The top five outdoor places to explore in Sussex this autumn

Places to Go

The top five outdoor places to explore in Sussex this autumn

Spending time in the great outdoors has never been more important for our wellbeing and Sussex offers peace and tranquillity in abundance. Autumn brings vibrant ever-changing colours and carpets of swirling leaves to ramble through. As the colder weather blows in from the north pack your woolly hat, mittens and boots, head outside and let the adventures begin.

1. Ardingly Reservoir

Great for wildlife spotting.

Ardingly Reservioir, SussexFor peaceful walks, nature spotting and bird watching, Ardingly Reservoir fits the bill perfectly. The autumnal colours here are reminiscent of New England and stunning at this time of year. Situated just three miles north of Haywards Heath, you’ll find a large pay and display car park and plenty of signage to show you the way. The path meanders along the eastern side of the water and has views from just about every aspect. Follow the sign to the Kingfisher bird hide and watch the wildlife on the water. A handy notice board tells you what to look out for. Back on the footpath there are lots of places to stop and sit, take in the view and relax. The route is just under two miles long and fairly flat so suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Water sports including fishing, sailing and kayaking are on offer at Ardingly Activity Centre next to the car park but places are currently limited due to the current covid19 situation. Reviews mention a café but this isn’t currently available. So, take the dog, take a picnic or just take yourself, it’s a lovely place to sit and relax.


2. Pevensey Bay Beach

Perfect for storm watching.

Pevensey Bay Beach, SussexPrepare to blow the cobwebs away on this five mile stretch of quiet unspoilt shingle beach which is situated north east of Eastbourne. Fill your lungs with sea air and take in panoramic views over the English Channel. The beach tends to be relatively quiet year-round and autumn is a great time to visit, when the waves crash over the breakers. Make a day of it, visit Pevensey Castle close by and Pevensey Levels Nature Reserve. Dogs on a lead are allowed on the reserve but can run free on the beach at any time of year. Parking is available close to the beach in a large pay and display car park and there are several free places available in the area.


3. Alfriston

A picture perfect village. 

Alfriston, SussexSituated in the heart of Wealden South Downs and voted one of “England’s 27 most beautiful villages”, a visit here is a must. Park in the large pay and display on the outskirts of the village and then choose to either wander around the quaint streets, boutique shops, galleries and cafes or avoid the crowds and head along the footpath either north or south along the picturesque river Cuckmere or east or west up to the Downs. Either way the views are a delight and there to enjoy whatever the weather. Alternatively take a walk around St Andrew’s church which stands majestically in the centre of the village, or see the clergy house, the first ever National Trust property. Current restrictions mean the house is closed but you can see it from the river-bank and this gives a hint of the character and history within. 


4. Ashdown Forest

Fun forest exploration.

Ashdown Forest, SussexBest known as the home of Winnie-the-Pooh, Ashdown Forest is the largest area of open access land in the south east of England and covers 6500 acres. As a site of Special Scientific Interest and situated in the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty, the area is truly diverse with vast swathes of ancient woodland, rolling hills covered in bracken and heather ladened heathland. Stop in any one of the fifty free car parks and step foot into a land of peace and tranquillity. Sheep and cattle graze freely and share space happily with the abundant wildlife. Afterwards call into Greenfingers Café at the Ashdown Forest Garden Centre and treat yourself to a post walk hot chocolate, the perfect end to an autumn day out.

The visitor centre is currently closed but take a look at the website of our friends at Ashdown Forest Tourism Association where you’ll find lots of information about the area and suggestions of places to visit.


5. Firle Beacon

Great for stunning views.

The Long Man, Sussex

One of over 2000 Marilyn’s (hills over 200 metres in height) Firle Beacon can either be reached by steep road or a five mile hike from Firle village. It’s well worth the effort whichever way you travel for the far-reaching views over the English Channel and surrounding South Downs. During autumn the colours are enchanting. The pretty village of Firle sits at the bottom of the hill, the perfect opportunity for a well deserved break. Whilst you are in the area make time to visit the Long Man of Wilmington. Use the car park south of Wilmington Priory (not open to the public), the views are excellent close by.


Everyone needs some time away, especially in these strange times. Self-catering cottages offer the ideal solution. You can stay for a short break or a week-long holiday safe in the knowledge you have your very own hideaway and can choose where to go and what to see. Classic Cottages have a range of holiday cottages in Sussex and Kent, ideally located for some peaceful time away.

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