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The explorer’s guide to Crawley and East Grinstead

Crawley may be known as the home of Gatwick Airport, but at Experience West Sussex, we think there is so much more to see and do here than meets the eye.

If you’re looking for a relaxing trip away that’s not too far from home but encompasses all the benefits of the rural countryside as well as the best in shopping, leisure and entertainment, say no more.

We’ve put together an itinerary for those looking for a bit of everything to maximise your time away.

Nights: 2

Location: Crawley and East Grinstead

Ideal for: Couples, solo travellers

Travel: Just 45 minutes from London by train, this trip can be easily carried out by public transport.

Day 1

Check into your self-catered accommodation at Cottesmore Lodges, near the peaceful Buchan Country Park. You’ll have everything you need for an enjoyable country stay, including complimentary access to on-site tennis courts if you find yourself with some free time.

Crawley’s centre is just a short bus ride away, where you’ll find plenty of big names for shopping and eating. Or if shopping’s not your thing, take the 10 Fastway from Crawley to TeamSport for an exhilarating afternoon of indoor go-karting on a custom track designed by international race engineers and see who comes out on top.

Head back into town for the evening, where you have a choice of international cuisine to choose from. Royal Thai Taste is consistently rated as one of Crawley’s best restaurants, offering authentic and vibrant Thai dishes and tapas-style plates, whilst Leo’s Tapas recreates a Mediterranean atmosphere with delicious Portuguese and Spanish small plates and sharers.

After dinner, head over to The Hawth for a pre-theatre tipple and a show. From live music, stand-up comedy, theatre performances and West End musicals, there’s a jam-packed programme year-round that’s bound to tempt you. Finally, it’s back to your lodge to wind down and get a good night’s sleep for your next adventure-filled day.
Day 2

Start the morning off right with a fresh bagel and a cup of coffee at Arabica Coffee House or choose from the huge menu of crepes. Alternatively, you’ll find a delicious and innovative variety on the menu at nearby vegan café, Sage Kitchen.

Ready to seize the day, hail a taxi towards East Grinstead. Depending on your desired activity levels, you’ve got several options. If you’re keen to try watersports for the first time, take on a kayaking experience and learn to paddle on the calm waters of Weir Wood Reservoir with Hatt Adventures. The reservoir’s surroundings make for a scenic walk and picnicking spot, not to mention a great opportunity to photograph the West Sussex countryside. The team at Hatt Adventures can also provide climbing tuition and, with large sandstone formations at Stone Farm close by, you can soon learn the basics and safety of rock climbing and be rewarded with spectacular views across the reservoir and forest.

If you’re keen to explore at your own pace, choose the Kingscote Estate for its choice of scenic walking routes around the River Medway, acres of vineyards and Bluebell Railway. Reward yourself at the end of the hike with one of the Kingscote Estate’s tour and tastings, where you can get up close to the vines, learn how wines are produced and, most importantly, how to taste them. Choose from a wide variety of experiences including afternoon tea, lunch platters and full two-course lunches.

Before heading back to your lodge for the night, be sure to pay one of the nearby country pubs a visit to sample of West Sussex’s local produce for dinner. We love The Cat Inn in West Hoathly for fresh Mediterranean-inspired dishes that change with the seasons, as well as traditional pub classics.

Day 3

Maximise your final day by heading out bright and early to the world-famous Tulleys Farm. Start off at Tulleys Tea Room for a classic country breakfast and choose full breakfast dishes, French toast or build-your-own plates – but make sure you allow time for it to go down, as it’s onto the escape room next.

With four different themed escape games to play, including the Great Depression and a futuristic word, you can choose from varying difficulty levels to test your logic and problem-solving skills, finding clues, cracking codes and solving mysteries for an exhilarating few hours!

At the end of your trip, you’ll have tested yourselves both mentally and physically – hopefully quenching your thirst for adventure until the next trip.

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