Castles, Roman ruins, stately homes and flint-fronted pubs make Sussex impressively historic as well as beautiful. Throw in traditional outdoor pursuits and a penchant for creating top-quality booze (Sussex is a proud producer of sparkling wine, local ale and handcrafted gin) and you’ve got the epitome of Englishness. So wrap up in your cosiest cashmere, pull on a pair of boots and head out for a brisk exploration of Sussex.
Tucked away in sleepy Sidlesham, The Crab & Lobster is a cosy waterside pub that has a clutch of charming rooms so you can flop after your feast. Sample the local Selsey crab that’s served with tiger prawns and black caviar, and save room for a decadent dessert. Further inland, you can’t get a more traditional country pub than the 400-year-old The Fox Goes Free in Charlton, with its view of the South Downs from the garden. Gorge on hearty portions of classic British pub grub and a local Sussex ale, as you sit by a crackling fire.
Given its position on the south coast of England, it’s hardly surprising that seafood is a menu staple in Sussex. Feast on platters of scallops, crab and oysters at one of Brighton’s top seafood restaurants, The Salt Room – a great one to know about if you’re staying nearby at the Artist Residence or Brighton Harbour Hotel. If fruits de mer isn’t your bag, fear not: the steak at Saltroom is amazing, too. To satiate a sugar lust, Sugardough on Market Street has you covered. Caffeine fiends should head to The Marwood for, arguably, the best coffee in in town as well as the most eclectic and artsy Brighton-esque décor. Although, Small Batch Coffee is a fierce contender for the crown and has a handful of outposts across the city.
There’s little the locals like more than a good antique (except maybe a pub). Join them in perusing the vintage goods in historic towns like Arundel (with its fairytale castle) and Petworth (with its majestic stately home). For shopping circa 2017, check out The Lanes in Brighton, which is a maze of streets with independent jewellers, quirky interiors shops and artisan chocolatiers (don’t miss Choccywoccydoodah). There’s also Lavender Room, which stocks homewares, lacy lingerie, trinkets and candles. There’s a good smattering of decent art galleries to peruse in Brighton, too.
Don your wellies and take a walk along the magnificent West Wittering Beach. You’ll get views of kite surfers as well as a distant glimpse of Spinnaker Tower in neighbouring Hampshire. History buffs will go gaga over Sussex’s inland walking adventures, including the famous Kingley Vale Trail that’s reputed to have the oldest trees in Britain. Those staying at the east end of Sussex at The George in Rye or The Gallivant are spoiled for historic walks, too. The 30-mile 1066 Walk starts at Rye and goes through Battle before ending up at Pevensey Castle. Or, if you have a week to spare (sounds reasonable), walk the High Weald Landscape Trail all the way from Rye to Horsham, visiting some of the county’s best historic gardens en route.
The south of England is earning props for its stellar fizz, including producers such as Bolney and Nyetimber. October heralds the harvest season at Tinwood Vineyard, just outside the pretty cathedral city of Chichester. Join in the plucking of juicy Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes from their vines during special harvesting tours. Your hard work is rewarded with copious sampling in the tasting room or atop the elevated deck that overlooks the vineyard.
If you’re out and about in Sussex in the autumn, you may arrive too late to catch a polo match at Cowdray Park or to savour the elegant fashion and horseracing at Glorious Goodwood. However, sporty types should head to the Goodwood Estate, Sussex’s ultimate playground. Learn to fly at the Aerodrome, or spike your adrenaline in a Top Gun mission where you’ll experience exhilarating close-formation flying, fighter-pilot style. Elsewhere on the estate you can race performance BMWs around the track at the Motor Circuit or have a round of golf on the beautiful Championship Park Course. Finish your day with dinner at Farmer, Butcher, Chef, where the ingredients are sourced from Goodwood’s own Home Farm.