My friend and I will be coming to London in the middle of May for 7 days. It is her first trip to England and she wants to see the Sissinghurst Gardens. We will not have a car. In looking at the information we will probably train down. Should we do this as a day trip or do you recommend that we spend the night? Are there other things we should see when in that area? We are also wanting to spend a couple of days in Bath and in London.
According to the website there's a bus from Maidstone (high-speed train from St Pancras to Ashford, then change, or slower train direct from Victoria) to Sissinghurst village but it's still almost two miles' walk to the castle.
Quoting a previous post by myself: As it happens, we had a short stay in London in September, 2019, and prioritized the very famous (but not that large) Sackville-West garden at Sissinghurst Castle. We undertook it "independently", which wasn't that hard. But by public transportation, it was a full-day out from London, and still cost close to $100 per person. But it's a really famous destination, and a must for us, after many trips to England.
Added comments: It appears that using a pre-arranged taxi service is much more practical that the sketchy public bus service. But maybe if you can find out about a specific pair of busses. The online research is quite difficult. But taxis ordered several weeks in advance worked great for us. It does add up, say $50 for two train tickets, $100 for two taxis, $60 ? for two garden tickets, and so on. When we tried to change our departure taxi to an hour earlier, the service told us that "after-school" is their busiest time and the pickup could not be changed. (Some school bus routes are more economical for the school board done by taxi than by bus, they said ... )
I agree that it would be "easier" by (right hand drive) car rental, but for a full-day outing anyway, I'd only rent the car if I was trying to do three major stops in a day, which is not a practical possiblity! There is a good cafe at Sissinghurst, with only a short line. Many people sign up for the residential cottage tours upon arrival because they have very limited capacity. But while they do show areas you can't otherwise see, I did not find them to be a magical window into the lives of the individuals involved.
In addition to the cultivated areas, there are meadow and forest walks, if you have the time. We had no trouble with bugs in the woods. There is at least one on-site B&B, as well as the National Trust rooms which probably book up in the first five minutes they go online each year! I did not feel any need to spend the night, but we did plan to blow a whole day on the no-car outing.
I have thought it would be fun to go stay for a couple of nights in Rye and visit Sissinghurst from there. But with only seven days total in London (and one day of that in Bath), that is probably more time than you want to give to being away from the city.
Look at www.nationaltrust.org.uk for other listings near Sissinghurst. You might look at Gardens Tours online for other ideas. I saw online a 5 day tour of famous homes and gardens of this area, which included teas, jazz party in a garden and hotel for 1200 pounds.
Sissinghurst is one of my local NT properties.
The easiest way to get there would be by train from Charing Cross to Staplehurst, then a taxi. Don’t go via St Pancras and Maidstone as it will take longer overall. It will take you about 3 hours to look round including grabbing a quick lunch. In addition to the main garden, buildings and vegetable garden, there are extensive walks around the estate.
The other NT properties in the vicinity such as Scotney Castle (not really a Castle) or Bodiam Castle would all require a taxi. You could take the train back as far as Sevenoaks and go to Knole (NT) for another Vita Sackville West fix. Sevenoaks is a pretty town to look round and have lunch or coffee.
Although an overnight stay would be great, with only a week, you don’t really have time for Sissinghurst and an overnight stay in Bath unless you don’t want to see much of London. A car would be beneficial for an overnight visit.
Thank you to everyone for the helpful information. Appreciate everyone's input. Thank you.
Thanks for the great tip on how to best visit as a day trip from London, Jennifer. Noted!!
Took me a while to find this additional report by me:
Thank you Tim for the information!