Surrey Wildlife Trust's James Adler on his perfect Surrey weekend

As grazing manager for Surrey Wildlife Trust, James Adler knows the Surrey countryside as well as anyone. Here, he reveals some of his favourite weekend spots

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2012

As grazing manager for Surrey Wildlife Trust, James Adler knows the Surrey countryside as well as anyone. Here, he reveals some of his favourite weekend spots

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My job sees me out and about all over the county checking Surrey Wildlife Trust’s herd of 240 ‘Belted Galloway’ cattle. Our animals do conservation work across our 8,000-hectare estate that we can’t replicate in any other way. It means I also get to see the whole kaleidoscope of habitats that our stunning county has to offer.

We do truly live on the town/country divide in Surrey, so I meet a lot of people on my travels. I met my favourite when I was coming back to the home farm and found a man running after the cows. I asked him what he was up to and he sheepishly took off his hat and explained that he had male pattern baldness. He had read on the internet that if he could get a cow to lick his head, his hair would grow back! I don’t think he managed to get a cow to help him but he certainly gave me a few grey hairs!

Being out and about so much during the week makes me treasure the amount of time I get at home. A weekend starts in the Black Swan in Ockham so long as I can fit my car in the car park amongst all the Ferraris and Zondas! This lovely pub has been completely transformed from when I first knew it ten years ago and is very welcoming.

Walks on Wisley CommonI can’t stay in bed long over the weekend; I live on our home farm at Wisley Common and get up to see how the animals are getting on. As I stumble downstairs, I hear Bess, my dog, pawing at the door, desperate to move the squirrels off the bird feeders. I get the wood burning stove raging again, make a cup of tea for my still slumbering wife and head off onto Wisley Common with Bess. Early on, we have this beautiful place all to ourselves and can watch dragonflies shaking off the dew as they wake up, buzzards lifting off and wood crickets buzzing in the sun.

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If we’re feeling particularly awake, we’ll walk over the A3 bridge onto Ockham Heath and make our way up to the Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower. This beautiful 19th century building, now a museum, is the last in the line of towers that flashed messages between the Admiralty in London and the fleet in Portsmouth. The views from the top are well worth the climb as you can see central London but also how Surrey is the most wooded county in England.

Lately, I’ve been home early in the evenings to catch Strictly Come Dancing; I can’t begin to work out why I like it so much; I just know I can’t miss it! After that, the evening can take me anywhere, from the lovely Royal Oak pub near Pirbright with its great beer garden to the buzz of Guildford high street.

For me, the best thing about Surrey is that it has whatever I am after – from great entertainment and people to some of the most beautiful and quiet green spaces in the south east. I’m just incredibly lucky that my job and my passion are to look after them.

For more information about Surrey Wildlife Trust, visit