What to see and do?

Spa Valley Railway » Visitor Information » What to see and do?

Welcome to the Spa Valley Railway, our slogan of "A DESTINATION AT EVERY STATION!" is certainly one that we are proud of as at every station we are very lucky to have attractions you can enjoy when you visit us!

Travel by mainline trains operated by Southern Railway to Eridge where you can commence your journey through the wonderful High Weald Countryside and experience all the attractions we have to offer.

Eridge

The delightful country junction station, now a shadow of its former glory, once upon a time served stations such as Eastbourne, Lewes, East Grinstead and Three Bridges however following the Beeching Axe in the 1960s is now just a through station serving locations such as Uckfield, Crowborough and Oxted. Platforms 2 & 3 are now served by our trains into the High Weald and many hours of voluntary labour have gone in to restoring the station to its British Railways Southern 1960's Green & Cream colour scheme.

At Eridge we have access to some vast and delightful walks through the woods towards Harrison's Rocks, Forge Farm and Groombridge.

Also at Eridge there is the popular Huntsman Public House which serves local seasonal food, fine wine, great beer, and as they say themselves they are the best kept secret in Eridge!

Groombridge

Our principle intermediate station, alight here to visit Groombridge Place Gardens & Enchanted Forest and also the delightful village divided between Kent & Sussex. Our station is newly constructed as the original station was demolished to make way for a new housing development in the 1990s, what you see today is the work of truly dedicated volunteers who have spent thousands of hours developing Groombridge into the wonderful station that we have today. Please do visit the restored Old Station Building which is now used jointly by ourselves as a Ticket Office and also the home of our Admin team plus Withyham Parish Council.

Known as one of the sunniest spots on the railway and also the crossing point for trains, you can enjoy a snack or drink whilst savouring in the past at our country station.

What to see in Groombridge:

  • Groombridge Place & Enchanted Forest
  • The Junction Inn
  • The Crown Inn
  • Walks to Harrison’s Rocks
  • Join the Forest Way to the historic villages of Withyham & Hartfield (Winnie the Pooh Country)
  • St Thomas’ Church of 1884 

Groombridge Place & Enchanted Forest - Travel there with combined tickets!

Discover the beautiful award-winning gardens and the forest with its giant swings, zip wires and Crusoe’s World and get there by Steam or Heritage Diesel train!

We offer joint tickets with Groombridge Place so you can even leave the car at home if coming via Southern to Eridge. Leave the Southern train at Eridge and cross the footbridge to board a Spa Valley Railway train. On a Green timetabled day depart at 11:10 and arrive at Groombridge at 11:24.

After a gentle stroll to Groombridge Place you can spend a good few hours visiting all they have to offer before boarding our 16:31 returning service to Eridge Station or, if you return to Groombridge Station early enough (for our 15:46 train) your ticket will allow you to travel to Tunbridge Wells West before heading back to Eridge, this service also being Steam hauled!

Combined tickets which allow you a journey over the whole of the Spa Valley Railway and entry to Groombridge Place are just £17.95 for Adults, £15.50 for Seniors and £12.00 for Children! You can book these tickets by clicking here.

What to see at Groombridge Place?

The Knot Garden


Boasting a wonderful display of tulips. In summer the two colour contrast is maintained using different planting schemes each year. The Giant Chessboard opposite the Knot Garden will entertain visitors of all ages.

The central pathway through the gardens leads along the Apostle Walk, bordered on each side by 12 drum yews, thought to have survived from the original planting in 1674.

The open door in the wall by the edge of the moat leads to The Secret Garden, a tiny hidden corner where the waters of the stream feed the moat. In spring the pink blossom of the cherry tree overhang the azaleas and late flowering snowdrop candelabra primulas. In late May the garden is garlanded with laburnum. On hot summer days the deep shade and cooling waters make the Secret Garden a reflective oasis.

The Secret Garden


The Secret Garden, which is sited in the corner of the gardens and reached by opening a thick wooden door, has recently benefitted from a renovation project which has seen extensive new planting which includes beautiful blue agapanthus, foxgloves and gazania. The streams which give the garden a cool feel, tumble down rocks into the moat, which surrounds the historic manor house. A bridge has also been restored and wooden seating added.

