The perfect blend of town and country, Horsham is a haven for foodies with two countryside gems – Chesworth Farm and Warnham Nature Reserve – just a short walk from the market town’s centre. Bringing the car? Award-winning woods, charming village pubs and the Downs Link off-road trail are yours for the taking. So escape the city for a weekend of walks in the fresh air, fantastic local food and West Sussex hospitality.
Ideal for: Couples, families, friends
Interests: Shopping, countryside, food and drink
Main areas: Horsham town, Chesworth Farm, Downs Link
Start your relaxing weekend with a stroll into town for Horsham Markets. Saturday is market day, and the pedestrianised cobbled Carfax area is buzzing with activity. There are plenty of stalls to choose from for lunch – regulars include The Pig & Jacket, Garlic Wood Farm and Box Trot, which serves up tacos with a twist. Pick up some fine local produce from Petworth’s Hungry Guest and Horsham’s very own Bangers Galore sausages too.
If there’s one thing Horsham loves, it’s a coffee shop. If it’s sunny, Crates Local and Panino have the best seats for soaking up the market atmosphere. Crates also stocks fresh local produce including gins, soft drinks, snacks and fruit and veg. Artisan Tea Rooms is a must for tea fans, with 30 loose-leaf blends to choose from. If chocolate is your passion, make a beeline for local chocolatiers Cocoa Loco in Swan Walk shopping centre for a hot chocolate or a mocha. Drawn to a light, bright, colourful interior? Chococo is the one for you.
Horsham is the perfect place for exploring. Pop into Horsham Museum (it’s free) to learn about the town’s interesting history, then make your way down the Causeway, one of the prettiest streets in West Sussex. This will take you to St Mary’s Church and the Garden of Remembrance, a garden founded and funded by local lady Nellie Laughton in memory of her husband and all those who died in World War 1.
By now, it’s surely time for an aperitif. You may have spotted a pub or two on your wander… Stop by The Anchor Tap on East Street to try beers by local brewers Dark Star, or Piries Bar to choose from a wide selection of gins for your perfect G&T.
East Street is where you’ll want to eat tonight. The top spot is Restaurant Tristan, a cosy Michelin-Star establishment with a stunning menu: make sure to book well in advance. Sussex chain Giggling Squid is perfect for Thai, while the Brewhouse Bar & Kitchen is a recent addition to the street and offers local beers and great pub grub.
Sundays are made for lazy breakfasts and countryside walks. If you’ve come by car, drive 10 minutes down the road to Stooks, a gorgeous barn conversion next to Newbridge Nurseries garden centre, for a slap-up start to the day. The menu is packed with options for all tastes – sweet-toothed visitors will love the granola sundae or waffles.
Now for the walk. By car, you can head to Leechpool Woods (chosen by the Guardian as one of the ‘best travel discoveries of 2017’) or the Downs Link. Park in Southwater and walk, run, or cycle this flat heritage trail, enjoying views of open fields and local wildlife. Around one mile north of Southwater on the Downs Link is the Bax Castle, a popular place to stop for a pint or a carvery.
If you took the train, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find there’s plenty of green space to explore in the town centre too. Warnham Nature Reserve and Chesworth Farm are both within walking distance and offer simply beautiful views: it’s no wonder Chesworth has been chosen as a ‘hidden gem’ by Horsham District Year of Culture 2019. You can easily spend an hour or two at either one. For a challenge, complete the 13-mile Riverside Walk, which starts at Warnham Nature Reserve, and passes through woodland, pastures and farmland, including the remains of a motte and bailey castle.