Normally found growing in Provence and other rather picturesque parts of France, over the years English lavender has started to become a big hit with locals and tourists.
But you won’t just find it in health food shops and up-market beauty boutiques or even the local garden centre.
Nowadays it’s the actual fields where the lavender is being grown in that’s drawing big crowds, who flock to rural and idyllic spots in the English countryside to walk around, photograph and buy fresh (and rather fabulous smelling) lavender.
Last year, Instagrammers gave their recommendations for the best English lavender fields – and their recommendations did not disappoint.
I decided to follow the crowds down to one of the suggested farms to see what all the fuss was about.
I arrived on an overcast, but warm august weekday afternoon at Mayfield Farm in Banstead, Surrey.
While I didn’t spot a single sign on route, you only have to follow the masses who all decided to join me at this field in a rather remote but gorgeous part of the Surrey countryside.
Boasting 25 acres of the gorgeous purple stuff, Mayfield Lavender Farm has been going for over 10 years.
It proudly claims to be a family run business – and the fact that the entrance fee is just a pound, suggests there’s no corporate giant trying to muscle in and fleece tourists here.
In fact, the reasonable charges are incredibly refreshing to see.
It has a beautiful rustic charm about it – it’s essentially a field full of lavender, a small cafe at the entrance, and car parking is free at the edge of the field (if you’re able to find somewhere to park – it does get very busy!) and from there you can literally meander into the fields.
As you step from the car, the wafting aroma of lavender literally hits you. For as far as the eye can see the field is awash with purple flowers, and people jumping around taking selfies.
Walking along the paths into the field is a relaxing and somewhat romantic experience. The smell is incredible and although you and hundreds of others are all savouring this moment, you begin to stop noticing everyone else and fall in love with the beauty of the farm.
If you take a look on Instagram and discover some of the perfect insta-ready images, you’d be forgiven in thinking that most people have the whole field to themselves.
So you have to be rather crafty (or a dab hand at Photoshop…) to make it look like you have a whole English lavender field to yourself.
But the crowds don’t detract from the experience in the slightest. Part of the fun is watching all the posing, selfie-taking and other rather extravagant photography taking place.
They have even handily provided lots of beautiful ‘English’ props – like phone boxes – if that’s your sort of thing.
There’s no time limit in place and you can walk and selfie take all day long if you so wish. The team behind this lavender farm like photography so much, they even have their own photography competition.
You can even take your pet pooch with you (as long as it’s well behaved) and once you’ve had your fill of the fields, then you can head to the cafe and sample lavender in pretty much everything including (very reasonably priced) lavender tea & cake.
Just be prepared to queue as the cafe is usually very popular.
In case that’s not enough lavender for one day – you can even purchase bunches to take home and dry, which is exactly what i’ve done.
A wonderful reminder from a fabulous day ambling through the purple haze.
So is it worth it? And is the fuss about lavender justifiable?
I have to admit I was a little skeptical but after spending 4 hours meandering through the purple fields I think i’m going to have to make it an annual event.
Want to visit?
Mayfield Lavender Field is open from June – September. Exact dates depending on when the flowers bloom and when harvesting takes place, so check out the website to make sure it’s open.
Banstead is a short train and bus ride from London. Alternatively you can drive there too and utilise the free parking.