Many areas of the gardens have some interesting histories attached to them and the Secret Garden is no exception. Philip Packer, who was a courtier to Charles II and a friend to Christopher Wren, rebuilt Groombridge with Wren’s help in 1662 and it was here in the secret garden, said to be his favourite garden, that he died while reading a book in the sunshine on Christmas Eve in 1686.

Philip Packer also laid out the gardens surrounding Groombridge Place from 1674 with the help of horticulturalist and famous diarist John Evelyn who designed a series of formal gardens arranged as "outside rooms" of the house. The idea was to blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors which is a theme which became popular again in the twentieth century. Some of Evelyn's garden rooms at Groombridge also pre-empted modern design in creating an artfully "natural" landscape. The Secret Garden is the best example.

The White Rose Garden

Commemorating the 200 year ownership of the estate by the Waller family and is a celebration of the art of planting in shades of white; featuring over twenty varieties of white rose. Other white-flowering plants provide season-long beauty, including foxtail lilies, primulas, tulips, peonies, poppies, hyacinths and lavender.

The Peacock Walk is planted with a variety of shrubs, including rhododendrons, viburnum, aucuba and azalea. The garden wall is a favourite roosting place for the Groombridge peacocks.

One of the garden highlights is the herbaceous border planted with clematis and a rich collection of traditional English perennials, including asters, cynara, rudbeckia, salvias and hollyhocks. In spring the focus is on tulips and primulas.

The Oriental Garden

Zinging with vibrant hot colours, shaded by magnificent Japanese maples and has a new, very unusual, grass fountain at its centre.

The Drunken Garden

A favourite of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has a blue and yellow theme, with veronica, clematis, ceanothus and lilies.

Draughtsman’s Lawn

A white mulberry tree, planted in 1993 marks Groombridge’s connection with the smuggling trade. Early in the year there are spring bulbs and primroses, a beautiful magnolia stellata and a variety of azaleas. In summer the ornamental trees and shrubs provide a striking display of contrasting leaf colours, from deep copper to lime green.

Crusoe’s World


Crusoe’s World was inspired by TV series Crusoe. Original props from this TV series were reconstructed at Groombridge Place.

Two tree houses are linked together with rope bridges and a central viewing tower. They are on several levels with decking and platforms, sheltered under sail roofs. There is a lookout post high above one of the tree houses, providing fabulous views over the canal, open countryside and also even our trains on the Spa Valley Railway!

Outdoor adventures


Take a walk along the forest pathways with its lakes and hidden surprises along the way. Look out for the Fallow deer, squirrels and other wildlife. Discover the tepees and the fort before taking the ‘Boardwalk Challenge’ with its aerial walkways, tunnels, rope swings and child’s zip wire. Children and adults alike will enjoy the giant tree swings which are suspended from the tallest trees in the forest.

Visit Groombridge Place's website here.

High Rocks

The smallest however probably the most picturesque station on our line, built from scratch and opened in 1998 following the closure of the original halt in the 50s, serves the fantastic High Rocks themselves and the delightful Inn.

High Rocks Halt is actually set in the gardens of the High Rocks Inn. This is an ideal place to sit and watch the trains go by whilst enjoying a drink in the landscaped gardens. A very unique station in a beautiful location, one stop on your journey you must make!

These date back millions of years, acres of breath taking sandstone rocks are linked with eleven bridges. You can also enjoy the High Rocks Inn and function complex, plus access to the High Weald countryside and woodland footpaths.

Tunbridge Wells West (for Royal Tunbridge Wells)

Since 1606 visitors have been coming to Royal Tunbridge Wells to experience the Chalbeayte Spring.

Its chance discovery by Lord North, who was returning to London after a three month stay in the county, lead to the growth of Royal Tunbridge Wells and also the famous Pantiles.

The news of Lord Norths discovery soon spread around and in 1629 the first royal visitor to the town became Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles 1, who stayed in the Wells for six weeks.

In 1909 King Edward VII officially recognised the popularity of the town with its many royal visitors, which included his mother, Queen Victoria, and granted the town its "Royal” prefix.

Today the town is still full of elegance and its original charm and the Spa Valley Railway takes you right to its Western edge, just a few minutes walk from the Pantiles.

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