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Top Things to do in West Sussex

West Sussex hill landscape West Sussex hill landscape

Enjoy the best the local area has to offer with a selection of unmissable things to see and do.

DAY 1 - Wildlife-rich woodlands and beautiful gardens

Though London, Gatwick Airport, and the south coast’s biggest cities are all within easy reach, West Sussex is a rural idyll – with lush rolling hills, wildliferich woodlands, and large swathes of the South Downs National Park and High Weald AONB inside its borders. The British Wildlife Centre (1) is a great introduction: here you can get up-close with red squirrels, spy wildcats, and watch otters wallowing in the wetlands. Afterwards, you’ll see nearby Harewoods (2) in a new light: its untamed meadows and forest are teeming with birds and critters you might not have spotted before, so bring a picnic and explore its many walking trails. There are beautiful manicured gardens close by, too: such as Borde Hill’s 100-year-old rhododendrons (3), Nymans’ exquisite roses and woodlands (4), and Sheffield Park’s lake-studded lawns (5). Wakehurst (6) is home to the Millennium Seed Bank and wild botanic gardens, both of which are open to the public. And don’t overlook Ghyll Manor’s own beautiful estate (7): with its pretty lake, elegant summerhouse and acres of landscaped blooms, it’s a lovely spot for a walk. You won’t have to venture far to find a fabulous dinner, either: the hotel’s AA rosette-awarded restaurant serves seasonal cordon-bleu specialities in a magnificent 17th-century setting.

Wooden Mushrooms


DAY 2 - Hever Castle, museums and vineyards

Hever Castle

Hever Castle

Hever Castle (8) reveals the secrets of one of Britain’s most fascinating historical periods. This imposing estate was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, and its opulent interiors are rich in royal portraits, Tudor tapestries, and intricate hand-carved panelling. You can even step inside Henry VIII’s bedroom, preserved as it would have looked when he was courting his second wife. Or, for more modern marvels, visit both the Wings Museum (9) and the Gatwick Aviation Museum (10). The former focuses on aircraft and artefacts from the Second World War, with a Douglas C-47 Dakota fuselage as its centrepiece – while the latter explores aviation’s post-war advancements by the likes of Avro, Hawker and De Havilland. Sunny day? West Sussex is one of Britain’s premier winegrowing regions, so it would be churlish not to sample a glass or two at Kingscote Estate (11), The Bolney Wine Estate (12) or Nutbourne Vineyards (13). Settle in for a decadent lunch, vineyard tour, and wine tastings galore.

DAY 3 - Find Pooh Sticks bridge

With its ancient woodland and babbling streams, Ashdown Forest (14) is a delightful place for a walk – but you’d better keep an eye out for bears. Pooh bears, that is – because A.A. Milne’s tales of Winnie and friends were inspired by this very spot. Pick up a trail map at the visitor centre to find the original Pooh Sticks bridge, a memorial to the books’ illustrator E.H. Shepard, and plenty of nooks where woozles and heffalumps might hide... Afterwards, visit Pooh Corner (15) for a smackerel of something: a slice of home-made cake, or a hunny sandwich perhaps. For more family fun, head to the nearby Llama Park (16) to go for a walk with new furry friends – or to Washbrooks Farm (17) for tractor rides, shire horses, and two acres of outdoor play areas. Back at Ghyll Manor, an indulgent afternoon tea awaits – served in the conservatory or on the garden-view terrace. You can nibble on cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon bagels, scones with jam and clotted cream – and sip speciality tea or a flute of Champagne. A 15-minute drive from the hotel, Horsham has dinner options aplenty: such as stonebaked pizza at Filippo’s (18), Thai curries at Lemongrass (19), and Michelin-starred dining at Restaurant Tristan (20).

Forest road

Ashdown Forest

If you stay longer...

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

With a few more days at Ghyll Manor, you can delve into the sights of south England: a day of shopping and sunbathing at Brighton (21), perhaps, or Roman ruins and art galleries in Chichester (22). Both are less than an hour’s drive from the hotel. Arundel Castle (23) is unmissable in every sense of the word: its turrets loom over the surrounding countryside, and inside you’ll find a thousand years of royal history. It’s an engaging, entertaining day out: you can try on suits of armour, watch Medieval jousting, and – in summer – catch open-air Shakespeare plays in the Earl’s Garden. Nearby, Devil’s Dyke (24) is a great introduction to the South Downs National Park, with its Iron Age relics and myriad walking trails. The two-hour Chasm Explorer hike takes you deep into the dry valley (the largest of its kind in the UK) while red kites soar overhead. Kids in tow? They’ll probably prefer Go Ape’s (25) treetop trails, wobbly bridges and Tarzan swings. Meanwhile, West Sussex is also home to some great golf clubs, such as Royal Ashdown (26) and Mannings Heath (27). The latter combines a championship 18-hole course with a nine-hole beginners’ course, alongside fine dining and wine tastings.


Sussex map


2. HAREWOODS (12 MILES), 01342 843225

3. BORDE HILL (14 MILES), 01444 450326

4. NYMANS (8 MILES), 01444 405250

5. SHEFFIELD PARK (23 MILES), 01825790231

6. WAKEHURST (14 MILES), 01444 894066


8. HEVER CASTLE (21 MILES), 01732 865224



11. KINGSCOTE ESTATE (15 MILES), 01342 327535

12. THE BOLNEY WINE ESTATE (14 MILES), 01444 881575

13. NUTBOURNE VINEYARDS (20 MILES), 01798 815196

14. ASHDOWN FOREST (18 MILES), 01342 823583

15. POOH CORNER (22 MILES), 01892 771155

16. LLAMA PARK (18 MILES), 01825 712040

17. WASHBROOKS FARM (18 MILES), 01273 832201

18. FILIPPO’S (6 MILES), 01403 271125

19. LEMONGRASS (6 MILES), 01403 269346

20. RESTAURANT TRISTAN (6 MILES), 01403 255688



23. ARUNDEL CASTLE (28 MILES), 01903 882173

24. DEVIL’S DYKE (23 MILES), 01273 857712

25. GO APE CRAWLEY (8 MILES), 01603 895500



All distances are approximate

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