Wakehurst Place, Haywards Heath

March 7, 2017

We were thrilled to recently discover that we could use our family National Trust cards at Wakehurst Place, part of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew’s country estate. We’ve always assumed that a day out at Wakehurst would be too expensive for us as a family of 6….so to discover that we could use our trusty National Trust membership card was music to our ears! The only charge we had to pay on the day was the £10 fee for the car park (charges vary from £2-£10 depending on how long you stay).  

A day of adventures…

Wakehurst Place is a vast estate that has been cared for and developed by the Royal Botantic Gardens for the last 50 years. We found natural play areas, wildlife, the Millenium Seed Bank, a mansion, walled gardens and a wonderful tree trail. Needless to say…we didn’t fit it all into one visit..but I’d love to share the highlights of our day so you can make sure you don’t miss the best bits.

A natural playground

 Wakehurst is a large site and some of the best spots to explore are tucked away. Before visiting make sure you have wellies at the ready..and pocket bribes to keep the kids going when their legs get tired. We found that we walked non-stop on our visit..which totalled 2.5 hours of walking (plus a 30 min sit down for lunch!) 

Wooden stepping stones

The highlight of our day was definitely the tree trail. This is tucked away in some woodland down to the right, past the Millenium Seed Bank. It is sign posted but it is still quite well hidden so make sure you keep your eyes well peeled. We enter the trail through a tunnelled canopy, guided by wooden stepping stones the children begin to imagine meeting the Gruffalo and his friends. At the top of the tunnel we find ourselves in a space surrounded by gorgeous, giant gum trees…and the rest of the magical tree trail. On this visit in early March the trail was very muddy, however I imagine that mid Summer the ground would be a bit more welcoming. The children dart off in all directions. There certainly is something for everyone to get stuck into here. Logan liked stomping about the large wooden platforms circling some of the larger trees. Daisy loved the rope trails and leaping across the wooden stepping stones. Our older boys liked challenging each other to climb across the tricky wooden climbing wall.

Tree trail fun

After a good 30 minutes everyone is exhausted and ready for lunch. We head to the cafe in the middle of the gardens, next to the mansion. The cafe serves a range of hot and cold food and great little picnic boxes for the children. It’s just about warm enough to eat outside where there’s a pretty courtyard leading to the mansion.

Making an entrance at the Mansion

After lunch we continue to explore the gardens. The children play hide and seek, tag and peepo in the trees and along the well maintained walkways. There are also some excellent trees for climbing! Next we find ourselves pottering about the walled gardens behind the mansion. It’s a little early in the year to see this part of the garden at it’s finest but the gardens are tranquil and pretty and offer another great spot for the kids to explore. 

The Walled Garden
Forest Fairies

We finish the afternoon admiring the snowdrops making a welcome appearance near the main entrance to the site. Spring is well and truly on it’s way! We really enjoyed visiting Wakehurst and have vowed to visit again when the gardens are in full bloom. It’s a great spot for families….our children range from 18 months through to 12 years and we found that there was something for every age group. 

The snowdrops have arrived

5 Tips for a Family visit to Wakehurst Place

1) Pack your wellies. You may even want to pack a change of clothes for little ones. The tree trail is very muddy in parts and there’s a good chance someone will end up on their bottom on the muddy slopes!

2) Pick up a map. Wakehurst Place is a very large site. If there are specific areas you would like to visit it’s certainly worth not only picking up a map…but also chatting to a member of staff to help suggest family highlights such as the Seed Bank and mud kitchen area ( we didn’t find this!) 

3) Take your National Trust membership card…but remember you will still need to pay for parking. 

4) Think about becoming an Annual Member. If you don’t have a NT membership you might want to consider becoming a member of Wakehurst Place. The great news for families is that there is no charge for children up to age 16, for adults the entry is £12.50. For just £25 (via direct debit) you can become a member covering entry all year, free parking and a visit to Kew! 

5) Take a camera. You’d be mad not to! 

Wakehurst place, sussex, gardens, kew, days out


  • Sonia

    March 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    It looks like a wonderful place to visit, so great that you could use your NT passes – I really need to renew our membership as we love visit all the amazing properties around the UK. Thanks so much for adding you post to #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky x

    1. admin

      March 10, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      We love our NT passes! I think it’s probably worth doing a year on, year off though..to have a break!

  • Juliet Evans

    March 8, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Perfect. All the information I need for a day out over the Easter hols. We are national trust members, have never been to Wakehurst before, reading your review I can’t understand why we haven’t discovered it yet!

  • Kel

    March 10, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    This looks like a really lovely day out!
    I keep thinking about National Truxt membership – I think I might have to sign up! x

    1. admin

      March 10, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      You should!! Best value in terms of days out! Promise…

  • Fiona Cambouropoulos

    March 11, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    National Trust membership makes so much sense with the age of your children. We left it just a little too late, our youngest were 10 when we had ours and the older ones up to 16. It only worked when we just took the 10 year old’s as the older kids were too disinterested. When they were all younger National Trust just wasn’t what it is today and had little for kids. Wakehurst looks lovely and a bargain for just the parking. I’m glad I’ve seen the full story behind your Instagram photo sitting on the branch now. I love how kids can get wrapped up in their own games using nature. Looks like a lovely day with coats coming off and managing to eat outdoors too.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  • The Princess and The Pickle

    March 12, 2017 at 9:47 am

    This looks like a fantastic place to explore and so many natural play opportunities for the kids, sounds like you had a great day!

  • Sonia Cave

    March 12, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    This looks like a beautiful place and somewhere we’d really enjoy. I found our national trust member ship invaluable! #countrykidsfun

  • Sara

    March 12, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I’ve heard of this place before but like you, didn’t realise you could use your National Trust membership. Another one to add to the ever-expanding list of places to visit. Thank you for sharing #countrykids

  • MrsS

    March 13, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Wow this looks beautiful!! I really need to invest in a NT membership – there are so many wonderful places to visit! Thanks for sharing- really lovely photos xx

  • Maz Hopwood

    March 14, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    We love Wakehurst place too 🙂 We bought one friends of Wakehurst pass for the free parking (which also gave us one free adult ticket to Kew London) so between that and NT it’s free visits all year!

  • Maz Hopwood

    March 14, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    forgot #countrykidsfun 🙂

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