As a non-driver, I’m always looking for countryside places to visit that can be reached by public transport (or bicycle), and at the weekend I was delighted to find out how easy it is to get to the beautiful Highdown Gardens in Goring-by-Sea.
Highdown Gardens were created out of a chalk pit overlooking the South Downs. They were developed by Sir Frederick and Lady Stern who bought the land in 1909 and worked for 50 years to prove that plants could thrive on chalk with very little soil. The gardens include many rare and beautiful plants and trees and are a really magical place full of lush colours and scent – they remind me of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’. They are also perfect for a game of hide and seek!
To get there, catch a train to Goring-by-Sea, and then it’s a 15-20 minute walk from the station culminating in a gentle plod up the steep road to Highdown Tower. The gardens are hidden away at the very top of the hill just beyond the tower, right on the edge of the Downs with a distant view of the sea. The roadside walk from the station is easy though the walk up hill up to Highdown could be a challenge for some, but my six-year-old daughter managed it and wants to go again - as do I.
Entry is free; picnicking encouraged, or reward yourself with lunch and a cream tea with ‘award winning jam’ from the excellent Highdown Tearooms.