As we are unable to visit our house in France or travel anywhere else, I’m enjoying exploring our local area. I have always taken pleasure in walking in the Surrey Hills and even more in recent times.

We are very fortunate to be about 20 minutes drive from Winkworth Arboretum. It is always impressive at any time of the year but it definitely comes into its own in autumn.

The arboretum is run by the National Trust and has walks for all levels. Dogs are allowed on leads. A friend had booked our two hour slot before we knew the exact timing of the current lockdown. It was the last slot of the day and I have never known the arboretum to be so busy. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we (and our collies) were delighted to be there.

Spot the collie!

The story of the arboretum began in 1937. Professional dermatologist and amateur horticulturist, Dr Wilfrid Fox, bought the Thorncombe estate next to his country home. He saw the land as a canvas and began planting trees to ‘paint a picture’. Here are some of the shades he used to create his autumnal masterpiece:

We decided to ‘freestyle’ although there are set walks one can follow. Fox’s Autumnal Amble is one of them.

There is an amazing variety of trees and shrubs with plenty of helpful signs!

I love the photo below with a glimpse of Rowe’s Flashe Lake.

We headed for the boathouse at one end of the lake and took photos from inside.

We decided that all this walking was making us hungry and thirsty. So we headed to the outdoor tearoom but there was still time for one more shot of the autumn colours!

Delicious home-made cake, alongside our tea, was the end to a perfect afternoon!

Winkworth Arboretum will be open during lockdown, although I assume that the tearoom will be closed. Places have to be booked, of course!