For months now, the sign towards Wakehurst Place has caught my eye as we drive into Brighton on the A23. I wanted to see what it was all about and as we arrived on a bright, sunny day – it made me think yet again that there’s so much in Sussex than coastal beaches. Particularly in the West Sussex area near to Haywards Heath and Uckfield, you’ll find the cutest villages with picture perfect green that reminds me of Midsomer Murders. It seems a long way from the townhouses in Brighton.
Wakehurst Place is located in the village of Ardingly, just outside Haywards Heath and is 45 minutes from Brighton. It was easy to find as it is well sign-posted as you leave the A23, though you can also take a shortcut and drive through Wivelsfield and Ditchling, which is marginally quicker. As we arrived, I saw that Wakehurst Place is a Kew Botanical Garden (I had thought initially it was a National Trust site) and I was really looking forward to seeing the flowers that I know Emma loves.
There is plenty to see inside, with a wooden playarea for the younger children and a pathway to a big lake with lots of ducks and swans. As soon as we found it, Emma was mesmerised and fed the ducks while watching them for about half an hour! Opposite the lake was Wakehurst Place itself, which looked so beautiful. My favourite part was walking through the Loder Valley Nature Reserve through the most magnificent trees and fallen leaves. It was the most autumnal place we have visited in the last month and both Emma and I loved picking leaves from the ground to bring home and show Daddy.
As we approached the Wakehurst Place building, we saw a big garden of flowers outside, with buzzing bees all around them. I thought this was so beautiful and Emma really enjoyed having a look around and naming the colours of each of the flowers. There were also plenty of benches where you could perch and have a snack, if you wanted to. We decided to head into the main building for a bite to eat before heading home.
The restaurant and cafe were perfect for children – they served a big selection of hot and cold lunch options, with tea and coffee being served too. It was a relief to go somewhere with such a variety of things to choose from and I decided to have a quiche and salad, while Emma had a sandwich and Pom Bear crisps with some shortbread afterwards (our days out tradition!). As you can see from the pictures, it’s just a beautiful place and we’re already planning our Christmas trip with the boys as we have heard it is just magical with fairy lights on the trees.
Here’s a little video of our afternoon in the sunshine and we’d love if you had a look on our YouTube channel too!
Wakehurst Place is located off the A23 in Ardingly, West Sussex. Adult admission is £12.50 each, which includes onsite parking and children can enter for free.