The fourth title of a totally new concept in travel guidebooks launched by Bradt Guides, and my own very personal take on Sussex, where I live.
I have been the project manager and editor for much of the Slow Travel series. After guiding the authors through the first three titles, I couldn't resist the offer of writing my own guide to Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park in 2011. Updated during 2016 as Slow Travel Sussex it is reincarnated in a new design, with new content and a different cover too, for publication in 2017.
The Slow guides to North Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, and Devon and Exmoor were the first titles (published 2010) and Northumberland & Durham, Dorset and Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly were published in 2012. Slow New Forest followed in 2013, then the series was retitled as 'Slow Travel:' - with some existing guides broken into two or three volumes (eg Devon became East Devon, South Devon and North Devon), and others covering new areas such as Dumfries and Galloway, the Peak District and Shropshire.
A new edition comes out in February 2017. I've cut out Hampshire part of the South Downs National Park but focussed even more on the special places of Sussex, adding much new material.
In April 2011 I published the Sussex and South Downs National Park volume in the same series, just after the South Downs National Park became fully into being. The book includes a bit of eastern Hampshire (Winchester, Alresford and the Meon Valley for example), as the new South Downs National Park stretches out of Sussex. It doesn’t include every bit of Sussex – I focus on the areas visitors will most want to dip into - mostly that means the South Downs, the coast and the High Weald.
An exceptional new book ... just part of the mixture that makes Slow Sussex and South Downs National Park so compelling. This is no standard guide book. It's a fascinating blend of things to see, things to do - and perhaps how to go about it all on foot.
It also covers aspects never seen in a guidebook before: like Newhaven's spectral railway station, the unique 'oyster' bungalows of Normans Bay, and the story of how the great storm turned Parham Park into a prized wildlife habitat. Then there are walks with llamas, a visit to an astonishing cloth flower factory, woodlands you can find out about coppicing, and prehistoric flints to peruse while strolling over the South Downs.
Bradt Slow Guides follow such concepts as the Slow City movement – born in Italy – and the Slow Food movement. Essentially it’s about celebrating the present as much as the past, in taking time to seek out local distinctiveness at a relaxed pace and to savour what makes a place special. It’s about sharing pleasures of discovering new places and experiences with readers, and about rediscovering a simpler, slower way of travel.
Bradt Slow Guides tune in with several emerging trends:
- Concerns with the environment and with the carbon footprints of air travel
- The desire for ‘real’ experiences when on holiday: real food, wellness, meeting local people
- An awareness that children need to enjoy their childhoods and be aware of their surroundings
- A reaction against ‘clone town’ Britain
- An awakening interest in the concept of Britishness (in the best sense) and heritage
Visit Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park on facebook.
For an interview with Tim Locke see Sussex Society magazine.
- A chat with a volunteer working on the restoration of the Chichester Canal.
- A day out at Shoreham: visiting the Norman church, Marlipins Museum, the extraordinary parade of houseboats and a walk over the fields to Shoreham’s art deco airport. And a cycle route over the South Downs to get there.
- The heroic, epic community effort that extended the Bluebell Railway to East Grinstead, after half a century of hoping.
- The story of how Parham Park’s estate became a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
- Taking a sewer tour in Brighton.
- Battle Abbey and battlefield tour: how it is arranged, and the pithier facts about the 1066 battle that changed the course of English history.
- Explaining how rail routes tie in: which stations are useful, and how much of the area you can cover without a car.
- The Lewes pound: why a Sussex town has got its very own currency.
- The Long Man of Wilmington: new theories suggesting he’s not as old as we all thought.
- The English Wine Centre: wine tastings, English wines and an interview with the proprietor, and a visit to Rathfinny Vineyard - still in its infancy but poised to become Britain's largest wine producer.
- Rye to Hastings: a great, unsung coastal walk that crosses an astonishing variety of landscapes.
- Eric Ravilious, and his incomparable depictions of the South Downs landscape.
Perhaps if Jerome K Jerome had published guidebooks instead of novels, he might have written books like these.
We like “Slow Sussex” a lot. The book nicely tempts the readers to spots she or he never knew they wanted to visit. All in all, the book is a splendid introduction to one of the most attractive and accessible parts of England.
Thanks to Tim, I'm now inspired to visit Kingley Vale for myself, not to mention Fishbourne's Roman Palace and Sussex's Purple Patch. I want to go llama trekking in the Ashdown Forest and try paragliding over the Downs, and when I do, this fascinating guide will be the first thing I shall pack.
It’s a wonderful read that will really help me with exploring my adopted county. I hope it sells well - it deserves to!
Dr Hew Prendergast
Written in a pleasing journalistic style, with plenty of fact-filled anecdotes and personal experience thrown in. A book after Viva's own heart; and one that is likely to spend more time on the desktop or in the shoulder bag than on the bookshelf.
Slow Sussex! That's us! Loved the write-up, loved the book!
A book that really gets to the heart of all that’s best about Sussex, whilst taking an approach close to my own heart - a refreshingly slow and sustainable way of appreciating this beautiful corner of the country. No rush; just savour and enjoy!
I loved your new book, it’s helping me discover places that I never noticed before!
It’s really fab. Well done. Your piece about Farley Farm House was fantastic. You really captured us and the atmosphere well and are the first person to get all their facts right.
Having just enoyed the skylarks and may blossom, not to mention the village pubs and b and b's of the South Downs with my two eldest, am absolutely in tune with your wonderfully detailed guide. Will keep a stack in my bookshop, Skylark, in the Needlemakers, Lewes, and hope they sell... fast.
Locke's wry humour and detailed research make this a readable and informative book. The chatty tone is interlaced with the sort of recommendations that only someone with good local knowledge can provide.
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