Why limit to the south east coast.. My wife and I have recently re located to the Wirral from Hamble near Southampton Hampshire and could not be happier, It has good employment, genuine friendly honest people, great night life and bars, Liverpool which is the nearest major city is 2nd to none for a night out anywhere in the country with its theatres restaurants comedy clubs and concert venues in my humble opinion, Chester to the south of us offers an alternative lets say posher experience, with its Horse racing, chique shopping, and Bars. We are surrounded by coastline on 3 sides with open miles of safe clean beaches... The transport links are good with Mersey rail but not as frequent as a London Tube system ... with our micro climate we enjoy similar weather to the south coast. The roads are no where near as busy and getting away at weekends is easy to North Wales and The Lake district... It is a no brainer for us to relocate due to our work and have fallen in love with the area we are in our mid to late 30s and the thought of re locating to the south coast with over populated busy roads and expensive living fills us with dread.
Alfriston is a typically Sussex village set in the delightful Cuckmere Valley between Eastbourne and Seaford. It comes complete with an attractive church and village green (The Tye), old fashioned tea shops, a wealth of interesting bookshops and antique shops, picturesque cottages and a healthy dose of sleepy village feeling.
It's a small place and so will only be a day trip from one of the nearby towns, but is well worth it in the summer when the weather is good.
Alfriston is also home to the first property purchased by the National Trust, the Alfriston Clergy House , which despite it's name doesn't have much to do with the clergy at all. It's a pretty little thatched Wealden Hall House which is a style that was typical of this part of England in centuries past. There are very few of these left now and this one dates from the 14th century.
Nearby is Drusillas Zoo which is a small animal zoo which will appeal to families with children.
Public transport to Alfriston is not the greatest but it does exist. Berwick train station is not far away and the Cuckmere Valley Community Bus serves the village.
Drusillas is a "small animal zoo" near Eastbourne and Alfriston in East Sussex. This means that it doesn;t have lions, elephants and giraffes but does have a wide variety of other smaller and equally exotic animals.
Clearly as a zoo it's going to be aimed primarily at families with children, but adults can still enjoy themselves here too as the animals are really so very charming. My favourites were the lemurs and you can actually go in and walk around their enclosure with them.
Most people will come by car but you could combine a trip here with a nice walk across the fields from Berwick train station if it's a fine summer day.
Do be warned though that this is not a cheap day out and if you go on a weekend during the height of summer it will be very busy and noisy.
Rye is a pretty and quaint little town in the Marshes along the Kent/Sussex Border. It was one of the ancient Cinque Ports which were vital to the economic success of medieval England. It has also been a hot bed of smuggling in the past. The centre of this small town is located on a hill and is filled with narrow streets lined with olde worlde buildings and still has a number of distinctive local buisnesses with local flavour such as local bakers etc.
It's well worth a visit.
Rye has a number of attractions in the town and all are within a short walk from the train station, the walk up the hill is quite steep however. The town used to be surrounded by walls and had 4 gates. Now only one - Landgate - survives. There are other remnants of the fortifications such as the Ypres Tower. The town also has a number of pleasant churches, including St Marys and St Anthony of Padua and museums and some excellent views out accross the surrounding low laying countryside, not to mention a lively riverside along Strand Quay.
Eastbourne's Pier is one of it's most memorable images and has been used as a film set on a number of occasions in recent years - most recently in the film "Made in Dagenham" when it 'played the part' of Brighton Pier becuase Eastbourne Pier looks more like what an English seaside town pier should look like in it's heyday.
It is much better maintained (and cleaner) than many other piers are now around the English coastal resorts and has all the traditional English seaside things on it - fish and chips, Victorian tea rooms, souvenir shops, amusement arcades and of course (and most importantly) the wonderful views both out to sea and back across Eastbourne's elegant Edwardian seafront.
I like to visit the pier on a Sunday afternoon, get a portion of chips covered in salt and vinegar, and then go to the end of the pier and eat them whilst taking in the view and watching the people go by.
Camber castle is an old Tudor artillery fort located outside Rye in the fields of the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. It's a property owned by English Heritage but has fairly limited opening hours and these do change so see the english heritage website for details before going.
You can't get here by car. You also can't get here by public transport. You just have to walk across the fields. I have found that it is nice to walk across the Rye Harbour nature reserve from Rye train station on a fine summer day. East Sussex county council have a suggested walk on their website
The castle when open is staffed by volunteers of the nature reserve and when I have visited the gentleman on duty has offered guided tours of the castle. These are worth doing. Without this you might leave just thinking that you've seen a pile of rubble and old crumbling walls. The guided tour brings the history of the place to life and you get to see things that you would otherwise probably miss - such as the Tudor graffiti mocking Henry VIII.
