18 stunning villages in Sussex and what to do when you're there

Alfriston by grassrootsgroundswell (CC BY 2.0) via flic.kr/p/Vm3ktN

Alfriston by grassrootsgroundswell (CC BY 2.0) via flic.kr/p/Vm3ktN - Credit: Alfriston by grassrootsgroundswell (CC BY 2.0) via flic.kr/p/Vm3ktN

Take a day trip to one of these gorgeous downland villages, urges Hazel Sillver. They offer great walks, country pubs and wonderful views.


Park by the village station and choose to walk up and down the secluded downland here – or paraglide down! Airworks offer lessons for beginners and advanced paragliders, as well as classes in paramotoring.


Keeping up the old summer tradition of village cricket is Slindon Cricket Club. Thought to be one of the oldest cricket clubs in the country, if not the oldest, it was formed in 1731 and is still going strong today. The friendly club is a mix of old and young players.


The friendly Cheyney Croquet Club is one of the smallest in Sussex, with just one lawn, but new members are very welcome. There is also a heated swimming pool in the village, offering water aerobics and lessons in regular and Shaw swimming techniques.


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The downland village of Firle sits beneath Firle Beacon and Firle Escarpment, which is awash with wildflowers in summer. If you fancy a pub lunch, head to The Ram Inn.


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After a stroll over the Downs and the Lullington Heath Nature Reserve, head down to Litlington village to do a spot of plant shopping: Litlington Nursery sells shrubs, climbers, perennials and grasses, afterwards, refuel in the gorgeous old Tea Gardens next door.


There is a fabulous range of plants and trees for sale in the old walled kitchen garden of Stanmer Park. It is now owned by the city’s parks, and everything is home-grown. Also, be sure to take a tour of Earthship Brighton, a unique and completely off-grid building that uses the planets natural resources like sunshine and rain to power itself. The building also serves as a community centre and an aspiration to see how eco-friendly you can make your own home.

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Head up onto the South Downs and down into the secluded Castle Hill Nature Reserve, from Kingston village. The cosy pub, The Juggs, welcomes families and dogs.


The sleepy village of Fulking lies just beneath the South Downs Way and the Devil’s Dyke valley. Walk down to the pretty village from the Devil’s Dyke pub or walk up onto the hilltops from the Shepherd and Dog pub, which has a streamside garden.


The mysterious Long Man of Wilmington is a 70m tall figure on Windover Hill, on the Downs above Wilmington village. Once he would have been carved in chalk, he is now formed of white breeze blocks; he is believed to be a Neolithic figure holding dowsing rods. The local bakery, A Taste of Dreams, is a rather great place to stock up on delicious cakes and other treats.


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Cissbury Ring is an ancient flint mine and an Iron Age fort on the Downs above Findon village. The earthwork covers some 60 acres, making it the second-largest hill fort in England: you can see the Isle of Wight from the summit. There are several places to eat and drink in the village, such as Findon Manor.


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Browse the open studios at the Turner Dumbrell Workshops in Ditchling for crafts (such as bags and jewellery) and artworks. Visit the village galleries, explore the Museum of Art and Crafts. The Bull pub does good food.


There are a few shopping opportunities in the village of Alfriston, just beneath the Lullington Heath Nature Reserve. If you’re a bookworm, your favourite will be Much Ado About Books, which stocks an array of interesting new and second-hand titles in its gorgeous shop.


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Visit Monk’s House in the heart of the village, where novelist Virginia Woolf wrote some of her greatest works. Explore the beautifully decorated little house, the gorgeous garden and Virginia’s writing hut, which she referred to as “the lodge”. 


Eartham village sits close to a Roman road called Stane Street that leads up through woodland onto the Downs. The village pub, The George, does tasty traditional English pub food.


The village pub, the Fox Goes Free, is 400 years old – William III was a regular, and the first WI meeting was held here in 1915. Choose from the a la carte or bar menus. From Charlton, you can stroll up through the Levin Down Nature Reserve to the South Downs Way.


Enjoy cream teas (made with home-baked scones) or a toasted teacake in the heart of this beautiful downland village. Afterwards, stroll past Amberley Castle to the river or head uphill onto the South Downs Way.

West Ashling

The Richmond Arms pub in West Ashling has a new skittle alley and pizza van, which children will love. Next, head up onto the Downs via the Kingley Vale Nature Reserve, which has gargantuan ancient yew trees.

South Harting

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The White Hart pub does great food and has a separate menu for children. Visit Harting Down Nature Reserve, which is a-flutter with butterflies in August and head to the nearby Uppark House to see the 300-year old dolls’ house.