Mayfield might seem like a sleepy village but just scratch the surface a little and you’ll find there are lots of things going on in the area. Apart from a walk around the village to discover some of the architecture and history (there’s a notice board in the high street near the phonebox that has the details), it’s worth heading slightly further afield to enjoy and explore this area of East Sussex.
Things to do in Mayfield:
There never seems a better place to start than with a vineyard and there are three local to Mayfield which all offer tours and tastings. Off The Line near Hellingly, is a member of Sustainable Wines of Great Britain. They produce three different styles of still rosé and host pre-booked guided tours and tastings and a self-guided walk. Their wines are of course available to taste and buy from the winery tasting room and outside area.
Wildwood Vineyard is at nearby Eridge and they grow Bacchus, Pinot Noir and Regent to produce their award-winning still and sparkling wine. They offer guided tastings of three of their still wines or you can just visit their cellar. Last but not least, Hidden Spring at Horam also produce still and sparkling wines and their tours take you via the vines and their winery, with a tutored tasting of four still and sparkling wines in their purpose-built tasting room.
Tinkers Park and the Claude Jessett Collection
Tinkers Park is home to an impressive collection of steam traction engines, steam rollers, a fair organ museum, a miniature railway, and historic farming equipment. They host various events throughout the year which include a Steam Rally in June, a Model Railway event in August, and an Open Day in September where you can learn about their collections and activities. At the open day, you can also ride on the miniature railway or in the traction engine trailer rides and there are vintage, classic and historic vehicles on show.
Wilderness Wood is 62 acres of working woodland with fantastic views and a variety of things going on. There are walks, play areas, woodland products for sale, stalls, a café and workshops. In particular, there’s an A to Z trail that runs around the perimeter of the wood that takes about 45 minutes with play structures, artworks, leaky dams, and amazing woodland architecture along the way. Wilderness Woods also hosts a number of regular events throughout the week which includes Qi Gong on Wednesdays. They also host lots of half-term events including woodblock printing and herbal workshops and lots of things for kids.
The Heffle Cuckoo Fair and Trail
Until recently, the Heffle Cuckoo Fair happened every year in April in Heathfield. It dates back to an old tradition started in 1315 where Dame Heffle (the old Sussex name for Heathfield) used to arrive at a gypsy market and release cuckoos to announce the start of spring. These days it usually includes performances throughout the day as well as craft stalls, gypsy caravans, vintage cars, an old-fashioned funfair, a dog show and lots, lots more! A victim of Covid, it hasn’t happened for the last two years but fingers crossed it will return soon.
Named after the fair, the Cuckoo Trail runs from Heathfield down to Eastbourne along 11 miles of old railway line. There are also a number of medium distance circular cycling routes that you can pick up from along the Cuckoo Trail. Horam and Hellingly vineyards are also en route if you want to cycle to a vineyard. What’s more Mayfield is on the National Cycling Route 21 which runs south from Greenwich out of London through Lewisham (the Waterlink Way) to Crawley, and then via East Grinstead and Eridge to Heathfield and Eastbourne.
Reluctant as we are to mention Kent, Tunbridge Wells (just over the border in Kent) is a bit of a must-do for visitors to Mayfield. From shopping and the famous Chalybeate Spring in the elegant covered and colonnaded Pantiles to museums, art galleries, and the theatre, Tunbridge Wells remains a pretty town and a pleasant place to visit.
Mayfield Festival of Music and the Arts is an English arts festival primarily devoted to classical music and this year their festival will be taking place from the 23rd April to the 8th May. They have a whole host of events which include an art exhibition of the work of internationally renowned artist Tom Hammick, folk music, classical music, performances by Joe Stilgoe, and even a Shakespeare Sonnet Saunter – AKA a walk around Mayfield whilst being entertained by actors reciting sonnets.
Argos Hill Windmill
Argos Hill Windmill is a Grade 2* listed building dating from 1835. It is located on top of Argos Hill, just north of Mayfield, and is one of only 50 post mills remaining in England. There is very limited parking except on their special open days, but it’s a pleasant 6 km walk there and back from the village. Closed for Covid reasons, the windmill hopes to re-open soon.
This little corner of Sussex is full of delights, and Mayfield remains a great base from which to explore them.
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