This is not the sort of attraction we would normally visit, as it’s firmly aimed at children and families, and we don’t usually travel with kids. But on this occasion we were on a day out with visiting friends, including their 10 year old son who is mad about farming and intends to be a farmer in his home country of Austria, so when I spotted that there was an activity farm in the area it seemed a natural choice. And I have to say that we were impressed by how much there was to do and see here.
The main focus of interest is probably naturally the animals. There are lots of them and most can be petted and fed. We loved the baby piglets of varying breeds (though their parents were decidedly on the smelly side!). Chris was very taken with the ferrets, Michael loved feeding the sheep and I enjoyed seeing llamas. In one corner we saw a couple of foxes in a large pen. At first I questioned why they would have undomesticated animals kept in that way, but we discovered that these two had been rescued from car accidents and could not be rehabilitated into the wild. It was certainly a great photo opportunity (see photo 5). I was pleased to see lots of hand-wash stations dotted around, so after petting you can clean your hands which is very important.
Meanwhile our adult friends were interested in the old farm machinery, and an ancient VW van brought back some happy memories. And when you tire of farm-related activity, there’s plenty more – for the younger members of the party at least (and the young at heart!) A large play area provides lots of opportunities for children of various ages to run off steam – there’s a mini assault course, ball games, mini go-karts, and Michael’s favourite, a huge bouncy area. You can see him somersaulting on it in photo 4 – I was so happy to have caught him at just this moment as it makes a great shot!
While the kids are playing there are lots of spots for the adults to relax and still keep half an eye on them. It seemed to be a popular day out – people would set up at one of the tables with picnic fare or supplies from the on-site café and let the kids run riot! They will even host a birthday party for your children. One thing that impressed me was because we arrived just after 3.00 pm and wouldn’t obviously be staying as long as many people do, we were only charged half-price admission – a nice gesture and one we hadn’t expected.
Usual admission prices (summer 2011) are adult £6.50, child £5.50, senior £4.50. Children aged 1 and under are free, and there are several discounts for family groups and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in term time. You pay extra for pony rides (£2) and for a small tub of food – choose between that for small or for large animals.
One of the loveliest spots from which to view southern England’s classic chalk cliff scenery is here at Seven Sisters. They take their name, logically, from their number, and the line of seven white cliffs, especially when gleaming in the summer sun, is truly quite striking – and very photogenic.
These views are only accessible on foot, although you can get fairly close by car. There are two main options available. The first is to park near the Visitor Centre on the A259 (for which there is a charge) and follow the lovely Cuckmere Valley to the beach below the cliffs. From here you’ll need to climb the hill to your right if you want to get the classic view in my main photo. Alternatively you can drive via Seaford to Seaford Head, where a free car park gives you access to several walking trails across the cliffs. One of these (to your left as you arrive in the car park) leads to the same hill-top view, from where you can descend to the beach for a closer look. You can also get a bus from Eastbourne, Seaford or Brighton to the park entrance and follow the same Cuckmere River walk.
Once there you can of course enjoy the views, but it’s also worth taking a closer look at your immediate surroundings. Wild flowers abound on these chalky cliffs (but please don’t pick them), there are shells and pebbles to pick over on the beach, rock-pools to explore for shrimp and other small sea creatures, and sea-birds galore. It’s a great place for a picnic, but if you prefer a pub lunch I can recommend the Golden Galleon on the main road near the Visitor Centre
These Gardens are absolutely beautiful, one of the very few places that I have missed since homing George as they don't allow dogs in the gardens. Understandable but disappointing especially for a responsible owner who always clears up after his dog. Anyway back to the gardens, designed by 'Capability' Brown, owned by the National Trust these wonderful landscaped gardens include four large lakes, waterfalls and cascades. Spring is very colourful here with good shows of bluebells and daffodils while early summer offers rhododendrons and azaleas in abundance, even winter gives stunning views with everything covered in frost and ice but without a doubt the best time to visit is autumn, the stunning sight of warm autumnal colours against clear blue skies is nothing short of Spectacular.
This man made lake/reservoir at Bewl is a wonderful area for families, cyclists, hikers birdwatchers and boaters and anglers. With its 13 mile circumference it is best to make an early start if you want to walk the entire perimeter. Some of the areas are quite rocky, and muddy so be prepared. The lake is deep (there are houses submerged here!!!) and dangerous so swimming is not permitted - and it is especially tempting to take a dip on a hot summer's day but strictly forbidden. There is also an hourly boat cruise for £4.50 per adult for a 40 minute cruise around the lake.
