Sussex is a wonderful county for entertaining kids (both big and little) during weekends, half terms and the school holidays. There are a huge range of activities on offer – from farm visits to steam train rides – as well as historical sites to explore and seasides to splash around on. Most attractions in the county are within easy reach of all the major towns and tourist centres and there are great transport connections and plenty of parking. Here are some of the best family days out in the Sussex countryside.
Blackberry farm (http://www.blackberry-farm.co.uk) is a family run farm in the village of Whitesmith that is surrounded by a fabulous 18 acres of beautiful Sussex Countryside and is the perfect day out for families looking for some fun with nature. The farm has donkey rides, daily activities such as bottle feeding the baby animals, as well as tractor rides, goat racing and egg blowing. There are donkeys, sheep, cows, pygmy goats, rabbits, chipmunks, ducks and a deer, among the many animals who live at the farm, most of whom can be petted and loved by enthusiastic little hands! Entrance costs £7 for adults and £6 for children.
Battle Abbey (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/1066-battle-of-hastings-abbey-and-battlefield/) is a historic site (photographed above) that was central to one of the most important events in Sussex’s past (the Battle of Hastings in 1066) and that provides an excellent opportunity for kids to explore its atmospheric grounds and imagine some fascinating Norman battles and conquests of their own. There are events held at the Abbey all year round, such as a knights tournament and falconry displays, as well as the option for kids to have a go at archery and even learn some Saxon battle tactics. Entrance costs £6.40 for adults and £3.20 for children.
Ashdown Forest (http://www.ashdownforest.com/) The medieval forest made famous as the home of Winnie the pooh is packed with great things do see and do with the kids. A visit to Pooh Bridge is of course an essential one- originally built in 1907 and more recently restored by the Countryside Commission the bridge is the iconic heart of the Forest. Combine your visit with a stay at the child friendly luxury hotel at Ashdown park and spend the weekend exploring some of Ashdown Park’s lesser known attractions.
Bluebell Railway (http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/) is a wonderful way to explore the Sussex countryside in the same way that people have been doing for a hundred years. The railway operates several steam trains, which will delight and amaze kids who haven’t seen a real life Thomas the Tank Engine before, as well as providing a lovely gentle ride across some pretty fantastic scenery. There are special events held regularly on the railways, such as a Sunday carvery, and there is also a museum where visitors can get to know something about the history of the railway and of the trains themselves. Fares start at £7.40 for adults and £3.70 for kids.
Wilderness Wood (http://www.wildernesswood.co.uk/) is 62 acres of managed woodland that makes for a fantastic day out for families in the Sussex countryside. With lots of specially designed nature trails suitable for all ages, as well as special events like ‘Woodland Monster Spotting’ and the ‘Baby Bug Hunt,’ there’s loads to see and do at Wilderness Wood and best of all the whole experience is out in the fresh air. It costs around £3.95 for entry to Wilderness Wood.
Petworth House and Park (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-petworthhouse/) is a great location for some fun in the fresh air with 700 acres of stunning deer parks to explore, as well as a 17th century mansion house that’s full if inspiration for young imaginations. The park is the perfect place for summer picnics and there is lots to see here, from trees that have been standing on the same spot for hundreds of years, to a deer herd that is one of the oldest in England. There is no charge to enter the park, although there is a charge for parking, and for looking around Petworth House and the Pleasure Grounds.
These ideas for family days out in Sussex are a great way to keep the kids entertained without breaking the bank or resorting to sticking them in front of the TV. With everything from historical battles, to baby animals to learn about, children will love getting to know everything that their local area has to offer.
Battle Abbey photo by ahisgett