I’m lucky enough to call the Knepp Estate near Billingshurst home, a beautiful area that is owned by the Burrell family and home to the largest rewilding project in lowland Europe.
One of the highlights of the region is the Downs Link, a 37-mile route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way. The West Grinstead Old Station information point, not far from the Knepp Estate, has plenty of recommendations for picnic spots along the way should you want to pack a hamper full of local treats and head to the hills. The walk behind the village of Storrington offers stunning views and the Downs give you a wonderful sense of perspective.
For me, West Sussex is all about the food. More and more food producers are coming to the region and there’s an emergence of some real hero brands. On a trip to Horsham – less than an hour away from London – visitors will find the Anchor Tap pub, owned by local independent brewers, Dark Star Brewery; it’s a proper British pub, with friendly locals, a wide range of locally brewed beer and good quality homemade food on the menu.
Visit the farmer’s market on Saturday to sample the best brownies around made by Just Brownies – they’re absolutely delicious and worth the trip alone. The Quarter is a great place for a wander and hosts the Horsham English Festival in early May, which always includes performances from traditional Morris Dancers.
Just outside Horsham and less than 10 minutes apart by car, there are two places visitors shouldn’t miss. In the morning you can tuck in to a proper truckers fry up at The Chalet Transport café just south of Cowfold, then in the afternoon you can enjoy a pint and lazy lunch in an unspoilt traditional boozer, The Royal Oak in Wineham. If you love independent food producers and outstanding local produce, you’ll be spoilt for choice in West Sussex.