East Sussex Overview
- Downlands and shingly shores
- Coast life
- Tea shops and flip-flops
The East Sussex coast has always attracted crowds; in the height of summer, you may have to fight your way onto the beaches, just as the Romans and Normans once did.
Despite its perennial bucket‑and‑spade appeal, the region – which for former resident Rudyard Kipling was ‘beloved over all’ – is also a realm of chalky downlands and tranquil villages, ideal for long walks followed by a congratulatory visit to a cosy country pub. The softness of the landscape is reflected in the quiet cobblestone charm of mediaeval market towns such as Rye, and in the creamy Regency façades and Victorian pleasure pursuits of Brighton. It’s not all chocolate‑box quaintness though; Sussex’s proximity to the capital also gives the county a sharper, cultivated edge. Brighton in particular has a wealth of restaurants, clubs and cultural events worthy of its popularity with weekending urbanites.
Essentially East Sussex
Neighbouring Kent may be top of the hops, but this county produces more than 60 excellent varieties of beer – so you’ll need to be selective. Harveys in Lewes is the oldest brewery in the region, and is still the big local favourite. Try before you buy at its Brewery Shop on Cliffe High Street (www.harveys.org.uk), or do your sampling in one of the area’s plentiful pubs.
- Hail one of Brighton’s fleet of blue-and-white hackney cabs on the street, go to a rank, or ring Streamline Taxis (+44 (0)1273 202020). In smaller towns, it’s minicabs only; in Rye, try Taxi-Time (+44 (0)1797 224016).
- Tipping culture
- 10 or 15 per cent is standard, but many restaurants now add a discretionary 12.5 per cent to the bill, so be careful not to tip twice.
- Packing tips
- Most beaches are pebbly, so if you do like to be beside the seaside, bring some scuffable footwear and something to sit on – unless you want a permanently dimpled bottom.
- Recommended reads
- Enjoy a seedy summer of sin in Graham Greene’s 1930s thriller Brighton Rock; classic historical satire in 1066 and All That by WC Sellar and RJ Yeatman; and descriptions of the Sussex landscape in Rudyard Kipling’s The Five Nations.
- Regional specialities
- The region offers more besides seaside sticks of rock and candyfloss: Rye is celebrated for its seafood, especially its scallops, and pure-bred Romney Marsh mutton is considered a delicacy. Also seek out cured meats and fish from the Weald Smokery; regional honey; and organic sausages from Boathouse Farm – you can pick them all up at Russells (01273 776789), a farm shop and deli in Hove. Sussex also produces some surprisingly good wines, including Loire-style whites from – don’t snigger – Breaky Bottom vineyard (www.breakybottom.co.uk).
- Pound sterling.
- Time zone
- Dialling codes
- Country code for the UK: 44. Brighton: (0)1273; Rye: (0)1797.
- Do go/don't go
- Britain is an unpredictable blighter for weather, so don’t let that dictate when you go. In summer, the coast can get crowded, so go midweek if you want quiet romance.