The Petworth and Midhurst weekender

Antique hunting in Petworth, survival at Cowdray.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of an antiques expert, Petworth is the perfect stop-off. Surrounded by the stunning Petworth Park and Cowdray Estate, lovers of nature, culture, food and art will be in heaven

Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Historic West Sussex villages, nature, conservation, food & drink, art, antiques
Main areas: Petworth, Midhurst, Billingshurst, Pulborough

Day one

  1. The stunning market town of Petworth is like something out of a fairy tale. Nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park, close to Midhurst and Billingshurst, it’s a must-see destination when visiting West Sussex. Make sure you book an overnight stay in the area to really get under its skin.
  2. If travelling by train, Pulborough is the closest railway station, just 10 minutes away by car or taxi. Petworth is famous for its antiques shops and is known as ‘the antiques centre of the south’ with over 30 dealers in the town ready to sell you everything from a pair of Scandinavian tub chairs to a priceless Queen Anne desk.
  3. Dominating the town is the beautiful Petworth House and Deer Park – you’ll see the walls all around separating the town from the grand 700-acre estate. After perusing the antique shops, cafes and boutiques, spend some time walking through the vast deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown.
  4. When you’re done with exploring the town, rest your weary head at The Old Railway Station Hotel, formerly Petworth Railway Station and now a charming hotel. When else will you have the opportunity to stay in a stunningly-restored station building that dates back to 1892 or an old Pullman train carriage that was built in 1912? A truly unique experience.

Day two

  1. This is one of the most beautiful parts of West Sussex, so ensure you use the whole day to explore properly. Pick up the A272 heading towards Petersfield and within 15 minutes you’ll arrive in Midhurst, another West Sussex gem that is worthy of a stop-off. There are no train stations along the route, so buses are the best option if using public transport. Your hosts will be able to advise on times and frequency.
  2. Midhurst is home to the famous Spread Eagle Hotel, part of the Historic Sussex Hotels group. Treat yourself to an early lunch or maybe book in for a spa treatment if you’re feeling the need to escape it all and indulge in some pampering.
  3.  The Cowdray Estate is centred around Midhurst and sprawls across much of this region – you can spot the estate houses by their bright yellow window frames. Don’t miss a trip to Cowdray, an area of around 16,500 acres of which 36% is woodland; that’s three times the national average.
  4. Walk, cycle, watch polo, discover nature, play golf, stay in one of the self-catering estate houses, visit the spa or if you fancy something a little more exhilarating, why not sign up to the Bear Grylls Survival Academy? This is a 24-hour outdoor adventure where you and the whole family can learn extreme survival techniques. You never know when they might come in handy, right? Car is the best mode of transport, but regular buses also stop near the park.
  5. After all that exertion, you’ll need some sustenance before heading home. Selling and serving produce from the Cowdray Estate, the Cowdray Farm Shop Café is a pleasant spot to enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake. West Sussex is certainly a tough place to leave – so make sure you book your return visit soon.