Tag Archives: Bluebell Railway

Sheffield Park and Tea Room

2 Feb

The walk

A very cold bright day and my daughter and I were glad of the heated seats in the drive in to Plumpton College this morning.

She was in a good mood and I had no trouble getting her out of the car and off for an exciting morning of looking at graffiti in Brighton. I have decided to revisit Sheffield Park today, after discovering it on a family day out over Christmas. That time we had paid to look around the National Trust gardens and enjoyed lunch in the tea room. I felt it had been quite an expensive day out, even with one of us getting in free as my daughter’s carer. I suppose it depends how long you intend to spend looking round or whether you have a young person with you that essentially you are just going to chase around the gardens for an hour. I did notice, on this previous visit, that as well as a lovely tea room, there was parkland you could explore for free. This is what I decided to do today.

Sheffield Park

I was surprised by the number of cars in the car park at 9.30 on a cold, February Monday morning, but it is a popular place and over the Christmas holidays there was quite a queue for the tearoom. I already had my map, flask of coffee, and warm walking gear (though I was down to one pair of gloves as Dear Daughter (who had decided upon leaving the house that she didn’t need gloves), snaffled a pair of mine on arrival at college.

I opted for the ‘long walk’ – about 1.5 miles – so this is ideal for families or slower/less able walkers – there is also a ‘short walk’ of about a mile, and the East Park circular walk which certainly doesn’t look longer than 2 mikes. I was straight into a field of livestock- heifers – urgh – not my favourite – so I skirted around them, following the signs and map as best I could. The Bluebell Railway is a short walk away and it was nice to hear the train whistle and see the plume of steam from the train. You could do a nice combined day out, parking at Sheffield Park, walking over the parkland to the Bluebell Railway and walking back via the natural play trail for a fun day out with kids.

I was relieved to leave the heifer field and enter St George’s which was full of sheep, both the signage and map (from the National Trust visitor centre) are very good and easy to follow. I took a little diversion from the long walk to have a look at Ringwood Toll, natural play trail, lots of fun to be had here, including building dens out of sticks, tightrope walking, and storytelling in the hut.

Ringwood Toll

Ringwood Toll Natural Play Trail

Ringwood Toll

Wigwam fun!

Ringwood Toll

Tightrope walking at Ringwood Toll

Ringwood Toll

Storytelling Hut

The landscape wasn’t so spectacular, it is parkland, after all, and mainly fields of livestock, with small wooded copse, no great views either, but pleasant. There were signs to the Wildlife Haven and river which may have been more interesting, but I will save those for another day. There are plenty of birds, if you are interested in them, robins, magpies and crows and I think I heard a woodpecker.

Sheffield Park

Lower Woman’s Way Pond

I looped back round to the car, after a quick look at Lower Woman’s Way Pond, and I was glad to get back for a warm-up and flask of coffee in the car, as although there were lots of benches on the way round (good, again for less able walkers) I was not tempted to stop and get a frozen bottom!

IMG_6512

After a break I decided to explore the shops I had seen signs for on the way in. I had seen at least four signs, and had thought there were at least two shops (apart from the National Trust visitor centre, selling the usual gift items) but I think there is only one other, called ‘All Wine and Roses’ a nursery and wine shop. I followed the signs up to it, however, it didn’t seem very open. Looked like a quirky place, to buy plants, architectural salvage and wine imported from France.

All Wine and Roses

Nursery at Sheffield Park

Sheffield Park

Not sure what this is about?

All wine and roses

The lunch

Nothing for it now but to hit the tea room, which is currently undergoing refurbishment. We sat in the large Oak Hall, usually reserved for functions, nice and grand, if a little dark.

Tea Room at Sheffield Park

Oak Hall Tea Room

I had leek and potato soup with a hunk of brown bread – if I’m honest, the soup was a little tasteless, but the bread certainly was a hunk, and quite good value for £4.50. As it is now after midday the tearoom is filling up with mums and toddlers and retired folks. I will come again!

Sheffield Park Tea Room