The Surrey Hills; 'The place where London ends and England can begin'. That's what G.K Chesterton said about The Weald, the wider area to which, if we're getting pedantic, those Home County hills belong. It's that vast swathe of enshrined Green Belt land, the graphic accompaniment to so many gloomy news reports on the capital's housing crisis. And as anyone who's scaled The Shard's vertigo-inducing 72 floors will testify, on a clear day the green goodness of the Surrey Hills shimmer tantalisingly on the horizon. Perhaps because of their proximity to the capital (Coldharbour, the highest settlement lies just 26 miles to the south of Charing Cross), this affluent Home County isn't always the first name that springs to mind when looking for a truly off-grid camping destination. But make your way through the stockbroker belt – dominion of ageing rock gods' mock Tudor piles and footballers' Esher McMansions – and secreted within the salubrious surroundings of the Mole Valley is just the kind of rural retreat that's tailor-made for urban émigrés.
Plotted on 15 acres on the wooded fringes of the village of Westcott, Surrey Hills Yurts is the creation of garden designer David Seales and farming enthusiast partner Joanna. This project has been nearly two and a half years in the making, when the pair acquired the site with a vision to nurture a relaxing, rural hub for dropping down a gear from the fast pace of city life. The luxury yurts are the perfect hassle-free hideaway to hole up in and really immerse yourself in the surrounding sights and sounds of Mother Nature at her most dazzling.
Not surprisingly, there's a strong eco-awareness to David and Joanna's luxury offering, with compost loos and bio-degradable toiletries supplied to minimise the impact on this unspoiled environment. The site also hosts its own smallholding of prize Sussex cows and rare breed Gloucester Old Spot pigs – the well-reared meat of which you can enjoy sizzling over the BBQ during your stay. Be sure to stock up on the wealth of lovely artisan produce a stay in this part of the world affords.
A stay here isn't just about chilling in chic surroundings (though you're well inclined to recline as much as you want – particularly with massage therapy on offer). The myriad network of walking routes and cycle paths emanating from the site lead across the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to innumerable unmistakably English villages, all brimming with welcoming pubs and tea rooms for that well-earned post ramble pint (or scone). Bushcraft courses are run throughout the year too, with everything from willow weaving and wood carving to dye making, archery and ecology walks on offer. You can even learn to ride a horse and carriage, the very same one that can chauffeur you to the site from the nearest train station.
Surrey is an oasis of verdant hills less than an hour to the south of the capital. Surrey Hills AONB boasts innumerable lovely walks and cycle routes, including Box Hill, Leith Hill, Hindhead Commons and the Devil's Punch Bowl. The Westcott to Sutton Abinger cycle route is a gentle 9 mile circuit through some of the county's loveliest villages. Visit the Mole Valley Cycling forum for all the latest information on cycling in the area. Bike hire can be arranged through Joanna. You could even try your hand at carriage driving lessons with the neighbouring Daniel Brown. Pretty Dorking is the quintessential English market town. Its historic West Street is brimming with antique shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. The kids will love Bocketts Farm (01372 363764), a working family-run farm that both entertaining and educational. It boasts a menagerie of furry friends and there's also a play area and a farm shop selling lots of lovely farm-produced treats.
Basic provisions are included as well as tea, coffee and sugar. Guests can also pre order groceries from a range of local producers – Joanna can email a list of available goods to choose from, including meat, cheeses and chocolate, which will be waiting upon arrival. You can even pick up some rare-breed pork from the farm-reared Gloucester Old Spots pigs, perfect for grilling over the firepit. Pubwise, there's plenty of options of the gastro persuasion. The Plough Inn in Coldharbour is a charming 17th-century inn, while The Stephen Langton (01306 730775) in Friday Street is a local favourite, serving inventive pub grub classics. The Wotton Hatch (01306 887694) is another noteworthy gastro – buy a bottle of wine or a pitcher of beer and they'll give you some delicious bar nibbles for free. Forest Green's The Parrot Inn (01306 621339) serves elegant cuisine in surroundings to match. The Abinger Hatch (01306 730737) does a great Sunday roast and there's few better places to enjoy a cold beer on a hit day than their gorgeous beer garden. For those partial to a drop of vino, Denbies Wine Estate (01306 876 616) offers tours and tastings at its award-winning vineyard, England's largest.