Sussex Guide - Towns and Villages
The beach at Camber extends for seven miles. It presents the ideal conditions for kite surfing and the steep dunes afford endless opportunities for walking, playing and sunbathing.
The beach is magnificently deep at low tide and is popular with film makers, standing in for the Sahara Desert in “Carry On Follow That Camel” film and, more recently, posing as Northern France for the D-Day landings in the George Clooney thriller "The Monuments Men". Camber was originally a harbour with defensive castle, the ruins of which can be explored. Camber castle is run by Rye Harbour Nature Reserve in conjunction with English Heritage.
From October to April, the beach is perfect for dog walks and horse rides and nature trails and bike rides can be enjoyed just inland. The sandy beach is ideal for a bucket and spade holiday with children during the summer months when dogs are not permitted. The steeply cobbled streets of Rye have a delightfully Bohemian charm, attracting artists, musicians and writers to its annual Rye Festival.
Henry James, E F Benson and Rumer Godden have all lived at Lamb House, now owned by the National Trust and open to the public on occasional afternoons. Rye is famed for its fresh fish, especially scallops which can be enjoyed in many of the pubs and restaurants in the town. There are also many tea shops serving delicious Sussex Cream Teas.
The Nature Reserve at Rye Harbour provides a perfect habitat for a huge variety of birds, plants and insects. At Pett Level the remains of an ancient submerged forest can be glimpsed at low tide. The shingle beach is quiet and great for children and dogs. There is abundant birdlife to enjoy and opportunities for shrimping at low tide.
From Fairlight to Hastings there are wonderful walks through the County Park, known locally as Firehills, with amazing views across to France and down the coast to Beachy Head and paths down to the beach.
The poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti lived in Hastings, where he described the sunrise as “the most beautiful of earthly sights”.
Hastings has Europe’s largest beach-launched fishing fleet, the stretch of shingle from which it is launched is known as The Stade (Anglo Saxon for ‘the landing place’).
Elegant Victorian town houses form the nucleus of St Leonards which was designed by John and Decimus Burton as a fashionable seaside resort in the 19th Century and quickly became popular with aristocracy and royalty.
Queen Victoria presides over Warrior Square, a rose filled garden, facing the sea and the wide promenade that connects St Leonards to Hastings.
Brighton is surely the most exciting City on the South Coast with loads of historic attractions, including the fanciful Royal Pavilion and a Victorian Aquarium, and many inspiring cultural events. The lively Marina and the fun filled pier provide hours of family entertainment while the nearby countryside provides endless opportunuties for hang gliding, kite flying and walking in the glorious South Downs
Mayfield is a very picturesque town set in a beautiful landscape. There are many legends associated with Mayfield, St Dunstan’s and the Devil and these are relived in annual celebrations with noisy processions of blacksmiths with firebrands threatening to burn down the ancient timbered houses. Notable amongst these is The Middle House, a splendid medieval hostelry still serving excellent beer and locally sourced food.
Danehill is a village on the edge of the splendid Ashdown Forest, home to The Hundred Acre Wood of Winnie the Pooh fame, and is close to Sheffield Park a National Trust property that boasts wonderful autumnal colours as well as the terminus for the nostalgic Bluebell Line that steams through the Sussex countryside to Horsted Keynes.
The variety of local wildlife is summed up in the name, Herons Ghyll, a ghyll being a steep wooded ravine and heron referring to the varieties of birdlife that frequent the region. There are many rare ferns and other plants as well as a host of insect and wildlife making it the ideal destination for walkers and birdwatchers.
Piltdown is a small village on the Southern edge of Ashdown Forest. The local pub recalls the village’s most famous resident, Piltdown Man. Discovered in 1912 and reputed to be the ‘missing link’ in the evolutionary chain he was later exposed to be a hoax in 1953. The perpetrator was never identified but nearby local resident, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of the suspects.