Out & About: Sussex & Hampshire

3 delightful destinations and the best things to do whilst you're there

Three fabulous areas and inspiring ideas on what to see and do whilst you're there, this guide to Sussex and Hampshire explores the lush Wealden countryside, the glorious South Downs landscape and the serene Test Valley in Hampshire. From artisan distilleries, farm shops and heritage treasures, to scenic trails, wildlife hotspots and country activities, there's something everyone will enjoy.

 

1. TICEHURST, EAST SUSSEX

Just off the A21 between Sevenoaks and Hastings, Ticehurst is located on the Kent/East Sussex border on the edge of the beautiful High Weald landscape - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Best things to do while you're there: Glorious gardens and stately houses or castles abound on the Kent/Sussex border, so take your pick from the intimate Pashley Manor Gardens, just along the road from The Bell, Vita Sackville West's magnificent garden at Sissinghurst, Scotney Castle Gardens at Lamberhurst, impressive Bodiam Castle in the Rother Valley, and Bateman's, the National Trust home of writer Rudyard Kipling at Burwash. Foodies can take home-smoked salmon from Weald Smokery, Sussex, reared meats from Eridge Farm Shop, and local fizz following a tour of Chapel Down Vineyard. Work up an appetite with a walk around Bewl Water or on a glorious walk through the Ashdown Forest to find Pooh Sticks Bridge (Winnie the Pooh). Walk the South Downs Way from Beachy Head to Cuckmere Haven, or let the dog run wild on Camber Sands following an amble around pretty Rye - climb the church tower for fabulous views across Romney Marsh.

Where to stay: A cracking community pub and dining destination, The Bell Inn is a fabulous and offbeat place to stay. Expect to be wowed by the eclectic décor, the quirky bedrooms and the hearty seasonal food at this 16th-century bolthole in a thriving Sussex village. Book one of the fabulous lodge rooms set in a flower-festooned garden and enjoy a bottle of fizz beside the firepit. View inn >

 

2. SIDLESHAM, WEST SUSSEX

South of the A27 at Chichester, sleepy Sidlesham is set beside picturesque Pagham Harbour, just a short drive from the glorious sandy beach at West Wittering.

Best things to do while you're there: The long, marshy arms of Chichester Harbour are haven to a wealth of wildlife (birds and seals) and best seen on boat tour from the quay at Itchenor. Explore shoreline footpaths from the pretty waterside villages of Bosham, Birdham and Chidham for peaceful watery views. A stroll through Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve (RSPB) is a must for bird-lovers. Head for the South Downs for exhilarating breezy walks along the South Downs Way (Harting Down, The Trundle at Goodwood), or stroll the historic streets in Chichester, visiting the glorious Norman Cathedral and the notable Pallant House Gallery, allowing time for lunch at Purchases Bar & Restaurant. For history buffs, there are Roman villas at Fishbourne and Bignor, a magnificent castle at Arundel and stately National Trust piles include Petworth House (Turner paintings) and Uppark, a fine, Queen Anne mansion overlooking the South Downs.

Where to stay: A stone's throw from harbour and nature reserve footpaths, the Crab & Lobster has resided here for some 350 years and certainly looks every part the historic seaside hideaway. It draws a discerning crowd for fabulous seafood, luxurious rooms and pretty Crab Cottage, the perfect family bolthole next door. Stay over and savour serene views across marsh and sea from this tucked-away treasure. View inn >

 

3. STOCKBRIDGE, HAMPSHIRE

Stockbridge straddles the beautiful Test Valley between the stunning cathedral cities of Winchester and Salisbury. Located on the A30 it is easily reached from the M3/A34 and M27.

Best things to do while you're there: Take a stroll along Stockbridge's handsome High Street and you'll immediately spot a wide variety of individual, independent retailers - from art galleries and boutiques to specialist foodie places like Thyme & Tides, a deli fishmonger and café all rolled into one, and Utopia Wine who supply the Greyhound. Just up the road on the Leckford Estate is Waitrose's excellent farm shop-cum-food store. The heady scent of roses in the famous walled garden at Mottisfont in June is a must for garden-lovers, as is the lush riverside garden at Houghton Lodge in summer. Walkers can explore the Test Way, an old railway route through the valley, or follow peaceful tracks up to breezy Danebury Hill for far-reaching views across Hampshire and into Wiltshire. You can go fly-fishing on the Test and shoot (game & clays) locally too.

Where to stay: As its name suggests, The Greyhound on the Test has a gorgeous garden backing onto the River Test in the heart of Stockbridge, England's fly-fishing capital. The 15th-century building has been beautifully revamped with plenty of passion and panache, offering innovative food (dine in the riverside tipi or dining domes), stylish rooms and fishing rights on a half-mile stretch of the river. View inn >

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