Brighton

Day Trip: Eastbourne

23 Dec 2019
Who wouldn’t want to visit the so-called ‘Sunniest Place in Great Britain’? Granted, there isn’t a huge amount of competition, but you can only beat what is put in front of you, and darling Eastbourne does a number on all that stand before it. Just a short drive from Brighton, this is one of the most popular seaside towns on the South Coast and a great base for exploring the South Downs. It also makes for a fabulous day trip option if you’re looking to get out of Brighton.

Getting to Eastbourne from Brighton couldn’t be easier, at least until teleportation is finally invented. Trains run between the two cities every thirty minutes or so, with the journey taking a rather scenic 40 minutes. The drive between the two takes a little longer, 50 minutes there or thereabouts, but does give the added advantage of a stunning coastal route. We generally recommend the train, but you can’t go wrong either way.

Eastbourne might be known as the sunniest place in Great Britain but there is plenty more to it than that massive ball of fire in the sky. Redoubt Fortress is the place to head first, a nod to the town’s proud history of strategic importance. Built in 1805, this circular curiosity is one of only three examples of how Britain planned to defend itself in case of an invasion during the Napoleonic Wars, although by the time it was fully armed an invasion was unlikely. It only ever fired its guns once, more out of frustration than anything else. It has served more use as a tourist attraction than a defensive structure, with a military museum and frequent jovial cannon fire the main pulls. The views from the ramparts are also rather delightful, although do pipe up if you see Napoleon and his allies on the horizon.

If you’re hoping to explore a little bit of the South Coast, Easterbourne is the perfect base from which to do so. From the Sovereign Harbour you can get a cozy boat ride to Beachy Head, one of the most picturesque spots in England. The highest chalk sea cliff in Great Britain, Beachy Head is just about as impressive as the English seaside gets, and a chance to visit is a chance that must be grasped with both hands. These chalk behemoths have been here since the the demise of the dinosaurs (give or take a million years or so) and will be here long after we’ve gone (maybe a century or two), and the lighthouse that stands adrift of the cliffs provides one of England’s great seaside images. Be sure to book your trip to Beachy Head ahead of time, especially in summer.

Back in Eastbourne, the Victorian resort is home to everything we expect from such a place — colourful houses, elegant architecture, a nostalgia-heavy pier and all the fish and chips one could ever want, almost enough to share with the seagulls (don’t share with the seagulls). The Towner Gallery is one of the most creative in the country, and nearby Michelham Priory (in the hilariously named Upper Dicker) is the site of the longest medieval water-filled moat in England. History, culture, beauty and the beach, Eastbourne is a seaside spot worth discovering for yourself.

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