by Katie Lineker
With the clocks turning back, and a shift in the weather, the change of season is certainly upon us.
The transition from Autumn to Winter along the Coastal Culture Trail can be both beautiful and dramatic. The low winter sun highlights the stunning landscape that sweeps alongside the 18 miles of coastline that links Eastbourne, Bexhill, and Hastings, and you are more likely to catch a stunning sunrise or sunset at this time of year. If you are lucky enough to see the sun as it drops into the English Channel just in front of Beachy Head, then you are lucky enough to know what a special stretch of Sussex coastline this is.
As a county, Sussex has a history of attracting artists, writers, makers and creators to live, work, and make here. With its diverse and dramatic landscape of the South Downs, the beauty of the coastline, and the clarity of the light, it is easy to see how you can be inspired here.
Writer, photographer, and local resident Roff Smith has spent the last 30 years travelling the world working for titles such as National Geographic, and has recently turned his attentions more locally, discovering that you don’t have to go far to feel like you have travelled and experienced great things.
Speaking of his most recent Sussex explorations, Roff says:
“Every morning I set off on a journey, up at sparrows and down the street on my bicycle, exercising my imagination as much as my legs. By the time I return to the house an hour or two later, having witnessed the sunrise and put however many miles of town and country beneath my wheels, I feel as though I have been places, seen things, travelled in the grand old sense of the word. To that end I bring along my camera and tripod and record these journeys as though they were travel stories, celebrating the freedoms and simple joy of a bicycle ride and the marvels of travelling at home. I find myself seeing with new eyes and delighting in the discovery that you don’t need to hop on a plane to experience a sense of wonder or the romance of difference. It’s right on my doorstep. And on yours too, if you look”
Roff’s words are a celebration of the region, and his photography perfectly captures the relentless, all year round beauty of the Coastal Culture Trail, reminding us that a sense of adventure or a quiet, still charm is not as far away as you may think.
Steeped in tradition, the towns that hug the Coastal Culture Trail are famous for their festivals and this winter you can indulge in a calendar of festive events from bonfire societies to frost fairs, laser light shows to late night shopping. With the enthusiasm of a child, the hum of excitement of Winter is hanging in the air and it is time to eagerly dust off your winter coat and head outside to find them.
With a new programme of exhibitions announced at the Towner Eastbourne, De La Warr Pavilion, and Hastings Contemporary, there is certainly enough to keep me returning. Planning winter escapes are the perfect excuse to hunt out restaurants with local, seasonal menus, and here in Sussex you will be spoiled for choice, paired with locally brewed beer, or a glass of world famous Sussex wine. There is so much to fit in that it is almost certain that you should stay for the weekend and give yourself the time to both explore and pause in equal measure.
We have all faced another challenging year, and the shorter days and longer nights can leave us feeling a little reflective. As we naturally assess what we have, where we are, and where we may want to go next, the rediscovery of the beauty on our doorstep is a powerful reminder of where we find ourselves and what we have achieved. Wellbeing has become an important part of navigating our post pandemic lives, and reconnecting with nature, taking time to embrace the outdoors, and pausing to take in the natural landscape can all contribute to a better balance of life. It turns out you don’t have to go that far to feel like you’ve come a long way.
Thank you to Roff Smith for giving us permission to use his photography, and for his support of the Coastal Culture Trail. Discover more about Roff’s work and photography on his website ‘The Art of the Ride’ here.
Visit the Coastal Culture Trail website to find out more about the trail here.
To book accommodation in the area, visit 1066 Country website here