A short blog about our trip to West Dean Gardens and a few of my pics to show off, just an ordinary day out, but it is what family life is all about.
I moved down to Petworth many years ago, before becoming quite nomadic and moving around the country too many times. I had heard about West Dean Gardens and kept meaning to go along, but never got around to it. As we were nearby doing one of our many child activities, we decided we would go along to see what it was like. We are always looking for places to take Grandparents, so it was a good opportunity to test it out. On paper, it doesn’t hold much appeal for children as there is no play area, but it is actually a perfect space to take children to just enjoy being outdoors. The gardens are attached to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, which I guess is responsible for the upkeep of the gardens, as they are immaculately kept. The gardens are perfect for our 2 sets of garden mad grandparents.
I was worried that the children might not enter into the spirit of our great outdoors expedition, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how much of a family day out it was. I would say it is a half day, rather than a full day, but definitely worth a visit.
It is near to Chichester, a bit off the beaten track, but the sat nav got us there without a problem. Parking was free and there was plenty of it. The whole garden is laid to paths, so wheelchair and buggy friendly. I doubt that they would be keen on scooters, but I didn’t actually see a sign saying no scooters.
We arrived just after it had opened, following our early morning dance class; it was not sunny, but it was dry, which I would say is a must for the visit, as it is all outdoors. The entrance takes you straight to a huge window seat which is set up for the café, it lures you straight into the café, which is never a bad thing. The café was lovely, relatively small, but with a lot of outdoor seating for the warmer days. We only had take out coffees, which were good, but there was a wide range of snacks and ice creams on offer, both to take out, or eat in. There is no reason why you couldn’t take a picnic and have it in the woodland area, or by the river, there are plenty of benches in the garden, but no picnic tables, so take a blanket.
Entrance was free for the children and £8 per adult. Not cheap, but season tickets are available if you wish to go more than once, then that spreads the cost a little. It is early season at the moment, but the garden still looked amazing, just coming into the spring bloom. The garden team work really hard on it and it shows.
First stop was the bridge for pooh sticks, good simple fun that they so far, have not got bored of. Then there was manic running up and down the side of the river, before we set off in the direction the map showed up. There are lots of old-fashioned glasshouses, but don’t go expecting the Wisley Glasshouse, they are built for purpose glasshouses, rather than showcases. Some were open for the children to run through and check out the plants, others just had a little viewing hole, which the children seemed to find quite intriguing.
There was a dovecote, which had a visitor’s book in it, so they spent quite a while checking out where visitors came from and writing in their own entries.
From the glasshouses, we went into the garden which was laid out with bridges and water features to entertain them. There were plenty of benches to take a rest, or possibly leave a grandparent to relax, while the rest of us go on the country walk. The country walk was listed as 2 ½ miles, however, we went a bit off track and it was possibly a little longer. We walked through the fields of sheep and lambs, which was really sweet. The children spent most of the time picking their favourite lambs, this helped them barely notice the walking. The views were lovely and after a fairly gentle uphill walk, we were on the downhill strait back to the gardens. There was no moaning from the children, they seemed to genuinely have fun running around. It was a relaxing and simple family outing, we will definitely be taking the grandparents there when they visit on a sunny day.
We decided to move onto Chichester afterwards as it is so close to West Dean, where we found a great play area, as well as loads of shops and cafes. We combined the two to give us a full day out. Having managed to swerve the gift shop in West Dean, we did end up having to buy the most weird bean filled floppy banana for DD2 in The Works. She loves waving her floppy banana around, while DD1 got a unicorn squishee. One day we will get away with just saying no and maybe Mummy and Daddy can buy themselves a treat instead!