We have a few ideas up our sleeves for cheap days out - and last March we took a little trip to Box Hill, near Dorking in Surrey.
It turned out to be a pretty hilarious day - but I'll explain more later......
Box Hill has fabulous views across the surrounding countryside from the viewpoint area at the top. We parked in the National Trust car park, be warned parking is £4 all day - but free if you are a National Trust member. Being me - and not considering how much parking would cost - I didn't have enough money, but you can pay by card in the visitors centre and cafe.
We chose to follow the stepping stones walk, which is around a two and a half mile stroll. First you will reach the viewpoint, which on a sunnier day would be a stunning point for a picnic with amazing views and a good spot for kite flying.
Following the path I think we lost count, but we went down over 300 steep steps (according to my girls) through the woods. Once you've reached the bottom, you will see the River Mole and the picturesque stepping stones going across it. Crossing the river we took the path to the right and headed alongside the river to a beautiful little bridge with weeping willows and blossom trees, it looked like a Japanese scene - very tranquil. We didn't cross the bridge, but kept following the stepping stones walk along the river.
This is where it gets good. By the riverside we spotted some rope swings hanging from huge trees over the water. Now, being sensible I had a bag of spare clothes for the kids - just in case one of them slipped off a stepping stone or fell in a puddle, or rolled in dog poo (this has happened twice).
Daddy (being a born entertainer) decides he's going to have a go on said swing - being March, and England, it's not that warm! I told my daughter to film it - ready for a You've Been Framed moment. I could see no easy way for him to swing back and land on the bank. Whoever put these ropes up obviously meant for them to be used on a summer's day - when plunging into the water wouldn't be quite such a big deal.
Well - he went for it! He swang..... and he stopped, dangling precariously above the River Mole, fully clothed! Cue lots of giggling and shouting "just swing Daddy - jump in!". Daddy swang for a while, I tried to climb down the bank and use my umbrella to reach him and pull him in. This didn't work - and ended up with my umbrella floating down the River Mole and Daddy still left dangling!
The filming stopped as the girls chased the umbrella down the river. Daddy cleverly managed to take off his trainers and socks and roll up his jeans before plunging - with a squeal - into the cold water. It was up to his thighs.
I have not laughed so much in a VERY long time! When asked would he do it again - YES he probably would.
The next uphill mile back to the car park, was done in wet jeans!
Box Hill really is a beautiful place to visit - and in the Easter holidays has Eater Egg Trails so do check out the National Trust website for details.
If you want to park nearer the stepping stones then park in Ryka's cafe by the Burford Bridge Hotel.
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