From secret gardens, sandy beaches and foodie finds to outdoor theatre on historic estates, here’s our friends from Muddy Stilettos pick of cool, cultural hot spots you must visit when staying at THE PIG-in the South Downs.
Denmans Garden, Fontwell
9 mins by car
Talk about a secret garden! This hidden gem is tucked away in the foothills of the South Downs deep in the glorious Sussex countryside. These gorgeous Grade II listed gardens simply ooze romance. The four acres that make up Denmans were once a market garden and home to legendary garden designer, the late John Brookes MBE. The range and diversity of plants is breathtaking, and its trustees are still discovering new secrets from rare roses (there are more than 50 different roses alone in the gardens) to unexpected additions in the glasshouses. Nestled between Chichester and Arundel, you can factor in a trip to Arundel Castle, dinner at The Parson’s Table and a wine tasting at Digby’s. Making it a day to remember.
Wiston Wine Estate, Pulborough
23 mins by car
There’s vineyards and then there’s vineyards and the stunning Wiston Estate certainly stands out amongst the competition. It has been in the hands of the Goring family since 1743 and more recently, in 2006 the family planted a south-facing 16-acre site with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay vines. Best of all, you’ll get to taste all of these during your visit. Two years ago they opened Chalk restaurant, a chic eatery that draws together the best local produce, including ingredients from the Estate and its neighbours, which can be enjoyed alongside the their award-winning wines.
Weald & Downland Living Museum, Chichester
21 mins by car
Discover over 50 rescued rural buildings spanning 950 years that have been relocated and painstakingly rebuilt within beautiful parkland in the South Downs near Chichester. A brilliant attraction for all the family, you’ll discover the stories of the people who lived and worked in rural South East England over 1,000 years. Regular demonstrations include making flour in the 17th century working watermill and cooking in the Tudor kitchen. There are also seasonal activities, themed events and theatre productions. Spend a whole day on site, taking a walk in the woods, bringing your own picnic or getting snacks to a full lunch in the waterside café. History has never been such fun!
West Wittering beach, The Witterings
30 mins by car
Sandy toes and salty kisses are essential fodder at West Wittering – dubbed Sussex’s Caribbean and a place Kate Winslet calls home. It’s often named the county’s best beach mainly because it has actual sand – and miles of it, especially when the tide is out. There’s only one café and car park, run by the National Trust, and access is tricky at peak season with traffic often backing up to Chichester – but it’s worth the effort! Nearby is picturesque East Wittering, a quintessential seaside village packed full of cafés, a chic vintage clothing shop and local produce.
SUP at River Arun, Pulborough
17 mins by car
Sussex and paddle boarding go together like wine and cheese. The route at River Arun snakes around West Sussex and will keep you on, or perhaps, off, your toes. Check the tide and forecast, then hire boards at Pulbrough Paddles and explore along the River Arun. This route is beautiful, there’s a few fallen trees and you’ll need to lie down to pass under them and you’ll also be sharing the space with the local swans. And after all that hard work you can stop by The White Hart in Stopham for a cheeky spritzer.
Cowdray Estate, Midhurst
26 mins by car
Your one-stop for everything fun in West Sussex, this country estate has every activity imaginable from award winning clay-pigeon shooting to fly fishing on the River Rother, walking, cycling, riding, polo, the list goes on and on… A previous Muddy Award winner, the Farm Shop and café are well worth a visit to sample the very best of Sussex’s food. This summer there’s a special outdoor theatre performances of Beatrix Potter’s The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny in the estate’s Walled Garden.
The Halfway Bridge, Lodsworth
23 mins by car
Smack dab in the sensational South Downs National Park is The Halfway Bridge, purveyor of top class meals and boasting a 250-year heritage. The building started out as a 17th century coaching inn, based as it is between the market towns of Midhurst and Petworth. For dining, the interior is simple and cosy, and there’s a leafy garden and shaded terrace for sunnier months. The wine list is extensive and full of local Sussex vintages.
Petworth House and Park, Petworth
24 mins by car
Art lovers rejoice! The National Trust’s extraordinary 17th-century Petworth House, with its films star good looks (spotted in Bridgerton, Maleficent and Elizabeth: The Golden Age), is stuffed full of incredible paintings, sculptures, and wood carvings. Mooch among major works by artists such as Van Dyck, Turner, Reynolds and Gainsborough. Explore the Historic Kitchens in the Servants’ Quarters that offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who worked here. Outside is equally impressive with a 700-acre Deer Park that’s the perfect place to stretch your legs. And you can then explore the chocolate-box pretty village with an abundance of antique shops (Augustus Brandt is Muddy’s pick). Not to be missed is the walk-in cheese room at Muddy favourite, The Hungry Guest Deli!
All content is thanks to Muddy Stilettos.
Looking to take a trip to visit the South Downs? Why not book a stay at THE PIG-in the South Downs here.