Family walks in Surrey by water

by Jan

With its choice of two rivers, canals and numerous lakes, Surrey offers plenty of opportunities to walk near water.  And what better way to explore these stunning waterways than on foot?  Come with us to discover some of our favourite family walks in Surrey by water.

In our pick of riverside walks in Surrey, we’ll share our pick of walks that everyone can try.  From family-friendly strolls to more challenging circular walks, we have a fantastic choice of Surrey walks, and they are all tried and tested by us. Some are long and some are short, but they are all picturesque, with spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife.

Here’s our guide to 7 amazing waterside walks in Surrey, plus a good choice of riverside pubs too!

Basingstoke Canal

One of the best places to go for a family walk in north-west Surrey is by the Basingstoke Canal.  Built between 1788 and 1794, the Basingstoke Canal is one of Surrey’s most picturesque stretches of water. It flows from Greywell Village in Hampshire to Woodham in Surrey and is ideal for a family walk, as it’s so flat.

The Basingstoke Canal is 32 miles long and so you can choose which section you wish to walk and your distance.  We usually start at Frimley Park Lodge and walk south towards Mychett.  This route passes the Basingstoke Canal Centre, where you can stop to find out about the canal’s history, play in the playground or even hire a boat or pedalo.

View of a Line of Basingstoke Canal Boats from tow path

The postcode for Frimley Lodge Park is GU16 6HY.  Parking is free.  If you are walking with children, don’t forget to stop at the new adventure playground on your return.

Frensham Ponds & Devil's Jumps

Children at Frensham Pond family walk, Surrey

You have a choice of two circular walks at Frensham Ponds, in Surrey.  Here you’ll find two historic ponds, Little Pond and Great Pond.  These picturesque ponds were built in the Middle Ages, to provide fish for the Bishop of Winchester.

Frensham Ponds is easily accessible from Hindhead or Farnham via the A287 and there is parking at both ponds.  The postcode for Frensham Little Pond is GU10 3TB and for the Frensham Great Pond is GU10 2QB.

Frensham Little Pond

Little Frensham Pond is one of the prettiest National Trust walks in Surrey and is an ideal walk with kids, as it’s flat and accessible.  It takes about 45 minutes to walk around the pond and there is a café, if you want to stop afterwards.

The walk follows a sandy path through heathland and woodland.  It is a designated SSSI area, because of its wildlife habitats and half-way around, there is a bird hide to spot water birds.

Devil's Jumps Circular Walk

If you want to extend your walk, you can hike across the heathland of Farnham Common to the little village of Churt. It is a flat route, but there is one steep ascent up the hills, known as the Devil’s Jumps.  Legend says that it was here that the Devil jumped from one hill to another.

Nowadays, the Devil’s Jumps provide walkers with spectacular views across the Surrey Hills.  This circular route is about 6 miles (9.5 km) in total, so is not advisable if you have very little children.

Two boys looking out at view from Devil's Jumps Hills, Surrey

You could extend your journey even further with a visit to the Sculpture Park in Churt, where you will find over 6000 sculptures in a woodland setting.  This is a really great place to visit, but will add another 2 miles to your journey, as there is lots of walking to do inside the park.  If you need to stop for refreshments, The Bel and Dragon pub is just opposite the Sculpture Park.

Find full details of this Fancy Free walk here.

Frensham Great Pond

As the name suggests, Frensham Great Pond is the slightly bigger of the two. It is particularly popular in summer, as it provides the only beach in Surrey.  Even better, you can swim in the Great Pond.  The walk around Frensham Great Pond is about 1.5 miles.

The vistas at both Frensham Ponds are beautiful at any time of the year, but Great Pond gets very busy during hot weather because of its beach.  On a summer’s day visitors flock to Frensham Ponds, so you need to go early if you want to get a space.

Lightwater Country Park

Lilly pad filled lake at Lightwater Country Park, Surrey

If you are looking for family walks near Woking or Camberley, head for Lightwater Country Park.

The country park spreads over 59 hectares and boasts a variety of landscapes, including heathland, woods, and lakes.  All of these provide a wonderful natural environment, with plenty of wildlife, birds, and insects.

You will find a choice of waymarked trails at Lightwater Country Park.  The easiest of the trails is the Easy Access Trail, which follows around Hammonds Pond and woodland.   It’s a very scenic route and there are plenty of waterfowl on the water.

If you want a longer walk, follow the purple trail.  This is a circular walk of about 1.8 miles and takes about an hour.  There is one steep ascent from the car park, which leads to the top of Curley Hill.  From this viewpoint, you will get views across Woking, Guildford, and London.  You can extend this walk by linking onto the orange trail or following the fitness trail at the start.

Lightwater Country Park is a great place to go with kids near Woking, as they have just redeveloped the adventure playground.  The country park also has its own café, mini golf and leisure centre.

Read moreExploring Lightwater Country Park

Lightwater Country Park is easily accessible from the M3 (junction 3) or you could come from Guildford or Woking on A322.  The only downside of this lovely place is that there is some background noise from the motorway.

Virginia Water Lake

One of the most popular family walks in Surrey is around Virginia Water Lake, near Sunningdale in northern Surrey.  This large manmade lake is part of the Windsor Great Park Estate.

Historically, Virginia Water Lake was used by the royals as a royal playground.  However, nowadays it is open to the public and is one of the most popular outdoor spaces by water.

The walk round Virginia Water Lake is about 4.5 miles.  The trail is completely flat and very accessible.  It is a perfect walk for children, as there is so much to see on the way.  From a waterfall to Roman ruins and a 100 ft totem pole, there is enough to keep little people entertained.  Plus, there are plenty of trees to hide in and climb.

