With the cold snap gripping tight to the last vestige of winter, I was seeking solace in some old digital photos – desperate to be reminded of the sparkling sun and its warmth. I was a little surprised to come across several from our trip to National Trust’s Nymans last autumn. Not only had I forgotten about our day out, but I had clearly forgotten to write about it – I must have been pretty preoccupied at the time to bypass singing the praises of the estate’s majestic beauty.
In the late 1800s Ludwig Messel bought the Nymans Estate in West Sussex to make a dream family house. Inspired by the wooded surroundings, Messel created a garden with plants collected from around the world. What is particularly striking about the surrounding countryside is the plentiful mix of various landscapes. Not only do you get rolling green fields and hills, there are shady woodland nooks – with an educational trail for children amongst the various kid-friendly activities on offer, and the magnificent Lime Avenue, which is flanked by giant lime trees. But the main attraction at Nymans has to be its gardens. There’s a rock garden, sunk garden, heather garden, top garden, rose garden and walled garden…
On our arrival we were given a special leaflet catering for young ones – with exciting trails to follow throughout the estate. And we were genuinely overwhelmed by how much there was to explore. Monkey flew down the main pathway and immediately took us into the Bamboo jungle, which had wooden winding walkways.
He then found a huge giant redwood, which we were all in awe of – craning our necks just to see the leaves, and then played hide ‘n’ seek in the topiary. We also made ‘tea’ in the Round House, a huge den that attracted several youngsters, not before running all the way to the Log Stepping Stones.Once we managed to tear him away from his assault course, we meandered towards the gardens, drinking in all the pleasant floral smells that were wafting our way. My favourite was the walled garden (there’s a surprise) by the ruins of the old house, which towered nearby. Not only had beautifully tended garden beds, but several ornate water features. As you can see, Monkey was pretty enthralled…After strolling around the gothic mansion and the ruins – the house was partially destroyed by fire in 1947 – we decided not to go inside, preferring to wander the grounds. Several families had made their base near the Loggia – a summer house – but we headed towards the rock gardens, where Monkey happily ran up and down the raised banks, while I plonked myself on a bench to enjoy the view. We then took a turn around the lily pond before heading back over the fields. By this point Monkey wanted to be carried and we knew he was getting tired. Although it was autumn and the leaves were beginning to change colour, we were lucky to experience warm weather – so Monkey soon perked up when we offered to get him an ice-cream from the well-stocked NT café. Meanwhile, I browsed the garden centre, trying hard not to purchase anything, but hubby wasn’t so lucky, after Monkey spied a little toy truck in the shop. For him, the perfect end to a glorious day. For us, another National Trust gem ticked off the list which, I am sure, will become a firm favourite over the years.Nymans, Handcross, Haywards Heath, Sussex RH17 6EB; Open 10.00am-17.00pm daily; Adult £11.00; Child £6.00; Family (1 adult &up to 3 children) £17.00