Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   South of London in March, ancient trees and Daffodils? (

wrenwood Oct 28th, 2017 06:00 AM

South of London in March, ancient trees and Daffodils?
We decided not to go to Sicily in March (another thread) but to head back to England.

I didn't feel I had the time to plan a Sicily trip, as I'm not overly familiar with it, and we are planning to go to New Zealand next October or November, and I need to get started on planning that trip which will take a lot of time this winter.

We've been to Cornwall 2-3 times, so we thought we would go back to the areas south of London. We have been there once before in March, and although not as "far along" into spring as Cornwalll, we thoroughly enjoyed it.

We will stay near Hever for 4-5 nights, Places on the radar are Hever, Chartwell, Knole, Scotney, Ightham Mote and ???

Then stay 1 night between Canterbury and Dover. We would probably stop at Canterbury on our way to
our accomodation for the night, the next morning leave for Dover, and after Dover, leave for Rye

Thinking of 4-5 nights outside Rye in a rental with a washer and dryer. We want to spend time in Rye, visit Battle, Bodiam Castle, Great Dixter, and maybe Batemans.

After this we would have 3-5 nights before heading home, haven't figured out where.

We love big old trees, and any early spring Gardens, historic houses, estates, Abbeys, quaint old villages, scenic drives. I love to photograph, and we are very "slow" tourists. What some people seem to do in 1 day sometimes takes us 2 days!

So grateful for your thoughts and suggestions!

hetismij2 Oct 28th, 2017 06:09 AM

Big old trees, old villages,scenic drives -the New Forest?
Or maybe around the Devil's Punchbowl

julies Oct 28th, 2017 07:14 AM

I will be following this thread as I have been wondering what a visit to this area in March would be like. Really daffodils and other early flowers this early in the spring? When does all of this spring budding and blossoming normally start?

Morgana Oct 28th, 2017 07:46 AM

Sissinghurst is well worth a visit - one of the most famous gardens in England.

janisj Oct 28th, 2017 07:59 AM

Absolutely add Sissinghurst to your list.

And somewhere during the trip fit in at least half a day at RHS Wisley.

Where to spend your 'extra' 3-5 nights partly depends on where you have been previously and do you have to end up at LHR?

The New Forest (with maybe a day trip to the IoW including a visit to Osborne House) would be great.

>>When does all of this spring budding and blossoming normally start?<<

Entirely depends on the sort of Winter/early Spring they are having. If it has been mild I have even seen bluebells in March -- but sometimes not til the end of May. Dafs are usually well in bloom in March (but not always)

loncall Oct 28th, 2017 08:20 AM

The National Trust has a useful review of all the spring gardens and woodlands that they manage in SE England

Double check opening dates though as not all are open in early March.

wrenwood Oct 28th, 2017 12:01 PM

loncall, great National Trust page, thanks!

janisj and hetismij2, I googled images of The New Forest, wow looks lovely! Unfortunately I think that it's kind of the wrong direction for our last few days, as yes, we will fly back out of Heathrow, so I was looking more towards Surrey area. I'm just having some trouble with that area because it's so close to Hever.

We have been to Wisley and Sissinghurst, but that doesn't mean we won't go again, especially Wisley. We've been to Hever before also, but staying there will be special!

Julies the last time we were there in March we did see lots of the early Daffodils, Hellebores, minor bulbs like Scillas and Crocus naturalized in great sweeps in lawns, even Primula naturalized in a lawn, it was enchanting. There,s actually quite a bit of color with Hellebores, Pulmonaria and other early perennials in addition to early bulbs. We had mixed weather last time but there's always a pub or grand house to duck into somewhere!

Back to the Surrey area, west of Surrey is OK too. Saw there is an AONB in Surrey, wondering if there was a town there that might be a good base for exploring that area?

janisj Oct 28th, 2017 04:44 PM

>>We've been to Hever before also, but staying there will be special!<<

Oh -- you are staying AT Hever -- wonderful. That is sort of on my bucket list (after staying at Sissinghurst which I hope to do next year)

You could stay somewhere near Petworth (in West Sussex) as a base from the coast/New Forest to most of Surrey And visit Petworth House among others.

