A Day Out | Leonardslee Lakes & Gardens

Once again I eschewed a weekend on the sofa to get out and about in my adopted home county of Sussex, not least as I was once again joined by a friend staying for the weekend.

Leonardslee  sits a few miles south-east of Horsham over the border in West Sussex. I say over the border, whilst the county is divided administratively many locals still refer to it as simply Sussex. It was also just a short run from Southwater, where Patsy was first dropped off for her annual wallet busting service.

Leonardslee only re-opened in 2019 after being closed for 10 years, the new owners carrying out a thorough restoration of the gardens as well as adding a vineyard.

Arriving around lunchtime we elected to eat our packed lunch in the car to save carrying a bag around - this turned out to be opportune as I later discovered on flipping through the website that no outside food or drink was allowed. A little mean perhaps although like many things at the moment I’m not sure how it’s enforced. Picnic baskets could of course be purchased from the café.

In the main we followed the prescribed walk around the gardens, which is indicated as mobility scooter accessible but not suitable for wheelchairs due to some steep slopes. Mobility scooters can be hired and a buggy shuttle service runs most days giving those with limited mobility access to the lower gardens and lakes.

Whilst the sun remained largely shy the autumn colours were certainly impressive and it was a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours. Right, enough of the inane waffle - to the photos:




We finished our walk with a restorative cuppa in the courtyard of the Clocktower Café. A Pot of Tea for two turned out to be two paper cups with hot water and a teabag but it was refreshing at least.

As with many places at the moment, pre-booking is strongly advised - www.leonardsleegardens.co.uk


A Day Out | Kent & East Sussex Railway

Following on from Saturday’s visit to Arundel Castle - see previous blog post - Sunday saw us heading east into neighbouring Kent to indulge our love of heritage railways and we were rewarded for the cross country drive with some cracking weather too.

Like many attractions in these strange times, normal services are curtailed with just return trips from Tenterden to Bodiam on offer, the intervening stations of Rolvenden, Wittersham Road & Northiam being closed to visitors.

We arrived at Tenterden in plenty of time - time enough for a coffee, a visit to the adjacent Old Dairy brewery for some research samples and a packed lunch in the picnic area.


Soon after we heard the train approaching, watching as it trundled up the steep hill and into the station. Whilst steam traction was planned some operational issues meant we were to have diesel haulage for our trip - no complaints from us, many will know I’m a fan of old diesel locos, but the volunteer who told us was expecting some grumbles from the steam aficionados.


The team had certainly got to grips with the new Covid secure guidelines and every other table in the carriage was kept clear - things were very well organise, face coverings were of course required.

The 45 minute run through the Weald to the terminus at Bodiam was a delight, showcasing some of the best countryside Kent and East Sussex has to offer.



Bodiam castle is a walk or short bus ride away and normally combined tickets can be bought, however our wait at Bodiam station was just 20 minutes so the castle would have to wait. Enough time for a restorative coffee and shortbread whilst enjoying the views though.

Back at Tenterden we headed south for the short trip to the delightful town of Rye on the coast. The nice weather had clearly brought people out but it was a little too busy for comfort in current circumstances so we headed down to Rye Harbour for dinner in the William the Conqueror before a trundle back along the coast. Another great day out and hopefully more to come.


Kent & East Sussex Railway

Bodiam Castle