Everyone should be able to experience and immerse themselves in the glorious English countryside and landscape. Here is a variety of beautiful accessible spaces – parks, common land or public footpaths. The importance of which cant be overstated.
Shockingly, the public has actually very little access to the countryside in the UK. We have the Right to Roam on 8% of England, while the other 92% remains off limits. The campaign for Right to Roam is a nation wide movement working to enable more public access.
Devil’s Dyke is a spectacular deep v-shaped valley. At nearly a mile long, this valley is the longest, deepest and widest dry valley in the UK. It has outstanding 360 views of Brighton and the undulating hills of the South and North Downs. If you venture deeper into the hillside you will find the whole ground covered in a bed of flowers, patches of woodland and lots of interesting and colourful insects.
It is easily accessible by bus from Brighton, or by car as there is a car park right next to Devil’s Dyke Pub at the top of the Downs. The pub caters for all your food and drinks needs before you head off on your outdoor adventures.
Nestled into the hills of the South Downs, this park was designed in the 18th century and hosts an array of beautiful specimen trees, woodland and open fields to enjoy in this grade II listed landscape. There is a handsome manor house at the bottom of the park, which sells a collection of delicious food and drinks that you can sit back and enjoy after a long walk or before one has even begun! A quick bus ride from central Brighton, Stanmer Park is easy to get to for any city folk.
The park also calls home to The Earthship, a fully sustainable alternative building that is used as a sustainable community centre. The space is used for all things horticultural and agricultural, a hub of learning and caring for organic growing techniques and more.
The Low Carbon Trust provides regular public tours of The Earthship to educate people and to inspire them about sustainable living. There are also other events held on the grounds of Stanmer at One Garden including fairs and workshops.
Popular since it opened in the 1930s on Littlehampton seafront, this grand park still boasts its original art deco shelters. It’s known for its colourful flower beds with a mixture of permanent and annual planting. A tranquil lake is set in the middle of the park which hosts a range of activities and facilities for all ages. Boating or water activities can be booked at the lake or grab a coffee at the cafe. There are so many activities at this park like the tree walk, children’s play park and a conversation area known as Ruby Gardens. If that doesn’t interest you, why not check out the park via their miniature railway?
This disused land used to be a railway marshalling yard, but has now been taken over and reclaimed by the all powerful mother nature. The trail is a collection of footpaths that follow right along the river Ouse. Starting in town you can follow the river through woodland, fields and marshland all whilst taking in the stunning chalky cliffs in the background.
The nature reserve is owned and managed by Lewes District Council, in close partnership with the Railway Land Wildlife Trust. This wild spot in the centre of Lewes highstreet is only a train ride away from Brighton. Disabled access is available and with a public car park around the corner, it is easy and cheap to get to.
Lewes Priory is a partly demolished Mediaeval cluniac priory, with its historic remains and perfect green fields, it creates an air of calm as you walk through this old priory in harmony with nature. As you move through the old ruins, it allows you to imagine how the buildings once looked and how the monks lived. There is also a herb and kitchen garden that is dedicated to teaching what herbs and vegetables were grown during mediaeval times. All of this is set in a sweeping view of the South Downs and provides a historical and nature filled afternoon.
Tilgate Park has so much to offer with stunning lakes, gardens and miles of woodland. In the woodland they offer Go Ape courses through the treetops as well as Tilgate Park Tree Trail, which is a fun activity for all the family. The trail picks out thirty of the best trees of that particular species ranging from all over the world and brings them all together in one easy trail.
For animal lovers, the nature centre at the park hosts over 100 different species of animals to visit and check out. The lakeside cafe offers refreshments if you want a break from walking, or maybe check out the many different themed gardens offering insight and inspiration for garden design and planting. The parking charges are minimal and well worth the travel.
Buchan park is set in 170 acres of gardens, fields, lawns and trails into the woodland. There are also beautiful sculptures throughout the park to keep an eye out for. They offer seasonal events for children like apple pressing, pumpkin carving or the latest event for adults is Fungi Foray on Sun 1 October. The event looks into the kingdom of fungi and how it is essential for life on earth, you can book a ticket online now.
Don’t Urbanise the Downs is a collection of stunning public footpaths through the fields of East Chiltington. The footpaths follow over streams, under trees and through hedgerow and grassy fields. The trail was created to highlight the negative impacts on the countryside when building a brand new town in these very fields, which is what the land owners Eton College plan to do.
It is important to protect this land and you can support the trail by sharing your experience on social media with the hashtag DUTD. It is open all year round, but is particularly delightful to go to in summer when three of the fields are completely over-flowing with sunflowers.
Ditchling Common is a quiet and serene place just past Ditchling Village. It hosts a selection of classic countryside views in its 76 hectares of woodlands, heathland, bridleways and a large lake. Perfect for a lazy afternoon feeding the ducks or for fishing finatics, this common land is only on the other side of the Downs and with a free car park you can be there for as long as you want.