickleham is much loved by cyclists and dog-walkers for its history (it used to be a stable for the nearby Epsom Derby), views and strong craft beer selection.  

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Rest your weary walking legs – and keep those serene green vibes alive – with a stay in a super-cute Regency-style villa surrounded by formal grounds, woodlands and the Surrey Hills. Garden Cottage is on the estate of grand Edwardian retreat Polesden Lacey, right next to the rose gardens. It’s all run by the National Trust and cottage guests get free use of the huge house’s croquet courts and the gardens out of hours, too. Inside the quirky cottage, you’ll find three bedrooms, an open fire and a rolltop bath for soaking away any stubborn city stresses. Polesden Lacey, Surrey. From £449 for two nights. 

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