It is only about 45 miles from LHR, 65 miles from the New Forest (I LOVE both Beaulieu and Bucklers Hard), and less than 35 miles from Wisley.

historytraveler Oct 28th, 2017 07:10 PM

The Montague Arms in Beaulieu is excellent and the walk from there to Bucklers Hard through the woods is lovely. Well, at least, it used to be. Hopefully they haven't erected condos along the route.;)

Planning to stay at Hever Castle this summer with DS, DnL and 12 year old granddaughter who is becoming quite a medievalist. Anyone familiar with Chiddingstone or Tonbridge Castle ? Thinking Chiddingstone might be a good lunch stop and possibly seeing Tonbridge on our way to Bodiam Castle. I never heard of Tonbridge Castle prior to working on our itinerary for the trip.

annhig Oct 29th, 2017 02:08 AM

People keep pushing you towards the New Forest, perhaps because they are not that familiar with the beauties of the area SE of London.

Places to add to your list are Wakehurst Place [the country branch of Kew, wonderful trees] Sheffield Park [again, wonderful for trees] and somewhat nearer to Hever,, Ide Hill, which is a lovely little village on the Weald of Kent with fabulous views over the escarpment.

Nymans is also a garden worthy of addition to the list.

Chiddingstone is a lovely village [often used by film companies because of the lack of telegraph poles etc.,] with Oast Houses, tea shops and a super pub. Tonbridge OTOH is a pretty ordinary town with nothing special to see, so far as I remember; i never got to see the castle in 20 years or so of living in that area, which may of course have been my loss.

As for where you stay for your last few days, somewhere south of Tunbridge Wells or even TWs itself might be a good choice.

PatrickLondon Oct 29th, 2017 02:20 AM

To follow up on annhig's post above, Ide Hill has Emmett's Garden, which are well known for bluebells when that season arrives, but I have no idea what there is to see there in March, and I second the suggestion of Chiddingstone too - you could combine that with a visit to Penshurst. People often forget that places in Kent and Surrey close to the commuter rail lines into London can be very rural and remote-feeling.

Emmett's Garden:

Chiddingstone and Penshurst:

annhig Oct 29th, 2017 02:38 AM

Emmetts, of course, Patrick. I knew there was one I'd missed.

Odin Oct 29th, 2017 02:39 AM

Painshill Park is close to RHS Wisley and well worth a visit at any time of the year.

chartley Oct 29th, 2017 02:43 AM

Another two suggestions from me. The first is Scotney Castle, which is a National Trust property.

It's a beautiful situation, with lovely grounds, and will almost certainly have daffodils and otrher spring bulbs. I have not been there in spring, so cannot be certain. The castle is more a romantuc folly than a real castle, since it is in the gardens of a mansion.

The other place, very close by, is the Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest

It is a great place for walking and other forms of recreation, in an attractive setting.

Both places asre south of Lamberhurst, on the London to Hastings road.

northie Oct 29th, 2017 03:18 AM

What a beautiful trip - loved Hever and Sissinghurst . Saw the bluebells out in Kew Gardens one year in March .
Was wondering where Wakehurst was ? I was just reading the Kew Gardens magazine and thought that sounds lovely .

hetismij2 Oct 29th, 2017 04:10 AM

I did also suggest around the Devil's Punchbowl,, which is closer to your end destnnation. Amazing to see now - you would never know it used to be blighted by the A3. Lots of interest around there, such as Frensham Ponds.

Or what about Winkworth Arboretum and surrounds, near Godalming?

The Surrey/Sussex border has some interesting villages, and scenery, though Gatwick noise is a bit of a blight on the area.

annhig Oct 29th, 2017 06:26 AM

it turns out that Wakehurst is owned by the NT but managed by Kew - the best of both worlds.

Northie, it's near Haywards Heath, in West Sussex.

julies Oct 29th, 2017 06:47 AM

This isn't my thread, but it is a great help. We have never visited England or the area being discussed but are the type of people who most often enjoy visiting the lesser known places that involve slow travel rather than the type of people who just want to do the typical, same old, same old itinerary that 95% of the people do. In fact, we are remarkably similar to the profile of the OP's interests.

Thanks to all of you for your comments, and now I have a general idea what we could expect as far as greenery if we made a March visit.

Note to wrenwood: We made a three week trip to Sicily two years ago, and I planned it very last minute. As you will see from my attached trip report, it is easily done.

janisj Oct 29th, 2017 08:47 AM

Huge seconds to Penshurst Place, Scotney Castle and Chiddingstone . . . See - you don't really need to search for another area to stay. Just pick another B&B in western Kent or East Sussex and then take the M25 to LHR. you will have much more than enough to fill your time.

Also check out Bayham Abbey

wrenwood Nov 6th, 2017 03:04 AM

Thanks all, gave a quick look, will reply next weekend. we are in Patagonia (!!!!!!!) wi-fi not great.

But this trip is awesome!


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:58 PM.