Why the Box Hill Natural Play Trail is so amazing for kids

Why the Box Hill Natural Play Trail is so amazing for kids

The Box Hill Natural Play Trail is the perfect place to let your kids run free and be at one with nature. We spent an afternoon at Box Hill whilst staying with my sister and her children in Surrey.

It was our first time visiting and I was amazed at the vast area of natural beauty that is so close to central London (approx. 30 km/19 miles), yet feels so far away.

Living in the Peak District, there is often a misconception that such places don’t exist near London.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - View

What Is Box Hill?

Box Hill is a summit in Surrey that forms part of the North Downs and is owned by the National Trust. I wondered whether its name had anything to do with its shape but in fact, it is due to its ancient box woodland which is now very rare. It’s also famous for being part of the 2012 Summer Olympic cycling route.

I was also amazed at how much there is to do! There are tons of walks of varying lengths and terrains, and plenty of sights to see. We could have stayed much longer if it hadn’t been for dusk setting upon us.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - woodland

How to get to Box Hill

You can catch a train to Dorking and then bus to the foot of Box Hill. From here you can walk the 1.5 miles up to the summit.

Or you can do what we did and drive up the zigzag road to the top where there are pay and display car parks.

Parking (for non-members) is £1.50 per hour for the first 2 hours; £4 for up to 4 hours and £6 for 5 hours and above.

Postcode for the sat nav is KT20 7LB.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - car park

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Here’s why we loved it so much…

Box Hill Natural Play Trail is free!

Like us, many parents are constantly looking for free things to do with kids. The cost of attraction admissions, parking and food for a day out can really add up.

Free things to do with kids are often outdoor walks, which some may think is boring for kids. Well, the Natural Play Trail is certainly not boring and will keep your kids busy, having fun for hours.

You can make it as long or as short as you like and it’s completely free (apart from a small charge for parking).


Box Hill Natural Play Trail is perfect for letting the kids loose!

Keeping the kids at home all day can often result in them bouncing off the walls and driving you crazy!

Luckily our girls are not too bad, they will happily play for a good chunk of time but I don’t think it does anyone any good to stay cooped up all day.

When we did the Box Hill Natural Play Trail, I literally felt like we could just let them loose to do whatever they wanted. It’s a perfectly safe environment for them to run around, burn off some energy, shout and just enjoy themselves…

Happy kids = happy parents!

Whilst the kids were expelling their energy, we enjoyed a relaxing stroll watching them have fun and admiring the natural beauty of the place.

Why choose the Natural Play Trail?

You may choose to just wander around, or you can choose one of the many trails offering different lengths and routes.

You can pick up a map from the visitor centre or information hut (shepherd hut). Each map provides directions and things to look out for along the way.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - natural play trail

There are also coloured or signed marker posts along the way to guide you in the right direction.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - markers

We chose the Box Hill Natural Play Trail because it is a suitable walk for the whole family being just 2 miles long and a nice level terrain.

You can take a standard pushchair around the trail but an all-terrain pushchair would be better suited particularly in wetter months when the ground is muddy.

Unless you have a child that is too young to walk or is sleeping, I very much doubt they will want to sit in their pushchair when there is so much fun to be had. Our 2 year old walked most of the way only carrying her for short stints.

For babies, I have always recommended the BabyBjorn carrier which I used to take my girls all over the place in when they were small.

There is something so nice about getting out and about, often in places where you can’t take pushchairs and having your baby secured so snuggly and close to you.

Top Tip – dress the kids in old clothes and wellies

We visited in autumn and the ground wasn’t too wet, so some of us managed ok in trainers. However, I would recommend taking wellies in case it is muddy. I would also recommend the kids wear old clothes as they won’t be able to resist climbing.

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - climbing trees
Box Hill Natural Play Trail - branches

The kids will have an adventure as you make your way around the trail. There are stepping stones, archways, tunnels, tree roots, log bridges, seesaws, wigwams and other play areas and it’s all constructed from wood. Even our 2 year was climbing, jumping, crawling and swinging… but then again so were the adults!

Box Hill Natural Play Trail - wigwam
Box Hill Natural Play Trail - archway
Box Hill Natural Play Trail - tree roots
Box Hill Natural Play Trail - log fort
Box Hill Natural Play Trail - sitting in the tree

Other self-guided trails at Box Hill

Other things to do at Box Hill

Where to eat at Box Hill

There is a café serving drinks and refreshments but there are also plenty of places to stop and have a picnic.

We only went for the afternoon so didn’t plan on eating there. We went for dinner on the way home at the Wheatsheaf in Esher, which I would highly recommend – great food and great for kids.

It’s just under half an hour drive from Box Hill – postcode KT10 8AG.

Our Verdict

Box Hill is a beautiful place to visit regardless of whether you just want a leisurely stroll and picnic or want to take on a more enduring hike across the North Downs.

The Nature Play Trail is brilliant for kids, allowing them to spend hours of fun exercising their bodies (it’s also great for their physical development).

After cutting our visit short, we will definitely be back to try out the other circular trails and see the woodland and countryside at different times of the year.

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