A Scenic Drive through the South Downs Brighton to Arundel via Amberley
South Downs: Devils Dyke Car Park.
Journey through some of the most beautiful back roads in this part of the country from Brighton to Arundel and back with a stop at the picturesque market town of Amberley.
Begin your day in “boho” Brighton, the popular seaside city characterised by a lively cultural scene and some remarkable architectural landmarks. Take a stroll on the Palace Pier and wander from the beach to the famous Royal Pavilion, a project George IV undertook while he was Prince of Wales. What began as a farmhouse initially became a Palladian building. After George became king he enlisted the help of architect John Nash and the structure was transformed into a palace and gardens that would look more at home in one of the tales of the Arabian Nights than in a town on the south coast of England.
Some time after it was built the Pavilion fell into disrepair. During the Second World War part of it even served as a ration office for the Ministry of Food. It has since been wonderfully restored, its elaborately decorated interior once again a feast for the eyes. Upon completion, rumour has it that the music room was enough to make the King cry when he first laid eyes on its wondrous dome and elaborate inlays.
But there is much more to Brighton than grand examples of British faux Orientalism. Poke around the trendy and stylish shops of the Lanes or stop for a coffee or meal at one of the many quality establishments. Brighton’s oldest pub, the Cricketers, will provide the classic experience, while the Greys is a cosy alternative, replete with fine wines, Belgian beers and a good selection of pub fare.
Check out the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery for some great examples of designer furniture from the last century, including the 1937 Mae West Lips Sofa by Salvador Dali. Pop in the Museum Café for a quick snack if you’re feeling peckish.
Leave Brighton by going north on the A23, crossing the Downs and joining the A273 via the sliproad. Turn left onto the B2116 at Hassocks, taking it through Hurstpierpoint and then over the A23.
Go right when you reach the T-junction and keep an eye out for a left turn in order to keep on the B2116. If you fancy a pub stop, the Royal Oak in Wineham, just north of the B2116, is highly recommended. You’ll come to another T-junction after four miles where you will turn right onto the A281, followed by a left turn towards Partridge Green in order to get back on the B2116. After the village go left onto the B2135 to Steyning, then right at the A283 to Storrington. At the roundabout in Storrington go left onto the B2139 and continue for around four miles, stopping in Amberley.
Spend a moment taking in the charming thatched-roofed stone and brick houses that adorn this village. Other attractions include the Amberley Working Museum (call 01798 831370 for information on opening hours), and the scenic views and quality fare of the Black Horse country pub.
Whilst in Amberley, if you are looking for a unique hotel to stay for a few nights, you will be hard pushed to find somewhere more luxurious than Amberley Castle.
Amberley Castle has 19 unique bedrooms all furnished with fine fabrics and antiques.
The Castle has two dining rooms, both of which offer elegance at its finest and superior cuisine.
If you are fortunate enough to visit during the nicer weather, there are also 12 acres of gardens to stroll around and if you’re lucky enough, you may even encounter some peacocks. (http://www.amberleycastle.co.uk or call 01798 831992 for more information)
After Amberley, head towards Arundel on the B2139 and then head south on the A284. This village boasts an impressive castle, pastoral scenery and a nice selection of antique shops to browse through. For 700 years Arundel castle was the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, the imposing castle still faithful to its Norman origins, despite restorations in the 1700s and 1800s. Inside you’ll find a lovely chapel, splendid rooms, arched hallways and sumptuous décor, including some impressive works of art by Van Dyck and Holbein.
Arundel’s gothic cathedral, which sits majestically above the village, also deserves a look-see. It was built by the Howard family and its spire was designed by the inventor of the hansom cab, John Hansom. Remember that if you’re ever in charge of questions for a quiz night.
Leaving Amberley you’ll get on the A27 to Worthing. Take the Warningcamp exit to stop at the George and Dragon, another fine country pub in the village of Burpham, which also boasts a number of fine walks.
Get back on the A27, pass Worthing (home of legendary automotive engineering firm Ricardo) and head north on the A283 through the River Adur valley. You’ll then take the A2037 heading northeast towards Henfield where you’ll join the A281 to Brighton. At Pyecombe get back on the A23 to return to Brighton.
Key drive details:
Journey length is70 miles.
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Traffic is normally heavy in Brighton and on the A27.
Recommended pubs include the Greys and the Cricketers in Brighton; the Royal Oak in Wineham; the Black Horse in Amberley; and the George and Dragon in Burpham.
Main locations are Brighton, the South Downs, Amberley and Arundel
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