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Introducing East Sussex

East Sussex is a richly varied county that absorbs armies of weekending Londoners whenever the weather is fine. Some come for the scintillating nightlife and shingly shores of Brighton, others to explore the white cliffs and civilised seaside charms of Eastbourne. Many more opt for romance amid the medieval streets of Rye or historic Battle, where William the Conqueror first engaged the Saxons in 1066. But you needn’t chase the Chelsea tractors to enjoy East Sussex. It’s just as rewarding to get off the beaten track and explore its lush countryside, linger along its winding country lanes and stretch your legs across the rolling South Downs.

Rye

Seemingly pickled, put on a shelf and promptly forgotten about by old Father Time, Rye is one of England’s most beautiful medieval villages. You can’t help but fall under its spell as you slip and wobble through the cobbled lanes, past mysterious passageways and crooked timber-beamed buildings. Romantics can lap up the townsfolk’s tales of resident smugglers, ghosts, writers and artists, and even the most hardened cynic will be seduced by a slew of exquisite accommodations in its heart.

Once a coastal Cinque Port but long since abandoned by the shifting coastline, the town sits prettily atop a rocky outcrop, and sheep graze where the waters once lapped. If you do visit – and you absolutely should – try to avoid summer weekends when hoards of day-trippers dilute the town’s time-warp effect.