It’s that time of year when the British landscape turns a gorgeous shade of red, orange and brown as Autumn (or Fall if your from America) properly kicks in. I have to admit that I do adore a warm summer’s day but the colours of autumn create some beautiful scenery around us. As the temperature drops and the winter coats and scarves come out, there is nothing better than getting outside on a brisk and bright day to kick through the fallen leaves blanketing the ground.
I always dream of going to New England in the Fall. It’s on my bucket list, but is always overtaken by something else every year. I will do it though. I have done some research and have ideas in place.
This means that for every year New England doesn’t happen, I need to try and get to a stunning location in the UK with an awesome array of autumnal colour. Last year, we went to Winkworth Arboretum which you can read about here. That was really nice. So this year, as usual, Google told me about various places in the UK that would be suitable, and once again we headed off to West Sussex to check out the dazzling autumn colours – this time of Sheffield Park and Garden – a National Trust property located on the outskirts of Uckfield.
The one thing that you have to consider when you are looking for some great autumn colour, is that everyone else is doing the same thing, especially on a sunny weekend so be prepared for crowds. We arrived to a find ourselves diverted to the overflow car park in the fields adjacent to the property so were already prepared for it to be busy.
Sheffield Park and Garden is a vast property with gardens surrounding the private Sheffield Park House, including a large area of woodland as well as acres of parkland with numerous walking trails.
In terms of autumn colour, the main garden is the centrepiece for this time of year. Many species of tree and shrub were planted in the early 20th century, by then owner Arthur Soames, for this particular reason.
The garden is centred around five lakes of varying sizes, with pathways meandering through woodland areas, open meadows and glades. As well as the standard property map that you can pick up at entrance, you can also collect a map on where to find the best examples of autumn colour which is really useful – especially if you have limited time and are visiting purely for that reason.
We decided to focus on the main pathways from the entrance heading towards the lakes – the first one we encountered was Ten Foot Pond, of which the east side offered great views of Sheffield Park House nestled between the trees.
From here the we took the pathways around Woodland Walk which followed the north bank of Middle Lake. The views across the lake from here provided excellent opportunities for a great array of colour.
Middle Lake leads to Upper Woman’s Way Pond, where you can cross the lovely but narrow Cascade Bridge and head up into the woodland of Queen’s Walk, which is slightly steeper than most other pathways through the gardens. Queen’s Walk leads up to the Cricket Pitch, a large open meadow which is lovely for dog walkers and families wanting picnics. A little bit lacking in autumn colour for me though, so we headed back down the hill to Cascade Bridge. From this slight higher vantage point, we did manage to capture some sneaky views of Sheffield Park House through the trees.
Back over Cascade Bridge and a left turn takes you along Birch Grove, a slightly more dense section of woodland which runs alongside Lower Woman’s Way Pond.
The best thing about water in beautiful gardens like this are the reflections, of course. It’s clear to see by the location and planting of some of the more colourful trees that they are designed in such a way to create stunning reflections in the lakes.
Birch Grove leads through the woodland to Nyssa Grove and Conifer Walk which leads back the edge of Ten Foot Pond, which I have to admit offered the best scenery in the gardens. The still water and reflections on the lake, the beautiful lily pads stretching out across the lake and the amazing colours of the trees kept leading me back to this location.
The reason I was drawn back to this area, was one tree in particular – the Taxodium distichum which (I believe) is commonly known and a swamp cypress or bald cypress. This tree has the most beautiful and striking burnt orange colour in autumn, I was mesmerised by it and took so many photos of it. I’ll share a few with you here, I’m sure you will agree the colour of the leaves are amazing and worth the visit alone. Wow.
As with most large National Trust properties, there are plenty of facilities available to the visitor. There is a tea room located just outside of the main property, along with a kiosk within the gardens selling drinks and snacks. There is also a gift shop located at the garden entrance.
For more information, take a look at the property website here.
So there we are – that this year’s offering of dazzling autumn colour in the UK from me. Where have you seen some great examples of autumn (or Fall) colours this year?