I’ve lived happily in West Sussex for nearly 20 years and it still amazes me when people say they’ve never visited the region. The natural beauty, endless opportunities to connect with nature and wildlife and wealth of outdoor experiences on offer still inspire me. I love the coastal connection to the countryside: the South Downs and High Weald through to easy access to the South Coast and some stunning beaches creates a feeling of having the best of all worlds.
There’s beautiful countryside, access to vibrant towns and cities, all in close proximity to London with excellent transport links. You’re never more than a 20-minute drive from a lovely country pub and walking trails, such as National Trust’s Saddlescombe Farm and Newtimber walk. Afterwards you can head to the Ginger Fox at Albourne, one of my favourites, particularly in the summer when you can sit in the sunny garden and take in the views across the fields to Devil’s Dyke.
If you’ve never visited the region I’d seek out the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Horsham and Cuckfield. William’s Wood, close to Warninglid, is a lovely spot if you want to experience some typical woodland, farms and parkland. There are well-connected footpaths that take you on peaceful trails through the ancient forest – it’s the perfect place to escape.
While you’re here, head to the High Weald Dairy, a fantastic cheese producer that has won Sussex Food Producer of the Year twice. It’s close to Haywards Heath station so access is really convenient. It offers cheese making courses, which are a great way of discovering more about this friendly local dairy and connecting with its unique downland location. Lunch is included in the course, so you get to sample its products too.
West Sussex is a relaxed, eclectic, picturesque and unexpected gem. Follow your nose and the chances are you’ll find some unexpected natural delights along the way.