1. Sheffield Park and Garden
In the autumn, Sheffield Park and Garden near Uckfield bursts into stunning colour as the leaves turn myriad shades of russet, purple, and gold. Stunning areas of immaculately landscaped gardens give way to historic woodland and 250 acres of parkland to explore, while four tranquil lakes reflect the dazzling displays of autumnal colour from the trees. The Grade 1 listed garden was planted for this magical season – in the early 20th century the owner Arthur Soames introduced many of the plant species which now create this splendid seasonal spectacle. As you stroll around, stop and listen and you might just hear the sound of steam trains approaching on the Bluebell Railway, transporting you back to a gentler time.
2. Ashdown Forest and Pooh walk
Ashdown Forest is nestled in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty between Crowborough, Forest Row and is well known to our colleagues there! It is one of the largest free public access spaces in the South East. Fallow and roe deer still roam this former Norman deer-hunting ground, and visitors now flock to the Forest to enjoy the spectacular views as autumn changes the colour of the scenery along the wooded hills of the Weald to the chalk escarpments of the North Downs and South Downs. The 6500 acres of heathland and ancient woodland create the perfect environment for taking one or a combination of the mapped walks during the misty days of autumn. What makes it even more special is that Ashdown Forest is also famously the home of Winnie-the-Pooh. Take the spectacular ‘Pooh’ walk through woodland and explore the haunts of A.A. Milne's bear of little brain and his friends.
3. Devil’s Dyke
Rising up impressively from the South Downs and just five miles north of Brighton, lies the legendary and mysterious landscape of Devil’s Dyke. Boasting England’s most colourful habitat which really comes to its visual peak in autumn, the breathtaking view was once described by the artist John Constable as the “grandest view in the world”. The mile-long valley, the longest and deepest in the UK, was formed in the last ice age over 10,000 years ago (although rumour has it that it was dug by the Devil himself to drown the parishioners of the Weald…). As you ascend the hill, you can spot the remnants of the Iron Age hill fort’s ramparts, and the remains of a Victorian funfair can be found just outside the car park. Various trails take you on walks with magnificent views of the Downs, the Weald, and the sea, while in autumn, guided funghi hunts take place in the open downland and woodland.
4. Parham House and Gardens
Parham House and Gardens in Pulborough is beautifully set within 875 acres in the South Downs. Its 16th century deer park, Pleasure Grounds and four-acre Walled Garden make Parham a wonderful place for a leisurely weekend ramble. In autumn, the gardens’ lilies, roses and lupins create a profusion of stunning autumnal colour. The beautiful herbaceous borders, glasshouse, and a 1920s Wendy House create the atmosphere of a timeless place that has changed little for many years. The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is epitomised in Parham’s orchard, where the trees hang heavily with fruits including damson, pear, plum, greengage, and quince. The Rose Garden’s stone paths take the visitor on a floral tour that’s a visual feast for the eyes, while the Wendy House, built by Clive Pearson in 1928 for his three daughters, is a delightful child-sized two-storey cottage built into the garden wall with its own oak front door and wrought iron balcony.
5. Borde Hill Garden
Named by Country Life magazine as ‘One of the country’s truly great gardens’, Borde Hill Garden in Haywards Heath sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which affords incredible views over the Sussex Weald and the Ouse Valley. The 200 acres of garden, parkland and woodland are a treat for the senses - a riot of rich colour and intense scent, perfect for an autumn day out. The grounds are planted with trees, shrubs and perennial plant species gathered by plant hunters from all around the world in the 1700s. To the north west of the garden lies the splendid Warren Wood which is planted with spruces and pines from Japan and China, a Himalayan Juniper, and cypresses and pines from America. Stephanie’s Glade to the west is home to many rare trees which, along with those in the South Park, put on a spectacular display come the autumn.