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The parkland at Sheffield Park and Garden

Sunrise over Pillbox pond in July at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
A misty sunrise over Pillbox pond at Sheffield Park | © National Trust Images/John Miller

The historic parkland at Sheffield Park dates back several centuries and has had many uses, including as a deer park and a Second World War camp. It's now grazed by livestock and home to a wildlife haven, Skyglade and Ringwood Toll where young explorers can build dens and let their imaginations run wild.

Visiting the parkland at Sheffield Park & Garden

  • The parkland area is free to visit and is open dawn till dusk.
  • Dogs are welcome – but please keep them on a lead due to livestock grazing (apart from in East Park which is the only place in the estate that dogs are allowed off-lead).
  • There are no toilets or refreshments on the parkland.
  • Paths are unpaved and may prove difficult for visitors with mobility issues. Read our full access statement.
  • Please note that during the wet winter weather the bridge over the Hammerdick by Broad Mead was irreparably damaged and has been removed. There are alternative crossing places so the River Ouse is still accessible. To closs, please head across Irongates Mead with the wooden bridges at your back.

Space to play

Ringwood Toll offers a spot for den building and for imaginations to run wild. Or stop by Skyglade where you can indulge in some cloud watching.

Climb trees, fly kites and play in streams in this landscape that is nature’s outdoor playground.

Skyglade at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex
Skyglade at Sheffield Park and Garden, East Sussex | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler


As you walk on the parkland you may get glimpses of something sculptural but natural, hidden in a copse surrounded by fields. Go through the gate and you will discover Skyglade, a place for pausing and taking in views of the big open sky.

Skyglade has been built from eight 12ft panels of Sussex oak, all taken from the same tree. The bark has been left on the wood to give them a natural look in keeping with the veteran oaks that surround them. Placed at compass points, the panels create a viewing circle perfect for cloud spotting and stargazing events.

Wildlife to look out for


There may be hundreds of meadow browns across the parkland, peacocks in the Ringwood Toll copse, commas in East Park – and clouded yellows have been seen in good migration years.

Birds of prey

Sparrowhawks are the most common, but kestrels and buzzards can be seen circling overhead and a tawny owl has occasionally been spotted in Ringwood Toll and on the parkland.


A regular survey is carried out to monitor the different dragonfly and damselfly species that live in the garden and parkland. Over a 10-year period, the results show a positive growth in numbers and these insects make a spectacular sight skimming the top of the grass in the wildlife haven, near the river.

River and meadow birds

You may be lucky enough to spot one of the most coveted river birds – the kingfisher. They're not that easy to spot but catching that flash of orange and blue is well worth the wait. As a result of the River Ouse Restoration Project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, lapwings, redwings, fieldfares, skylarks, green sandpipers and yellowhammers have all been spotted on the parkland.

East Park meadow

An area of meadow in East Park is managed to encourage native wildflower species. Look out for bluebells in spring and common spotted orchids in early summer in the more wooded areas.

Flood meadow

There's an ongoing project with Sussex University and Wakehurst Place to reintroduce a range of wild flowers to the flood meadow. Thousands of seeds and ‘plugs’ of cowslips, ox-eye daisy and other species have been sown and planted by staff and volunteers and the area is being specially managed to allow them to establish.

Sunrise over Pillbox pond in July at Sheffield Park, East Sussex
A misty sunrise over Pillbox pond at Sheffield Park | © National Trust Images/John Miller

History still visible today

Copses of trees are dotted around the hillside, attributed to 'Capability' Brown, and creating the English landscape appearance he was so famous for. Also dating back to the same time is Irongates Lock, built by the First Earl of Sheffield to allow navigation of the River Ouse.

As part of the River Ouse Restoration Project supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we were able to carry out works to conserve this historic lock.

Listen out for steam trains

While walking in the parkland you'll often hear the sound of the steam trains approaching on the Bluebell Railway and spot the tell-tale sign of clouds of steam through the trees. At such moments, it's easy to imagine that this landscape has remained largely unchanged for the last 100 years.

Look out for pillboxes

A well-preserved pillbox from when Canadian troops were stationed here in the Second World War can be found at the bottom of Spring Field, nestled in the hillside. One of many pillboxes located along the River Ouse, the inside is well preserved with five large weapon shelves and faint graffiti marks remaining from its time in use.

Spot the Nissen huts

Around East Park you can see the remains of brick and concrete bases of the Nissen huts, used as dormitories, washrooms, storage huts, workshops and mess rooms to cater for all the needs of the troops. Over 100 huts were laid out in a random formation beneath the tree canopies, hidden from view of any enemy planes.

View from First Bridge towards Middle Lake at Sheffield Park East Sussex

Discover more at Sheffield Park and Garden

Find out when Sheffield Park and Garden is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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