Every month our friends at Cool Places give us a Top 10 list of places that can be easily accessed from some key YHA hostels. This month it’s the beautiful YHA South Downs in Lewes, which is within easy distance of more walks and pubs than you can shake a stick at. Here are some of their favourites…
This is the sort of place that we hesitate to recommend because it’s much too nice to share…but too late, we’ve gone and done it! An excellent place for lunch, tea, cake and more, served in a courtyard filled with tumbling flowers and greenery.
The South Downs farmhouse rented by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell is now a museum to the Bloomsbury group, crammed full of their paintings, furniture and everyday objects.
This beautiful old flint cottage is known for its wonderful cottage garden and is easily accessed from the South Downs Way. It also serves local ales and excellent decent food and is a five-minute walk from Berwick church, decorated with murals by Vanessa and Quentin Bell in the 1940s.
No less than John Constable reckoned the view from this famous Sussex beauty spot to be “the finest in the world” and who are we to disagree? The National Trust manage the site and have a number of good downloadable walks on their website.
If you’ve ever had the urge to fling yourself off a steep hillside held up by nothing more than a flimsy piece of fabric – and let’s face it, who hasn’t? – these guys will be right up your street, not to mention providing one of the best ways to experience the South Downs from a fabulous airbourne vantage point, paragliding for beginners…and scaredy cats.
Situated just to the north of Brighton, near Hassocks, this is one of our favourite Sussex pubs, which is saying something! It’s the country outpost of a ginger-themed chain based mostly in Brighton and is almost the ideal gastro-pub – relaxed and friendly and a nice place just to have a pint, but at the same time serving exceptional food with warmth and panache.
Home to the annual dwyle flunking championships and the intriguing game of toad-in’the-hole, this old Lewes hostelry is our sort of place, a small simple pub that prides itself on stocking local Harveys ales and serving up hearty, unpretentious pub grub. It would be a shame not to stop off for a pint if you’re staying in Lewes.
Virginia Woolf vowed this would be her home forever when she moved here in 1919 with her husband Leonard and she was right as they lived here until her death in 1941. It hosted all the most prominent members of the Bloomsbury group during that time and is a fascinating place to visit for that reason alone.
Firle is one of the Downs’ prettiest villages and the centuries-old Ram is its pub – a rambling old place full of dogs, locals and walkers with muddy boots that still manages to serve up some very exceptional food both in its cosy interior and its pretty walled garden. Great walks in every direction too.
There’s never been a better time to visit these magnificent gardens, laid out in the eighteenth century by Capability Brown, who was born 300 years ago this year – the azaleas and rhododendrons are a riot of colour in late spring.
Book your stay at YHA South Downs now!