Lavender season in London. When cherry blossom posts and wisteria hysteria start to wither away, it means sweeping fields of lavender are nigh.
Here are some of our favourite lavender farms and fields to visit near London — all of them are welcoming visitors this year. Check websites for tickets and more details, and remember to make sure the lavender's in bloom before you make a special trip, as the season can vary by a couple of weeks.
1. Mayfield Lavender Farm, London
Just, *just* within the boundaries of London itself, Mayfield Lavender Farm is the closest lavender field to central London. It gained Instagram fame a few years ago, partly thanks to the red phone box plonked strategically in the middle of a field.
The 25-acre farm is a sea of purple, enticing visitors to glide through it, as if in a purple-tinged dream. It gets very busy at weekends, so visit on a weekday if possible. There's a cafe and shop on site too, selling lavender ice cream, cream teas, cider (!), toiletries and other lilac-tinged treats.
Tractor rides are available for an additional £2.50 per person, with a circuit of the farm taking about 20 minutes.
Photography among the lavender is encouraged (there's even an official competition every year), but if you're taking part in a professional or extensive photoshoot, you'll need to register and pay a fee. No drones are allowed, and neither are picnics.
Open to the public: Open 10 June-31 August 2023, with lavender expected to bloom towards the end of June. Entry is £5 per person age 14+, no advance booking required.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Lane, Banstead, SM7 3JA.
The farm also has a nursery and farm shop based in Epsom and open year-round.
2. Castle Farm Lavender and The Hop Shop, Sevenoaks, Kent
If you've taken the train between Orpington and Sevenoaks during lavender season, you'll have seen the bright purple fields next to the railway. They're part of the extensive Castle Farm empire, which is the largest producer of lavender in the UK — so naturally, they have a LOT going on during lavender season. Think guided tours through the fields and lavender distillery, picnics among the lavender, and self-guided walks with plenty of photo opportunities. In previous years, they've even offered professional massages among the lavender.
The farm's 1,100 acres are spread all over this part of Kent, but the activity all takes place at The Hop Shop near Shoreham. If you visit, sample the lavender ice cream available in the farm shop — delish.
Open to the public: The Hop Shop farm shop is open all year, but access to other parts of the farm is only available in lavender season, late June-late July. Booking for the 2023 lavender season opens in June. Guided tours from £12 adult/£6 child, lavender picnics from £12 adult/£6 child, lavender walks from £4 adult/£2.50 child.
The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB. The village of Otford, with its own solar system, is under 10 minutes drive away if you want to make a day of it.
3. Hitchin Lavender, Hertfordshire
If you want to know what 25 miles of lavender rows looks like, head to Hertfordshire and wander around in the Hitchin Lavender fields.
Entry includes access to the fields, and in previous years, you've been able to pick a bag of lavender to take home with you (extra charge, bring your own scissors). Once you've worked up a sweat, lunches, cakes and drinks are available to buy in the cafe in the 17th century barn. You're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
There's a small museum on site (free entry), with a replica of the Perks & Llewellyn pharmacy, well-known in the 19th century for its lavender products. Professional photography is permitted, at an extra cost.
If you can tear your eyes away from the lavender for a minute or two, the hillside location of the farm offers views all over the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire countryside.
Open to the public: Lavender fields open 2 July- 4 August 2023. Tickets from £6.50 adult/£5 child, can be booked in advance (which is cheaper) although advance booking isn't mandatory. The barn, play area and museum open from 5 June 2023 — free entry, no booking required.
Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hertfordshire, SG5 3UA.
4. Finchingfield Camping and Lavender, Essex
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Towards the north of Essex, Finchingfield is home to a camping and glamping site located in a wildflower meadow, with its own micro lavender farm on site.
Campers can visit the lavender field at any time during their stay — which means you can spend your evening, including sunset, immersed in the purple hues, before returning to your luxury tent for a lavender-induced snooze. Not much of a camper? No problem — a limited number of day visitor tickets are available for each day during the lavender season, and there's also a call-out for volunteers to help with the lavender harvest at the end of the season. There's a cafe on site selling snacks and drinks to visitors. No dogs allowed. The nearby village of Finchingfield is pretty darn picturesque too.
Finchingfield Camping and Lavender, Howe Street, Finchingfield, Essex, CM7 4JB. Details for 2023 season TBC — watch this space.
5. Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire
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For a grand day out in the opposite direction, head to the Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm. Visiting the lavender itself is usually restricted to certain open days, when you can stroll through the seven varieties being grown, as well as a wildflower field.
The rest of the time, the lavender shop is open to the public, and there's a coffee shop too, but there's no access to the fields.
Open to the public: 2023 details TBC, but usually late June-early August.
Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP
6. Lordington Lavender, Chichester, West Sussex
10 acres of Mailette lavender are grown at Lordington Lavender in the South Downs each year, though open days to visit the field are restricted to just one week in July. On these days anyone (and their dog) is welcome to walk among the lavender and take photos, as well as enjoying tea and cake overlooking the fields.
There are also a couple of adults-only evening events, where you can enjoy food and drink among the lavender as the sun sets.
Lordington Lavender, Lordington, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 9DX. Open days 12-16 July 2023, no ticket required.
Within London, Kennington Park, Vauxhall Park and Kew Gardens are all home to pockets of lavender — ideal if you're looking to inhale the heady scent without making a full day trip.