Walking in Sussex
Have you discovered Alfriston, a beautiful downland village nestling in a fold in the Sussex Downs? It’s a wonderful base for a walking holiday as well as a charming place to stay with its narrow streets, quaint historical buildings and fascinating shops. For hotel accommodation we recommend 14th-century Dean’s Place Country Hotel. It is idyllically situated in the heart of the village, is one of the ‘Best Loved’ hotels of the world, also recommended by Johansens and awarded an AA rosette for cuisine. Or, if you like to stay in a ‘b&b’, we can highly recommend Dacres run by Patsy Embry. At Patsy’s you will receive the warmest of welcomes. And if you prefer to do your own catering, there is a fully-equipped kitchen.
We have walked in many different parts of the world but whenever we walk in the countryside surrounding Alfriston we invariably conclude that nothing can beat it. The walking is superb whether you are tackling the ‘Seven Sisters’ along one of Britain’s most beautiful stretches of heritage coast or opting for a gentle walk around the beautiful Cuckmere Valley. The South Downs Way will take you in one direction to Jevington with its lovely old Saxon church and our favourite pub, the Eight Bells. In the opposite direction you can walk to Firle Beacon or to Charleston Farmhouse, the country home of the Bloomsbury Group. The nearby Rose Cottage at Alciston is another old English inn well worth a visit. The possibilities for walking are too numerous to list as there are routes in all directions.
There are endless things to do and places to visit within easy reach of Alfriston. In the village itself is the 14th century Clergy House, the first ever property to be bought by the National Trust for the princely sum of £10. There is Tudor Firle Place, home of the Gage family for 500 years: a good choice if you enjoy looking at works of art. We always enjoy visiting Seaford Head Country Park at nearby Exceat. From here you can walk along the River Cuckmere to the sea at Cuckmere Haven at the foot of the cliffs, the only unspoilt estuary in south-east England. And you simply must have a morning coffee or cream tea in the old farmhouse. And on the topic of cream tea, nearby Wilmington Tea Gardens is famous throughout Sussex. I will say no more except that you will have no difficulty in finding some of the best routes in the UK to walk it off!
Alfriston can be easily reached by rail from London Victoria to Polegate or Berwick. Then it is a short bus or taxi journey to Alfriston. During the summer months at weekends there is the Cuckmere Ramblers Bus which will take you to some of the villages; it also meets the London train at Berwick Station. This links to the very handy coastal bus service which allows you to walk in either direction from Exceat, towards Eastbourne or towards Brighton.
For a guided walking weekend in October 2012, staying at Deans Place Hotel, see www.country-walks.com.