Natural Surroundings has a great variety of things to see and do, all based on our mission: to promote wildlife-friendly gardening and the enjoyment, appreciation and understanding of the natural world. We encourage you to spend time and really explore our eight acres, and as well as our spacious riverside hide there are lots of places to sit and enjoy the ambiance.
To properly explore our gardens and reserve we recommend you allow at least a couple of hours - some visitors spend all day with us and still tell us they have not seen everything.
The terrain at Natural Surroundings is gentle although often sloping, and in keeping with our philosophy, many of the paths are grass or woodchip. They can be wet any time of year, especially after rain, but almost everywhere is accessible dry-shod with a decent pair of outdoor shoes.
Much of our eight acres is given over to a wildlife reserve, with wet and dry meadows and wet woodland, while to the west we are bounded by the River Glaven, an internationally rare 'chalk river'.
Set in the heart of the Bayfield Estate and surrounded by majestic Beech and Lime trees, the 'Little Café in the Woods' at Natural Surroundings is unique. We offer a range of simple but tasty food and drink for a snack or light lunch, including home-made cakes and home-made soups.
Dating from the First World War, this wooden building houses a small wildlife library as well as occasional exhibitions. It is also home to our Harvest Mice, which are great favourites with everyone that visits: beware, you may fall in love!
Natural Surroundings is a wonderful place for children to explore and enjoy the natural world. The Harvest Mice in the Chalet are a great favourite. Further afield there is lots more to see. The Kitchen Garden and The Cage have a selection of insectivorous plants (as well as other, more sinister, inhabitatnts), The ‘Un-nature Trail’ down by the river is great for small children, as is our ‘For Flora for Fauna’ garden and the adjacent Human Badger Sett. From time to time we also devise a variety of trails and scavanger hunts to encourage children (and their parents) to look around them and observe just a little bit harder.
Natural Surroundings is a great place for photography, especially if you are interested in flowers (both cultivated in the gardens and the wildflowers in our reserve), insects and other widlife. See our photography page for a selection of images taken at Natural Surroundings.
Well-behaved dogs are very welcome, but must be on a short lead at all times throughout the site (and short means less than two metres please - long flexi-leads can be a significant trip hazard for our staff and customers!).
We ask all dog owners to be considerate of others. Please do not allow your dogs onto our sofas or the cafe tables, and if they need a drink please use the bowl outside the café.
Always clean up after you dog should it feel the need to go. We do not have dedicated bins for do mess so please take it home and do not dump it anywhere in our grounds or in the car park!
We ask visitors to Natural Surroundings not to bring picnics. Our café is an integral park of the business and we ask you to make use of the facility that it offers and in the process support our work. We understand that parents may wish to bring in their own food for very small children (under fives) as they can be a bit fussy and our menu may not be entirely suitable, but older children and adults should restrict themselves to food and drink purchased in the café. If you have any special requirements please do not hesitate to ask.
Throughout our gardens and reserve there are places to sit, relax and take in the view. Due to the sloping nature of our site we have limited accessibility for those in a wheelchair or mobility scooter. The shop, cafe and tea garden are usually accessible with care, as is the nursery - do not hesitate to ask for assistance if needed. In our gardens and reserve many of our paths are grass or woodchip, and these can be soft when wet. The ground is also often uneven (we have a healthy population of Moles to thank for that). Whether or not access is possible in a wheelchair depends very much on the stature of the person in the wheelchair and on their helper if present - please ask for advice on arrival. We do not normally allow mobility scooters into the gardens and reserve unless they are robust, three-wheel 'all-terrain' models.
Groups are welcome to visit Natural Surroundings and we can also offer guided walks of the Centre or the Estate. The cafe can seat 26 inside, with the same number of seats outside in the warmer months. Please contact us to discus your requirements.