13 Breathtaking Places To Visit In Sussex
Yea, Sussex by the sea!
1. Devil's Dyke
According to legend, this 300-foot valley is the result of 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).
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.
2. Bluebell Railway
3. Ditchling Beacon
At 813 feet above sea level, this is the highest point in East Sussex, and commands views out to sea and across the South Downs and the Sussex Weald. 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 ice cream from the van that seems to have been on site every day for the past 50 years.
Thanks to it being within easy reach of London by train, the faded Regency seaside glamour of Brighton is a real pull for tourists. Avoid the weekend crush and wander round on a weekday, allowing yourself time and space to take in the shabby-chic sights.
6. 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. Just don't look down if heights aren't really your thing.
What to do: Have a coffee on colourful George Street, visit the Shipwreck Museum, and take in the sights of the Old Town.
7. The Long Man of Wilmington, Polegate
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 have a peek at the Round House, a former windmill that used to belong to Virginia Woolf.
9. Ashdown Forest
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.
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.
11. Chanctonbury Ring and Cissbury Ring
Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings are hill forts in the South Downs. Iron Age and Bronze Age artefacts have been found in both areas. Both rings are very pretty, a great place for a walk – and very slightly spooky. Legend has it that the devil will appear to you in Chanctonbury Ring if you run around the trees seven times anti-clockwise. When he appears, he will offer you a bowl of soup for your soul.
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.