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Photograph: 1066 Country _Tony Duke
Photograph: 1066 Country _Tony Duke

Try this perfect coastal getaway this summer

Hop on a train to charming Hastings and the surrounding towns, spending a weekend or more exploring exciting historical sights and amazing food spots

Written by Melita Cameron-Wood (Time Out). Paid for by Southern Railway

No summer is complete without a few days at the seaside. And that seaside escape might be closer to home than you realised. Hastings is easily accessible on the train thanks to Southern Railway – and it’s also a convenient point of departure for other day trips to nearby idyllic towns and villages and sites of historical interest. Here’s a breakdown of our favourite spots in 1066 Country — the region where William the Conqueror defeated Harold II of England, a scene famously immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry.

Photograph: 1066 Country - Jonny Thompson

1. Hastings

Nearest station: Hastings

A patchwork of crooked buildings, red roof tiles and welcoming watering holes, Hastings Old Town makes it easy to conjure up images of smugglers laden with lace and spirits trundling down its narrow alleyways.

Peppered with fishing boats, brightly coloured nets and tall black fishing huts, the Rock-a-Nore area is a testament to the industry that has shaped the town. If you want to try some fresh local fish, Webbe’s Rock-a-Nore offers an upmarket seafood experience, while Maggie’s Fish & Chips specialises in more traditional fare.

The Hastings Contemporary is a must-see for art-lovers, who will also enjoy high-street shops like Made in Hastings, where the work of local artists and artisans is on sale. For those more into exploring, the funicular railway offers a unique way of going up West Hill. From up there, you can visit the ruins of Hastings Castle, check out the Smugglers Adventure and take in the views of the higgledy-piggledy houses in pastel shades below. Round off the day with a pint at First In Last Out and some live music at The Jenny Lind Inn.

St Leonards-on-Sea
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. St Leonards-on-Sea

Nearest station: St. Leonards Warrior Square 

Somewhere along Bottle Alley (a 1930s seafront passage with walls lined with broken bottle mosaics), Hastings ends, and St Leonards-on-Sea begins. Home to elegant Victorian terraces, quirky shops and HEIST, an indoor street food market packed full of local flavours, St Leonards is the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Why not spend it perusing antique shops and sampling craft beers?

Photograph: Jonny Thompson

3. Battle

Nearest station: Battle 

Named after the Battle of Hastings, which actually took place six miles down the road from Hastings, Battle is home to the famous battlefield and the English Heritage site Battle Abbey. You can check out the grounds and the visitor centre during the day, and then return in the evening for a concert. While you’re in Battle, you should also make a pit stop at Bluebells Cafe Tearoom. You won’t regret it!

Photograph: Globe Inn

4. Rye

Nearest station: Rye

This beautiful town is the perfect place for languid afternoon strolls along cobbled streets. Hop off the train and take in the picturesque half-timbered houses on Mermaid Street before going up the hill to Ypres Tower, from where you can enjoy views of Camber Sands.

The independent high-street boutiques are also well worth a visit. Stop for a bite to eat at The Globe Inn Marsh, and if you fancy it, book yourself on a tour of a local vineyard by getting in touch with Vine + Country Wine Tours.

Photograph: De La Warr Pavilion

5. Bexhill

Nearest station: Bexhill

This elegant seaside town is home to the De La Warr Pavilion, an impressive example of 1930s art-deco architecture. This venue regularly hosts exhibitions and puts on shows, so be sure to check out their programme before your visit. There will even be free outdoor sunset screenings for visitors to enjoy from the comfort of their picnic blankets from August 12-26. While you’re there, grab yourself an ice cream from Bexhill Gelateria to complete that holiday feeling!

Discover where summer will take you with Southern Railway.

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