Bring a picnic and find a quiet grassy spot. The children will love the adventure playground and there are miles and miles of safe areas for them to cycle (with parental supervision of course - due to the proximity of the water)
It costs £5 for the car park and there is a cafe, information centre, shop all with disabled access. It is possible to hire bikes here but it's closed on Bank Holidays. More information can be found at the Southern Water website.
Rye is well worth a visit if you are in East Sussex - it is on route to Dover and hence receives a LOT of visitors from the Continent. It is full of historic pubs, restaurants, a quaint high street and lovely walks. There is also an excellent town museum house in the Ypres Tower.
In 1916 Vanessa Bell, sister of Virginia Woolfe, bought the 18th century Charleston Farmhouse in Firle, East Sussex. Conditions were very basic but nevertheless, over the years it became a retreat for the Bloomsbury set, a group of artists and writers and conscientious objectors to the First World war. These included Duncan Grant (Vanessa's lover and father of her daughter Angelica) and David Garnett who had come to do farm work and as such made them exempt from conscription.
I love this house and have visited several times. The gardens are beautiful and there is a video presentation and tea room which have disabled access. The ground floor is also fully accessible for disabled visitors, and there are designated parking bays for disabled vehicles. There is a gorgeous gift shop/gallery here too, selling paintings, fabulous clothes, jewellery, ceramics etc etc - but be warned - it is the work of local artists and craftspeople and it is of a VERY high standard and it is expensive. This ISN'T a tacky tourist shop.
There is also a working farm on this site so please take care - the approach road is VERY narrow and farm vehicles use it - be prepared to reverse back into a passing space!
Open from 23rd March - 30th Oct 2005 from 2pm-6pm Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun and Bank Holiday Mon.
To be honest I am not sure it is suitable for very young children. There really isn't anything specifically for children to do here.
England may not be well-known as a wine-producing country but for some years now pioneers have been establishing vineyards in the southern counties and trying to change that image. At first their attempts were laughed at and their wines dismissed as sub-standard, but increasingly both the casual drinker and the wine connoisseur have come to take their efforts and their results much more seriously. Indeed some of the wines produced here have won awards in international wine competitions.
This site was first planted as a vineyard in 1971 and consists of 37 acres of land which slope gently towards the southeast, creating the perfect micro-climate in which to grow grapes. The owners claim to produce “a truly English style of wine which is crisp, aromatic, fresh and fruity.” Certainly we were impressed by those we tasted on a recent visit, especially their driest, Alexis. This is a refreshing, fruity yet dry white which would go really well with seafood and also be lovely to drink on its own on a warm summer evening.
As well as tasting and shopping for wine (and a whole host of wine-related products) you are welcome to follow a trail around the vineyard, where signs along the way give information about the grape varieties grown there and how they are cultivated. All this is on a very small scale compared to in major wine-producing countries but is a novelty here in England.
Larger groups can book an escorted tour of the vineyard by calling the number below – the cost is £6.00 per person if the group is of 15 or more, or a flat £68 for smaller groups.
In the heart of Hasting’s Old Town a small church (formerly the Fisherman’s Church) has been converted to a museum which tells the story of the local fishing industry through the ages. The centre piece is the Enterprise: one of the last of the luggers (sailing fishing boats) which dominates the main room. Children in particular love to climb up on to its deck and imagine themselves out at sea, but it’s an interesting experience for anyone who wants to get just a small sense of the lives of the hardy fishermen who once sailed her and others like her.
Around the walls are numerous old photos of some of these men, with descriptions that each evoke a small piece of history – when they fished here, what their boat was called, how they died (some of them sadly but inevitably in accidents at sea), nicknames and family etc. Other exhibits include models of different types of boat, and a variety of nets, ropes and other artefacts. In one corner display cases hold examples of the marine life these men would have encountered as well as some that they most likely would not – the giant albatross’s huge wingspan is fascinating but the likelihood of one ever having been spotted off the Sussex coast very small.
A side room has yet more photos – I particularly liked the “before and after” ones of Rock-a-Nore (the name of this area of the town) which showed that in fact relatively little had changed over the two generations that separated the photographers.
Admission to the museum is by donation and the Fishermen's Protection Society and the Old Hastings Preservation Society rely on these for its upkeep so please give what you can.
Perfect example of a late medieval moated castle, Bodiam was built in 1385 as both a defence and a comfortable home.
Opening times: peak time of the year - 14 Feb-31 Oct 10.30-6pm Mon to Sun
off peak - 1 Nov-20 Dec 10.30-4pm Wed to Sun
2 Jan-31 Jan 2010 10.30-4pm Sat and Sun only
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