Virginia Water Lake, Egham, Surrey, UK

As well as being a favourite family day out for families in Surrey, the lake is also frequented by runners, cyclists, and nature lovers.  In addition to the unique historic features, Virginia Water lake is surrounded by ancient trees and plants.  Keen walkers can extend their walk to the Valley Gardens or continue to Savill Garden.

Virginia Water Lake is easily accessible from the A30.  Admission is free, but you do have to pay for the car park.  The main car park is next to the Wheatsheaf Pub, but there is alternative parking at Blacknest Road.

Silent Pool at Albury

Tree lined clear waters at Silent Pool, Albury, Surrey

If you are looking for a picturesque circular walk in the Surrey Hills, head for Silent Pool at Albury near Guildford.

This walk starts at the car park on Shere Road. From here, it’s a direct path to Sherbourne Pond, which leads on to the mysterious Silent Pool.  Legend says that a young girl drowned in the pool, whilst trying to escape from that unwanted advances of King John.  Unfortunately, her brother drowned shortly after when he rushed to her aide.

Today, Silent Pool can be viewed from a wooden viewing platform and reveals nothing of its sinister past.

The walk from Silent Pool starts with a very steep incline up a hill.  It is very tough-going and not accessible to all.  However, at the top it levels off and the trail follows a flat, wooded trail along the waymarked North Downs Way.

Eventually, you can head downhill into the pretty village of Shere.  Here you will find quaint gift shops, cafés, and a couple of country pubs.  Two very popular pubs in Shere Lane are The William Bray and The White Horse.

There is a small car park at Silent Pool and parking is free.  The postcode is GU5 9BW.  Silent Pool car park is accessible from the Shere Road on the A25, between Guildford and Dorking.

If you are walking without children, you might want to extend your visit with a trip to the Silent Pool Gin Distillery

River Tillingbourne at Shere

The Shere Trail starts in the pretty Surrey village of Shere and follows the Tillingbourne River.  The walk is about 3 miles (5km).

This circular walk starts at the bridge in the village centre and leads through Silver Wood to Albury Park.  As well as the beautiful countryside, one of the highlights of the walk is the 17th Century Old Prison.

The postcode for Shere Car Park is GU5 9HE, which is just off Upper Street.  There is a recreation ground, with very small play area next to the car park.  There are also 2 pubs, which I mentioned earlier.

Find directions for the Shere Trail here.

Ducks on River Tillingbourne at Shere

River Thames at Shepperton

Canal boat waiting at Shepperton lock, Surrey

One of the best riverside walks in Surrey is along the River Thames in Shepperton.

Park at Shepperton Lock,  then follow the tow path towards Chertsey Meads. The return journey is about 3.5 miles in total, but you could continue to Laleham or Staines if you prefer a longer walk.

As well as seeing the lock in action, you can expect to see lots of boats and birds, especially Canada geese.  You may even see cows in the field (and river) in Dempsey Meadow, just before you reach Chertsey Bridge.

This is also one of the great pub walks in Surrey, as shortly after starting, you will pass Thames Court Pub. This family-friendly pub has a large outside garden with good views of the Thames.  Alternatively, you could stop half-way at the Kingfisher Pub by Chertsey Bridge.

The Postcode for Shepperton Lock Car Park is TW17 9LJ.

Another option for walking along the Thames Path in Surrey is at Runnymede, where you can also stop to see the famous Magna Carta Memorial.  Alternatively, you could take the riverside walk from Walton-on-Thames to Hampton Court.

River Wey at Pyrford Lock

This is another popular circular pub walk in Surrey, which starts at the car park near Newark Lock in Pyrford (off B367).

It is a scenic walk across fields and back along the towpath.  It is very flat and family-friendly and has lots of points of interest.  You will see two locks, Pyrford Lock and Newark Lock and also Ripley Weir.

There’s a short stretch of walk along a road, which takes you to the pretty St Nicholas Church in Pyrford.  Then, you’ll have to cross through two cemeteries, before crossing the road to get to the fields.  Later, you will also pass the Elizabethan summer house of the 16th Century poet John Donne and see the ruins of Newark Priory in the distance.

This is another of the popular pub walks in Surrey, as The Anchor Pub overlooks Pyrford Lock.  However, as you’d imagine, this gets very busy on a sunny day.

View of Pyrford Priory from river side, Surrey, England

Blackwater River in Camberley

Trees reflected in water at Shepherds Meadows

If you are looking for waterside walks near Camberley, head for the Blackwater River.  If you start at the car park in Shepherd Meadows, you can do a circular walk that will take you to Sandhurst Memorial Park.

Just before you get to Sandhurst Park, you will come to a picturesque balancing pond.  This is a really pretty pond, where you will see a wide range of water birds.

Once at the park, families will find an extensive play area.  As well as a large playground, it has playing fields, a skate park and multi-sport area.  If you plan to stop for a play, Sandhurst Park has toilets and Pistachios Cafe.

Shepherd Meadows is a nature conservation area covering 40 hectares of lowland meadow and woodland.  It is a very pretty area and has been recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the nature.  The trail is flat and accessible to buggies and wheelchairs.  It’s also ideal as a family cycle route.

There is a free car park on Marshall Road (A321), which is just past the large Tesco’s.  The circular walk is about 1.6 miles and takes about an hour, if you don’t stop at the park!

How to get there

Thank you for reading about our favourite walks in Surrey by water.  Have you tried any of them?  Or maybe you have favourite walks of your own?  Please feel free to comment below.

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