The quintessentially English weekender

Explore West Sussex’s pretty villages and gardens.

With its cricket green, duck pond and picture-perfect cottages, Lindfield is a quintessential English village. Combine an overnight stay with a trip to Wakehurst, boasting perfectly manicured gardens and the world’s largest seed conservation project

Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Quaint villages, nature, walking, shopping, conservation
Main areas: Haywards Heath, Lindfield, Ardingly, West Hoathly, Horsted Keynes

Day One

  1. Haywards Heath train station is the closest mainline station to the quaint Sussex village of Lindfield, taking around 40 minutes from London. But it’s best to come by car if you really want to make the most of everything this area has to offer. With its cricket green and pavilion, duck pond surrounded by picture-perfect cottages and charming high street, this is a very English village indeed.
  2. You can easily spend a morning wandering around the village, before stopping off for lunch at Field and Forrest Deli or the classic old-school bakery Humphrey’s (take note: the jam doughnuts are to die for, even if you’re not a doughnut fan).
  3. If visiting in April, June, July, September or November, don’t miss the Ardingly Antiques and Collectors Fair, the biggest event of its kind in the south east and just 15 minutes down the road. If you’re here in June, make a date with the South of England Show, an agricultural show that celebrates the best of the British countryside and turns 50 this year.
  4. Bed down for the night at The Cat in West Hoathly, five miles from Lindfield and nestled deep in the Sussex Weald. Owned by Andrew Russell, former general manager of nearby Gravetye Manor, you can expect fine food, a cosy bar area and very warm welcome.

Day Two

  1. After breakfast, make sure you wander through the churchyard to admire the view from the second highest village in Sussex; looking across the Weald and South Downs is truly breath-taking.
  2. You can’t come to this part of the world and not take in the cultural hotspots and grand country houses that are dotted all over. Don’t be afraid to ask your knowledgeable hosts for their top picks, they’re very friendly.
  3. If you want to experience steam train travel from a bygone era, why not book a seat on the Bluebell Railway, a 15-minute drive from The Cat? Departing from the perfectly preserved Horsted Keynes station, this is an unforgettable ride.
  4. If you prefer to explore English country gardens and grand stately homes, you’re spoilt for choice. The local area is blessed with a plethora of attractions and places to visit, including Wakehurst and Borde Hill Gardens near Cuckfield. Owned by London’s Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, Wakehurst near Ardingly is a sprawling country estate with formal and ornamental gardens, a kitchen garden, nature reserve, vast woodlands and diverse wildlife. It has a packed-programme of events throughout the year and is also home to the Millennium Seed Bank, the world’s largest wild plant seed bank.
  5. It’s wheelchair friendly, buggy friendly and child friendly and is really easy to navigate. Once a year, it plays host to the magical Glow Wild winter lantern festival, a beguiling candlelit spectacular that’s well worth the trip. But you’ll need to book tickets in advance as it sells out quickly.