A walk at Cuckmere, a dip in the river, a spot of kayaking, some cake and the perfect pub.......
This month's 'Where To', takes us to the rolling hills of East Sussex. I visit this part of the world quite a bit, as my parents moved to Eastbourne a few years back. It really doesn’t take long to get there from across the border in West Sussex, plus you don’t have to use the M25, so for me its a win win... As always, the day out is children and dog friendly. And of course includes a couple of lovely pubs along the way too...
The day starts at Cuckmere Haven, where the river Cuckmere meets the English Channel between Eastbourne and Seaford, which is a lovely waterway with channels and paths running through it. Like any of these trips, for me, you have to start early to get the most out of them. The walk at Cuckmere, is a popular tourist attraction, so if you don't find a parking space at the main car park, you can always park at either the Vintage Inn (a few minutes drive away) or in the Forest car park opposite. (I have put the post code here for you - East Dean Road, BN26 5TT). Although really popular, I have never found it too busy (unless possibly you choose the hottest Bank Holiday or the year, that may be the one to avoid).
We started our day with a spot of Kayaking via the brilliant Buzz Active Team. Here you can hire some Kayaks by the hour for approx £12, either single kayaks or double. If you also fancy a sport of paddle boarding, that is also an option. We didn't book, plus there were no long forms to complete, just a common sense approach to Health & Safety. So, within 20 minutes, Samuel and Erin were in their kayaks making their way up or down the river. The waters at Cuckmere, even though they are tidal, are calm and perfect for those wanting to try out Kayaking. Along the river bank, you can set up a little picnic while the kids safely dip in an out of the water (as murky as it is). Buzz Active can also organise guided nature walks and fire lighting sessions as part of your visit.
Once we finished the kayaking we begun the walk, which takes you to the beach, next to the famous chalk cliffs, the Seven Sisters. It is an easy walk for all, you can either walk straight to the beach and back again, or follow the route around to the right, at the end of the beach and end up at the Vintage Inn and follow the main road back to the car park.
Another walk you can do, is one on the opposite side to the river which takes you into the teeny village of West Dean (not the one in West Sussex), situated in the Friston Forest, which I would highly recommend. You start from the visitors centre and work your way through the forest, winding through the most gorgeous village with chocolate box cottages. It is said that the village was founded in Saxon times as a fishing and salt producing village hidden away from the weather by the valleys. It is known that Alfred the Great had a palace in the village, and it is possible that this was one of his naval main bases, in his war with the Vikings.
Exhausted by all the history, finish off at the gorgeous tea rooms, close to the visitors centre, for a spot of tea and cake in the walled courtyard garden.
Depending on how much food you have consumed at this point will depend on the next stop. I would suggest the gorgeous village of Alfriston, voted by Telegraph as one England’s most beautiful villages in the UK. You can enjoy a meander around the village, stopping at any one of the pubs, The George Inn is a favourite of mine. You could spend a couple of hours in the village, no problem.
If you wanted a pub stop a little further along the way, carry on to the village of Firle, where you will find the gorgeous Ram Inn. It has a sweet pub garden, with swings, a play house for the kids and some of the best pub grub you are likely to find. That's pretty much it for this day out. If you choose to go on a day with brilliant weather, you really can spend the whole day in what is quite a small area of beauty.
If you wanted to extend the trip, there is lots of extra stuff you can do. You could replace, this with Alfriston or the walk in the Forest. It’s a short drive away (or long walk, if you are feeling adventurous), I have detailed a couple of great walks, plus eatery we always visit when we there.
If you are keen walkers, I have also detailed a link to walk you can do between Birling Gap and Cuckmere, via National Trusts. You can easily take the car and drive to Birling gap and spend some time there. One of my favourite pubs, we always visit when we land at mums is The Tiger Inn, I have also detailed a link which is a walk from Birling Gap to the Tiger Inn, again a short drive away from Cuckmere.