The Weald is a stunning landscape that's spread across parts of West and Mid Kent and is full of exciting things to do. If you're planning on visiting the Mid West section of The Weald you've got loads of attractions and activities to choose from, and no matter where your interests lie you should always be able to find something to suit you. History enthusiasts can spend the day at Tonbridge Castle, where you can take a tour to learn more about the castle's past, or you could visit Horsham Museum to explore the history of this market town in the heart of The Weald.
Those interested in exploring The Weald will love the walks that are on offer. High Weald is an area in Mid Kent and Sussex that is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or an AONB, and is packed full of scenic walks and pathways for you to follow. If you're in need of a spot of retail therapy while you're in The Weald there are loads of shopping centres that you can check out, all with a varied selection of shops.
There are a good number of country houses in The Weald, including Standen, a magnificent example of a Victorian country home in East Grinstead. This huge house has incredible views out over the countryside and you can tour about the house for yourself to learn how a Victorian family would have lived there. You can also see some amazing pieces of work by famous artists, including William De Morgan and W. A. S. Benson. Standen is run by the National Trust and admission prices are very reasonable, so you don't need to break the bank to visit. The gardens at Standen are well worth a look as well and you'll find idyllic woodland walks in the surrounding areas.
If you're staying in Horsham you should definitely check out the Horsham Museum, which is a one of the great local museums in The Weald. There are exhibitions to suit all tastes and everyone will be able to find something that interests them. This museum, based on The Causeway, has over 90,000 artefacts in their collection, all relating back to Horsham's fascinating history. Their main exhibits contain information on Horsham's past and current industries and fashion through the ages, as well as art exhibitions from various local and national artists.
Other noted gardens in The Weald include the Borde Hill Garden in Haywards Heath. This famous garden features Grade II listed woodland that stretches for over 200 acres. You'll find a wide variety of plants, trees and shrubs at the garden, all of which change throughout the seasons and attract all kinds of wildlife. There are a few different areas that you can visit in the garden, such as the Azalea Ring, the Italian Garden and the Rose Garden. The garden is full of history too, and you can learn about the garden's origins when you visit.
When it comes to walking in and around The Weald you're practically spoilt for choice - this area of countryside is one of the most beautiful in the country, with rolling hills filled with woodland and heathland. Walking is one of the favourite outdoor activities in The Weald because it's free, and the fantastic network of public footpaths means that everyone can enjoy a walk in the countryside.
If you want to catch sight of some of The Weald's local wildlife while you're out walking you can head to The Bedelands Farm Local Nature Reserve in Burgess Hill. The Nature Reserve is home to loads of different birds, small mammals and insects, all attracted by the local plants and trees that exist there. Bedelands is known for its population of wild flowers, which are actively encouraged, and the area is kept as natural as possible with only minimal maintenance needed. You can go walking all around the reserve and experience the countryside for yourself.
Another area popular with walkers is The High Weald AONB. This landscape has a history stretching back to medieval times and there are loads of walking and cycling routes that you can take to learn more about it. One such walk starts in Southborough, near Tunbridge Wells, and takes in some of the best countryside in the surrounding area. This 4 mile circular walk takes around an hour and a half to complete and takes in some amazing views over the hills.
If you're visiting with children there are suitable walks available. For instance, you could take one of the Breneden Trails that are situated around Breneden village. Each of the pathways are way marked, so they're really easy to follow, and you walk for as long as you want to before turning back.
There are loads of shops in The Wealdso no matter what you're looking for you'll be able to find it. You can visit any of the shopping centres in the towns and villages to get a varied selection of shops, or you could go shopping in the town or village centre and make use of one of the independent shops in the area.
Those visiting Tunbridge Wells can pop into the Royal Victoria Place on Newton Road. This is one of the biggest shopping centres in The Weald with over 100 shops for you to choose from, including high end clothes shops, food shops, perfume shops and more. You can easily spend a day at the Royal Victoria Place and you can even stop for lunch at the Food Court as well!
Another shopping centre that you can visit is Swan Walk in Horsham. Located on West Street, this is one of the many shopping centres with parking available in The Weald. They've got over 50 shops for you to browse through and you'll find quite a few popular high street clothes shops as well as book shops and jewellers all under one roof.
If you're near Haywards Heath while you're visiting The Weald you can stop off at The Orchards Shopping Centre on St. Wilfrid's Way. There are shops for all kinds of things at The Orchards, including all of your favourite clothes shops for both men and women, phone shops and health & beauty shops.
oast house, st idolphs image contributed by Oast House Archive. Unconverted Oast at Hatchlands Farm image contributed by Oast House Archive. Community school image contributed by Nikki Mahadevan. All images are copyrighted but licensed for further reuse under the Creative Commons License.