Feeling the need for a dose of country village wholesomeness? You’ll find it in spades in the oh-so-charming Alfriston, in the heart of East Sussex. With its chocolate-box-pretty pubs, medieval buildings and independent shops, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The bucolic, rolling landscape of the South Downs is the main event here, though, so don’t forget your walking shoes and to soak up those views.
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A perfect day in Alfriston
Take a wander around the Tye (the local village green) where you’ll find St Andrew’s Church – also known as the ‘Cathedral of the South Downs’ – and the fourteenth-century Clergy House, which was the National Trust’s first ever property.
Take a stroll – one of the best is the Alfriston Clergy House walk, which loops through picturesque farmland and joins the South Downs Way. Or walk along the Cuckmere River, which takes you past the iconic Litlington White Horse, and to the sea.
Cafés don’t get much cuter than Badgers Tea House – once the village bakery – with its leafy courtyard, delicious homemade cakes and cream teas (sample its speciality: elderflower and gooseberry sponge). For something more substantial, head to The Star Inn for hearty pub fare in front of a crackling fire.
Bookworms will love Much Ado Books, an independent bookshop devoted to the best of the literary world. Tucked away in a converted barn, you’ll definitely find yourself leaving with a souvenir. Across the road, vintage-fashion lovers will be in their element in the Dressing Room, and don’t forget to check out Alfriston Arts, which sells local prints and paintings.
Arguably one of the best walks in the country is a hike along the South Downs Way, to see the views of the striking Seven Sisters white chalk cliffs and open sea. The route runs from the National Trust site of Birling Gap to Beachy Head and its Instagrammable lighthouse. Just don’t take a selfie too near the edge…
There’s nothing like a glass of wine after a long day’s walking, so why not go one better and stay in a vineyard? Award-winning Rathfinny Wine Estate, renowned for its sparkling Sussex wines, is home to the Flint Barns, which have been stylishly restored to include ten en-suite bedrooms. When you have worked up an appetite, dine on local produce at the Tasting Room and sample all the wines for yourself at the Cellar Door, before cosying up in front of the fire. A proper grape escape.
Rathfinny Wine Estate, Alfriston. From £100 a night.