Surrey, one of the Home Counties, varies greatly. In the north, much of the county is swallowed by suburban London, but it has miraculously succeeded in absorbing a dense commuter population without sacrificing its natural beauty. Within a short distance, wooded hills, open commons and heathland, sweep across the county. Picturesque villages remain unspoilt by their proximity to London.
It is easy to see the attraction of living here and has consequently resulted in some of the most expensive areas of housing in England, for example, St. George's Hill, Weybridge, where stockbrokers, footballers, rock stars and film stars, have their homes.
Surrey does not have a coastline, but is fortunate to contain the lower reaches of the River Thames as it makes its way to London. The Thames has featured in art and literature through the ages. The famous English landscape painters, J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds, both immortalised the view from Richmond Hill. Sir Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones, has a house at the top of the Hill.
Surrey is known as "leafy Surrey" and has many open spaces of commons and heathland. There is excellent public access throughout the county which, to some extent, has been secured by public funding and the ownership by The National Trust. Wide panoramas and good walking country are available at Box Hill, Leith Hill, Ranmore Common and Newlands Corner.
The North Downs are chalk hills, which provide the ground for the ancient track of the Pilgrim's Way, which starts at Winchester in Hampshire, enters Surrey at Farnham, leaves at the foot of Titsey Hill and carries on to Canterbury. The Downs height varies from 900 feet at Botley Hill in the east, to less than 500 feet on the Hogs Back, between Guildford and Farnham. The highest point in South-East England is Leith Hill, at 965 feet. Nestling amongst the Downs, are numerous enchanting villages, such as Shere, Abinger Hammer and Chiddingfold, all within easy access of the M25, London Orbital Motorway.
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Photos of Olympic Torch Relay, Richmond and The Gloriana. July 2012
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