A Vespucci Adventures guide to West Sussex

At Experience West Sussex, we are passionate about sharing the best of our beautiful county so that you can get out and explore. Whether you’re a local or visiting from further afield you can discover the hidden gems to keep coming back for years to come.

We also want to bring you carefully selected highlights from those that know West Sussex best; we like to think of these people as our local guides. So, we asked our friends over at Vespucci Adventures to tell us about the things that make West Sussex special to them.

Vespucci Adventures was founded on a passion for long-distance walking, cycling and just getting outdoors to share a sense of adventure. The team believe in putting your phone away, unfolding a map and reconnecting with nature. Here’s what founder and CEO, Alex Middleton, had to say.

What does West Sussex mean to you?

West Sussex is my escape from London. My family moved there after almost 20 years in the intense city of Hong Kong. It took some time to adjust, but now we very much call it home. A key factor to my happiness in West Sussex is having the South Downs National Park on the doorstep, which really supports my love for trail running, cycling, hiking and wild swimming.

What’s your favourite part of West Sussex and why?

The Temple of the Winds in the Blackdown Hills plays host to one of the best views in the South of England. It’s within running distance from our office, so I try and get up there most lunchtimes.

If you had to choose two West Sussex hidden gems – what would they be?

The Temple of the Winds is actually pretty unknown, so that has to be one.

The areas around Amberley in the South Downs National Park are amazing. We have a signature adventure walk that takes you from Amberley to Arundel and back, comprising some amazing views and riverside walking along the Arun River.

West Sussex is also home to some of the best pubs in the UK. If you haven’t been to The Horse Guards Inn in Tillington, this is well worth a visit.

What is your number one recommendation for a young couple to do in West Sussex?

I would say get out into nature and do a hike or cycle ride in the South Downs National Park and stop off at a great pub. Head to Amberley as it puts you right in the thick of it – if you are driving, you can park at the Cocking Hill car park or you can get the train.

What’s your number one must-see/do during a short trip?

I think the key to any short trip, no matter what you do, is to try and come away feeling refreshed. I personally like to get a bunch of people together and get outdoors, hiking or trail running. Although it can be physically tiring, my mind always feels refreshed as it has had time away from the pressures of everyday life. Immersing yourself in an experience can do wanders for your both your physical and mental health and that’s what I look for in a short trip.

What’s the best…

way to relax in West Sussex?

Find a stretch of river for the day and bring a picnic (in summer or warmer months that is!).  There are some perfect spots along the River Arun in Chichester, Midhurst and Petworth.

place to watch the sunset?

Blackdown Hill.

place to stay?

The Norfolk Arms in Arundel is pretty cool. It’s right in the shadow of Arundel Castle, has its own craft beer, coffee shop and a refurbished restaurant with a great food menu.

walk for a beginner?

Castle in the Air is a great walk for beginners. It has plenty of points where you can choose to stop if you need to and there are some great places to explore along the way.

What’s so important for you about adventuring or being outside without your phone?

We live in a time where we are all reliant on our smartphones, so I think it’s important that we learn how to spend time away from technology. If you are out to dinner or on a hike with friends and a work email comes in, you are immediately taken away from the actual experience and back into everyday life.

Getting outside without a phone (or at least having it on airplane mode) really makes you feel like you are on an adventure. When you’re just relying on a map, the connection with whoever is with you is greater and you actually take in what is happening around you. We have never been more connected globally, yet at the same time we have never felt so disconnected. A walk in the countryside won’t necessarily solve this issue, but it does have great benefits. This is why we want to try and inspire people around Britain to put away their phones and get out and experience our wonderful countryside.

Are you off on any adventures soon?

I am doing the Marathon Des Sables, which is 150-mile race over six days in the Sahara in April, so have spent a lot of time recently running around in every piece of clothing I own to replicate the heat!

If you’re feeling inspired to put your phone away and get out to explore our countryside with your loved ones, head over to Vespucci Adventures to browse their expertly curated adventures.

Don’t forget, you can find pages of inspiration with Experience West Sussex, from some of the most interesting places to stay in the county and fantastic food stops along the way. So, what are you waiting for? Discover #YourWestSussex and create your own adventure.

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