Lindfield B&B near Haywards Heath
Surrounded by countryside, this 16th century, with later additions, home is a very comfortable bed and breakfast. The vast inglenook fireplace in the Guests' Sitting Room is the very place to toast your toes (perhaps whilst sharing a bottle of wine?) after a walk in the area. In the warmer months you can sit in the garden and listen to the water fall from one level to another in the pond or take the rough-hewn oak steps up to the Crow's Nest. Sit quietly up there and you can might even see deer wandering through the woodland, or baby squirrels chasing each other around the beech tree that houses their dray. The endangered dormouse inhabits the woodland but so secretive that a sighting is unlikely - I just like to know they are there. Then there are the birds, from minute goldcrests to buzzards circling overhead.
For walking, suggested routes with maps and notes are available and anyone who wishes to cycle can discuss routes with your host - a keen walker and cyclist, knowledgable about the mid-Sussex area. All the walks have a pub somewhere along the way and cyclists will not be short of hostelries. One passes under the Balcombe viaduct on a circular walk from here to Balcombe, 5 hours approx. with Balcombe (tea room and pub) half way and views of Ardingly Reservoir on the return leg. Notes and map available.
Gardeners are well catered for in Sussex - so many gardens and nurseries to visit, that you are spoilt for choice. Sissinghurst is just over an hour's drive away, Nymans, Sheffield Park, Wakehurst and High Beeches ten minutes away and many more a short drive. High Beeches woodland garden is special because of the valley it inhabits - see the trees and shrubs from above as you descend into the valley from the entrance and then see them from underneath as you ascend. A spring and autumn garden that looks good (to me) all year round.
Pretty local villages including Lindfield, West Hoathly with its Priest House are well worth wandering around.
Churches often provide a great deal of interest and the country church, All Saints', at Tudeley (just inside the Kent border) is home to windows created by Marc Chagall.
If you want help planning days out, your host is only too happy to help.
Rooms, food and facilities
Copyhold Hollow has one double bedroom (en suite shower room) and one single (en suite bathroom) in the 16th century part of the house and a twin/double room (en suite shower room) in a later addition - probably about 1830s. Extra single beds can be added to any of the rooms.
The bedrooms all have hairdryers, bathrobes, flat-screen television, beverage tray (fresh milk kept in a fridge on the landing - no plastic milk here!)
There is a Guests' Sitting Room complete with inglenook fireplace which is kept lit during the cooler months. Two acres of garden - open under the National Garden Scheme - surround the house. A spring-fed stream and pond run through the cottage garden which gives way to steep slopes (I am hoping the rhododendrons I planted will knit together so little weeding will be required as I get older). An oak stumpery is maturing well and the rock garden is above that. Then there is the woodland enhanced with a winter garden and spring shrubs and bulbs - but less "gardened" so there is no sharp contrast between it and the wild woodland beyond. Plenty for children to run round around in or adults to enjoy slowly.
Seats are dotted about the garden and the Crows' Nest - a platform slung between two oak trees at the highest point of the garden - affords great views of the garden and surrounding woodland and meadows.
Dogs are welcome (sorry but there is a £10 per night, per dog charge) and there are three cats whose home this is - so your best friend on a lead, please.
How to find us
RH16 1XU - for those with satnav.
From Haywards Heath railway station (plenty of taxis) you can walk over the golf course - 40 minutes (ask for directions when booking).
By car, follow directions for Borde Hill Gardens, leave gardens on your left and take first right, signposted, Ardingly. Copyhold Hollow is half mile on right.
How this holiday makes a difference
Although a keen gardener, wildlife is encouraged by not "over gardening", leaving seed heads on plants, logs piles for insects, planting native as well as non-native shrubs, trees and plants. Some of the woodland is coppiced to provide renewable energy for open fires. Nothing is wasted - normal practice for those born just after WWII! Water buts are used in the garden. It is even hoped that guests will turn off lights when not in use and generally care for our environment by not running car engines whilst waiting for passengers to apply the last bit of make-up.
The environment here is partly shaped by the micro climate (frost pocket is a blunter description) caused by the hollow created by, I believe, quarrying of marl (clay for fertiliser) or iron ore for the once vibrant iron industry. Watching the seasons - New England can eat its heart out, our autumn colours are just as good - is wonderful. The first snowdrops in January are a sign that the soil is good and the lichens - most of which grow only 1mm a year - show that the air is clean. Frogs, newts, pond skaters, dragonflies, all declare the pond, fed by the numerous springs in the garden, to be in fine fettle.
I open the garden for the National Garden Scheme and all takings go to the charities it supports. The farmer lets NGS visitors park in his field across the road, so dry weather is always hoped for. B & B Guests are encouraged to frequent local pubs and restaurants run by local people (in preference to chain empires). I employ two local people, one of whom is able to tailor her hours to suit the needs of her school age family. The other works days to allow her to care for her elderly mother.
The breakfast apple juice comes from Tablehurst Farm at Forest Row, and I challenge anyone to taste better elsewhere. Information packs in each bedroom describing the activities available to visitors and residents of The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty give plenty of ideas for patronising the rural businesses in the area. Most of the pubs and restaurants use local produce - try The Sloop at Freshfield - their produce is nearly all locally sourced and it is one of my favourite pubs. The Bent Arms in Lindfield is another and The Witch, now a gastro-pub, also in Lindfield.
Located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I encourage guests to walk in the countryside - especially direct from Copyhold Hollow - so not using the car. I have tramped many of the footpaths and, as a result, there is a selection of self-guided walks which include starting points away from here taking in pubs/cafes. the shortest is 1.5 hours and the longest five hours.
I make my own bread, using wholemeal flour from the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum - they grind flour in their own mill on site. Cycles routes will take you to quiet villages, but for those wanting to enjoy it at its unearthly best, join me (summer months only) on a dawn ride, usually for about an hour. It is hilly terrain so you will be ready for breakfast when we return after an hour or so.