Situated on the south coast of England, right below London, Sussex is a county renowned for its beautiful countryside and coastline. Here I will give you a taste of the top places to visit in Sussex to enjoy nature.
According to legend, this 300-foot valley results from the devil’s abortive attempt to flood Sussex. He was frightened off by a crowing rooster and accidentally threw a shovelful of earth into the sea that then became the Isle of Wight. That’s one of the top places to visit in Sussex.
What to do: Enjoy the panorama! Devil’s Dyke is the UK’s largest dry valley, and at different times of the year, it’s draped in mist and carpeted in wildflowers. The painter John Constable called it “the grandest view in the world” so, you know, bring your binoculars – then enjoy a local ale in The Devil’s Dyke pub.
The faded Regency seaside glamour of Brighton is a real pull for tourists. Avoid the weekend crush and wander around on a weekday, allowing yourself time and space to take in the shabby-chic sights.
What to do:
- Mooch around the Lanes.
- Admire the insanely OTT glamour of the Royal Pavilion.
- Try the fish at Riddle and Finns by the beach or Fishy Fishy in the Lanes.
- Stroll on Brighton Pier.
At 813 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in East Sussex. In times past, locals would light warning beacons here to alert their neighbours to imminent invasion.
What to do: Bring a picnic, take in the dizzying 360-degree views across the county, marvel at the brave people hang-gliding in the area, and enjoy a soft scoop of ice cream from the van that seems to have been on site every day for the past 50 years.
This distinctive vintage steam-train line has been running along the picturesque border of East and West Sussex since 1960.
What to do: Hop on at Sheffield Park, sit back, and enjoy the view of East Grinstead. Enjoy afternoon tea in the lounge car, take a vineyard tour, and visit the same bridge where the game ‘Pooh Sticks’ was dreamed up.
One of the best places to visit in Sussex if you’re a fan of medieval history; visit the town that sprang up directly after the Battle of Hastings, which changed the course of British history in 1066.
What to do: Visit the Abbey of St Martin, built by William the Conqueror. Watch a re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings and even learn archery.
The Cliff Railways, Hastings
Hastings’ Cliff Railways are funicular railways built into the cliff face. The East Cliff Railway takes you to Hastings Country Park, and the West Cliff Railway has views round to Beachy Head. If heights aren’t really your thing, this might not be of the best places to visit in Sussex
What to do:
- Have a coffee on colourful George Street.
- Visit the Shipwreck Museum.
- Gaze at the Old Town.
The Long Man of Wilmington, Polegate
This 227-foot hill figure (also known as the Green Man, the Lanky Man, and the Lone Man) dates back to the Iron Age, although it may well have been created in Tudor times. No one really knows for sure.
What to do: Stop off to admire the giant while breezing through the glorious Sussex countryside. Then, once you’re finished searching for faded facial features, seek refreshment at the nearby Giant’s Rest pub.
By day, the market town of Lewes is a genteel mishmash of cobbled streets, Tudor buildings and tea rooms. Come nightfall on 5 November; however, the streets erupt in a complex and sometimes frightening parade of painted faces, fireworks in barrels, and near-pagan ceremonial burning crosses and effigies. It’s a fascinating place.
What to do: Bonfire Night in Lewes is highly recommended. In the day, visit Glyndebourne, a country estate and opera house, mooch around Anne of Cleves’ house, and peek at the Round House, a former windmill belonging to Virginia Woolf.
Ashdown Forest dates back to medieval times when it was a deer-hunting forest. Later, it was the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood in A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books. Now it’s part of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is home to deer, birds and grazing animals.
What to do: This is one of the places to visit in Sussex if you’re a Pooh fan. Go to the Pooh Sticks Bridge, Galleon’s Lap, Roo’s Sandpit, and the North Pole. You can also go on a series of walks and even do some horseriding.
With street names like Wish Ward, Mermaid Street, and Watchbell Street, the medieval coastal town of Rye is a little bit dreamy. In the 1100s, Rye was part of the Cinque Ports Federation, defending against attacks from the French, and some of the ancient fortifications still stand.
What to do: Wander through the saltmarsh and shingle beaches of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, and try to bust the ghost of the Mermaid Inn.
The Seven Sisters
These chalk cliffs run between Seaford and Eastbourne. They often act as stand-ins for the white cliffs of Dover in films, as the Dover cliffs are too developed.
What to do: Strap on your hiking books, hoik up your bumbag, and set off across the Sisters for a hike that takes in downland, forest, rock pools, and spectacular sea views. Or just have a cup of tea in the National Trust café and enjoy the sights through a window.
Chanctonbury Ring and Cissbury Ring
Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings are hill forts in the South Downs. Both rings are stunning, a great place for a walk, and slightly spooky.
What to do: Take a picnic (and a dog) and go for a ramble. If you’re trying to get pregnant, sleep under the trees in Chanctonbury Ring for one night. According to old pagan lore, it should help you on your way.
Arlington Bluebell Wood
If you’re a romantic nature, indulge in the simple joy of walking through a greenwood carpeted with bluebells. Arlington Bluebell Wood is one of the great places to visit in Sussex for nature lovers.
What to do:
- Visit the farm shop.
- Learn to weave with willow.
- Work with unseasoned wood (bodging).