If recent months have taught us anything, it’s to cherish experiences and appreciate what we have. In fact, lately we’ve been rediscovering the landscape around us and have been inspired to help you do the same!
A day trip to West Sussex provides the perfect opportunity to get off the beaten track, put your phone away (although we wouldn’t blame you for a sneaky Instagram snap), connect with nature and discover some truly breath-taking sights.
From quiet bays and secluded beaches to stunning heritage locations and local wildlife reserves, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the spots that you simply cannot miss.
If crowded beaches aren’t really your thing, head to one of West Sussex’s lesser known but equally charming waterside locations. Starting at the secluded Prinsted waterfront, you can embark on a walk that follows the shoreline around Thorney Island and through almost untouched land that is protected by the Ministry of Defence, encompassing marina and harbour views, sandy dunes and areas of local wildlife.
Whilst not a stereotypical leisure beach, the shores and scenery of Shoreham-by-Sea are truly spectacular. Walking along the shingle banks of the River Adur makes for the perfect dog walk or sunset stroll, with impressive views of the Lancing College Chapel and its Gothic-Revival architecture to the north west, Shoreham’s ancient toll bridge crossing the river and Shoreham Fort at the mouth of the harbour.
Another quieter alternative to some of the county’s busiest beaches, West Beach provides a laid-back option with both sand and stone shores and calming views out to the Isle of Wight. It makes the ideal spot for a leisurely dog walk or a picnic on warmer days. Plus, for history fans, there are plenty of opportunities for fossil hunting along the shore and an old fort to be explored.
The Balcombe (or Ouse Valley) Viaduct meanders through a valley across both West and East Sussex, carrying the rail line down to Brighton. Built over 150 years ago, the structure casts a striking silhouette against the West Sussex countryside and makes for impressive viewing all year round.
A round-up of the most unmissable sights in West Sussex would not be complete without a mention for the Devil’s Dyke. Subject of many myths and legends over the years, the deep, v-shaped valley is said to have been created by the devil, tunnelling a valley in order to flood the land. From the viewpoint you can spot tiny little villages and hamlets, wildlife flocking across the hills and the way out to the sea. Whether you’re a keen walker, cyclist or picnicker, the Devil’s Dyke is a must-visit West Sussex attraction.
Picture a typical West Sussex village in your mind and Eartham is exactly that. Nestled amongst the quiet, winding roads you’ll discover quintessential country cottages and a village chapel after a lengthy walk through the surrounding fields and woodland.
Sitting between the quaint villages of Balcombe and Ardingly is the vast Ardingly Reservoir. Surrounded by secluded woodland and trails that are perfect for walking or cycling, it’s an ideal destination for a laidback daytrip – so be sure to pack a picnic as you sit out and look across the water, or amble your way from one village to the other.
North of Petworth, Ebernoe Common Nature Reserve is a treasure trove of wildlife just waiting to be explored. An ancient woodland with a mystical feel to it, visitors will be delighted by what feels like an ever-changing environment of local wildlife. From carpets of spring bluebells and choruses of nightingales to woodland butterflies in the summer and collections of fungi in the autumn, you’ll spot something a little different every time.
Acres of wildland and free-roaming animals are at the heart of the Knepp Estate, a conservation project devoted to giving nature as much freedom as possible. Home to deer, cattle, ponies and rare species such as turtle doves, peregrine falcons, purple emperor butterflies and five species of owl, it’s a truly spectacular opportunity to witness wildlife untouched.
The Estate team have provided a map of public walking routes around the estate here.
At Experience West Sussex, we love seeing your photos and stories of your favourite spots in and around the county. If you feel we’ve missed your favourite out, why not tag us in your social posts or use the hashtag #RediscoverWestSussex?
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