St Roche's Arboretum is a must-see in late spring with an abundant display of rhododendrons and azaleas. The 2.5 mile circuit walk encompasses a fine collection of specimen trees and shrubs and breathtaking views of the Sussex Downs and of the flint house of West Dean College of Arts and Conservation. Whatever the weather if you're after a country walk with stunning vistas then come to West Dean Gardens.
The 49-acre St Roche's Arboretum was started in the 1830s. Edward James kept his golden pheasants in the arboretum and made a significant contribution to its planting. West Dean Gardens hold two National Collections of Liriodendron, (Tulip Tree) and Aesculus (Horse Chestnut Tree) which can be seen throughout the garden and arboretum.
The Great Storm of 1987 devastated the arboretum, felling many exotic trees and destroying the underplanting. However, on reflection the storm that intially appeared disastrous has proved of long-term benefit. The arboretum has gone from being overplanted to a better balanced collection with more open woodland and large glades with interconnecting paths, perfect for visitors to explore.
Read more about the arboretum and the rest of West Dean Gardens in the Gardens book, available from the Gardens Shop.
A good network of public footpaths and bridleways makes it an inviting prospect for those who enjoy exploring on foot and this downloadable booklet contains six walks to give you some ideas. One route is also suitable for exploration by cyclists and horse riders.