It’s a quintessential Provencal scene, blue sky overhead and rich purple fields to the horizon, maybe pull over your deux chevaux and have an impromptu picnic of freshly cooked baguette and brie and a glass or two of rosé. And then afterwards, perhaps head to Croydon IKEA…
Because, sadly, we’re not in Aix en Provence, we’re in Carshalton. Lavender is long associated with the South of France, but it turns out that London has a storied history of the stuff too; before it was crammed with houseshares of trainee lawyers, accountants and estate agents, Battersea’s Lavender Hill was awash with mauve, and in season the budding Insta famous still only needs to jump on a train, tram or bus to catch lavender fields within striking distance of town.
So here are some places to head to make the most of London lavender season…
Castle Farm, Kent
Just outside the M25, Orpington way, lies Kent’s Castle Farm.
The family run farm produces hops, apples and lavender, all Kentish staples, and the lavender makes for a perfect Instagram post.
So used to purple seekers are they that you can even book in for a professional photoshoot to make the most of the pre-harvest colours.
You can also take advantage of the farm’s Hop Shop, where you can buy all manner of farm-shoppy products, not least lavender oil in various guises.
Where: Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB
It feels a little incongruous that suburban Carshalton would be a lavender hotspot, but it turns out that lavender’s been grown here since Victorian times.
Accessible by bus from London (jump on a 166) or train, these rich purple hills could not be easier to get to. Depending where you start. And your appetite for public transport.
There’s also a great shop, letting you stock up on all your lavender needs.
Where: 1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, SM7 3JA
Just north of London, a short train ride out of King’s Cross (or a long one, if Govia Thameslink have anything to do with it), Hertfordshire’s Hitchin Lavender have over 25 miles of lavender rows.
Also, check out their 17th century barn, serving lunches and teas as well as selling a large variety of lavender plants and products.
Where: Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hitchin, Hertfordshire, SG5 3UA
A little further out of town, make a day of it and head to Norfolk. As well as experiencing the best of British countryside, you can enjoy the lavender on an actual lavender tour.
The 45 minute tour takes in all the lavender, before ending at the farm’s distillery where the purple plant is turned into lavender oil. And, presumably, you can buy some and enjoy the restaurant too.
Where: Caley Mill, Norfolk Lavender, Lynn Road, Heacham, PE31 7JE
Not-for-profit community project Carshalton Lavender occupies just three acres of lavender fields in Surrey’s Carshalton beaches alongside the local allotments.
The collective aim to keep the area’s lavender heritage alive for future generations and are open to the public for their annual harvest weekend at the end of July.
Where: Oaks Way, Carshalton, SM5 4NQ