Have you ever been so blown away by a picture – something shared on social media, a postcard sent by a friend or a photo in a guide book perhaps – of somewhere so beautiful, so mesmerising, that you’ve instantly wanted to go there, to see it for yourself? This happens to me all the time; so much so that I’m constantly adding things to my bucket list (unfortunately quicker than I can tick them off at the moment).
I’ve said it before, but Instagram is forever fuelling my wanderlust. One morning last week, as I habitually scrolled through my feed on my way to work, I came across my friend (and fellow blogger) Erica‘s dreamy purple-hued pics of a lavender farm she’d visited the previous weekend. It looked like the perfect place to relax and unwind – but not content with just seeing a picture, I had to go and see it with my own eyes.
That’s why, much like those times when I saw pictures of the Czech Republic Skywalk and the Chouara Tannery and had to spontaneously jet off to satisfy my wanderlust, as soon as the weather permitted, off to Mayfield Lavender farm I went…
After a week of continuous drizzle and grey cloudy skies, I decided to make the most of the dry, sunny Saturday that had been forecast and arranged an impromptu trip to Banstead with my friend Bambi, in search of purple lavender.
Mayfield Lavender farm is a family-run certified organic lavender farm, situated in the picturesque North Surrey Downs, less than 15 miles from central London. Owners Brendan and Lorna have been growing lavender for over 10 years, and love to welcome visitors to their 25 acres of fields, blooming with several varieties of lavender.
The lavender is grown on one of the same fields where it was originally grown back in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Over 100 years ago, Banstead and the surrounding area was home to a thriving industry which supplied lavender (which was viewed as a premium product) to companies such as Yardley and Potter & Moore. But sadly, as suburbia encroached and lavender went out of fashion, the miles and miles of beautiful purple fields disappeared.
That was until Mayfield Lavender not only revived the appreciation of lavender (who doesn’t appreciate such pretty pictures?), but has brought organic farming to the masses, making Mayfield the largest organic lavender farm in the UK, certified by the Soil Association.
Lavender is renowned for its wonderful, calming properties. And despite the early start, Bambi and I certainly felt very relaxed walking up and down the fields among the bushes, surrounded by an ethereal haze of purple.
The fragrant fields were full of tourists taking selfies and photos, though fortunately the farm has room for everyone – even casual local daytrippers like us.
There is something so soothing and restorative about the smell of lavender – you can feel the purpley perfume filling your nostrils, the hum of the bees buzzing from bush to bush, and all around you are bursts of beautiful blooms, as far as the eye can see.
Mayfield Lavender doesn’t use pesticides or fertilisers, so all weed control is done by hand (which it says is an enormous and never-ending job, as you can imagine). But as a result, the lavender and its oil are free of agricultural chemicals and residues. The fields are also a magnet for many species of insects and bird – from butterflies, bumble bees and honey bees, to pheasants and the family of kestrels that has made Mayfield its home, even when the day visitors have gone, the farm is still a hive of activity.
It’s such a shame that the UK’s climate only allows the flower to bloom from June to September. But during those months Mayfield Lavender farm is open daily from 9am until 6pm (including bank holidays). This may vary at the start or end of the season though, so it’s worth checking the website and social media before you make the trip.
Entry costs just £1 per adult and there is no charge for children under 16.
The farm attracts visitors from far and wide, so it can get very busy at weekends (especially during July, when the lavender is at its peak). Therefore, if you’re planning a trip over to Banstead, I’d recommend going early to avoid the crowds (and people wandering aimlessly into your shots).
We arrived at just gone 10am on Saturday, and the car park was already filling up. Luckily we were able to find a couple of unoccupied lanes of lavender in the back field, where we took most of these pictures (all taken on my mobile phone, by the way).
It’s worth noting that the car park at Mayfield has limited capacity, and when full cars are directed to the car park at the old Walcountians Rugby Club. It’s on Carshalton Road, a short walk away – however it operates independently so may be chargeable.
If you fancy visiting Mayfield Lavender yourself, it’s pretty easy to find. If you’re driving, just pop the postcode SM7 3JA into your sat nav. Or if you’re coming by public transport, there are a few options:
- Train from London Victoria to West Croydon, then take the 166 bus to the farm gate (this way can get busy in peak season)
- Train from London Victoria to Sutton, then take the S1 bus to Banstead (Woolpack stop) and then the 166 bus to the farm gate (slightly faster route)
- Train from London Victoria to Purley Station, cross the road to the large Tesco and take the 166 bus to Oaks Park from the front of the store (top tip from a regular customer)
- Take a train from London Victoria to Sutton or Cheam and take a cab/minicab to the farm (fastest route).
As well as the acres of lavender, Mayfield Lavender also offers a little airstream cafe, a gift shop and a picnic area (though picnics are not actually permitted in the fields).
Hungry and decaffeinated after our early morning start, we headed over to the little trailer that housed the cafe, where we had a long chat with the server and her super cute son.
The sweet treats on offer at the cafe were all homemade, and (unsurprisingly) all lavender based. I’m a big fan of desserts, so decided two cupcakes washed down with a cup of lavender tea. Covered in rich buttery icing, the cupcakes were so big they could have easily been classed as muffins, so were very good value at just £2.50 each.
After munching on the delicious-but-very-sweet s we made our way back across the field to have a mooch in the gift shop, we suddenly realised how busy it was. Little clusters of people were dotted all over the fields; lovestruck couples walking hand-in-hand, young children being chased by parents with cameras trying unsuccessfully to take their picture, dogs on leads itching to break free and run wild, their owners struggling to hold them back.
People were waiting to take turns posing in front of a phone box in the corner of the field (still not quite sure why that was there, but the bright red certainly made for a stark contrast against the pastel purples of the lavender).
A large selection of plants are available to buy at the nursery, including a really tiny Peter Pan variety of lavender I’d never seen before. Inside the pop-up shop, there are all kinds of lavender produce.
Some of the edible products were definitely tempting, especially the handmade lavender mini meringues, the various teas, the ice cream, and so many different chutneys. I love a good homemade chutney, with cheese and crackers on a cold winters night (which I’m sure we’ll have plenty of soon enough).
And then there were all the lavender non-edible products, ranging from hand creams and shampoos to reed diffusers, candles and soaps.
Something that instantly caught my eye, evoking memories of my grandma, was the box of little lavender sachets and pillows. Seeing them fondly reminded me of a weekend at grandmas when I was about six or seven years old, of the two of us sat there making lavender “smellies” to put in the pants and socks drawers, using fresh lavender from her garden and scraps of silky white fabric from my mum’s wedding dress, tying them with an elastic band. It’s a memory I will treasure forever.
Mayfield Lavender farm is the perfect backdrop to get some creative photos, a real Instagrammers purple paradise. Entry to the beautiful Surrey spot is just £1, and it’s open from June to September. You can even tuck into a lovely lavender cream tea or a bottle of lavender cider. And all of this is just a couple of buses away from London.
If you go, I hope you have a fantastic day – be sure to pop back and leave me a comment below to let me know what you thought of Mayfield Lavender farm.