To celebrate National Picnic Month this July, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite picnic spots in East Sussex.

COVID-19 update: While we can still visit our favourite picnic spots, we must be careful to respect, protect and enjoy them. If you arrive and your favourite spot is busy, please consider visiting another location so that you and your family can safely socially distance from others. Having a back-up place in mind nearby is a good idea, especially if the car park is full on arrival.

We recommend planning your visit before you set off. For example, check if facilities are open and bring a rubbish bag with you. Please help protect our countryside and parks by taking your rubbish home with you!

1. Southover Grange Gardens in Lewes

Often described as the ‘hidden gem of Lewes’, the secluded Southover Grange Gardens are a delight in any season, featuring a variety of plant life, including a magnificent Mulberry tree. The beautiful gardens are divided into two parts by the Winterbourne stream, and are maintained by Lewes District Council.

2. Cuckmere Haven

Situated between Seaford and Eastbourne, Cuckmere Haven is a stunning area of flood plains, where the South Downs meet the English Channel. The River Cuckmere twist and turns through the valley, which opens out at a shingle beach offering dramatic views of the Seven Sisters – towering white chalk cliffs that drop into the sea. The route offers some of the best scenery in the county and is a great spot for birdwatching. Visit Cuckmere Haven for more details on the facilities currently open.

3. Sheffield Park and Garden near Uckfield

This big outdoors estate with four lakes in its centre is a great space for the kids (and adults) to run around and enjoy the summer months. Cast aside the fatigue of work and relax; sit down for lunch amongst beautiful summer flowers, play some outdoor classics like frisbee and cricket on the historic pitch, or just explore the garden with the parkland trails. You can currently visit the park using a booking system. Visit Sheffield Park  for more details.

Sheffield Park, Uckfield, by Derek Winterburn

Sheffield Park, Uckfield, by Derek Winterburn.

4. Forest Way Country Park

The Forest Way runs alongside an old railway line from East Grinstead to Groombridge, and passese through Forest Row, Hartfield, and Withyham. There are seats and picnic benches along the entire route, and visitors will be surrounded by wildlife in this ‘green corridor’, which includes pond life, such as dragonflies and newts. There’s also deer, foxes and badgers and a variety of birds that bring the park to life with their songs.

5. Egerton Park in Bexhill

One of the most popular parks in Bexhill, Egerton Park has been awarded the Green Flag Award from Keep Britain Tidy. The park provides lots of green space and, when safe to use again, a playground for the kids. The disabled toilets at Egerton Park are currently open for everyone to use and are being clean regularly.

6. Princes Park in Eastbourne

A step back from the seaside promenade in Eastbourne sits Princes Park, first opened in 1922, which has a Green Flag Award. The park boasts a large area of grass just right for picnicking, a play park for children, (which may still be closed due to COVID-19), and a lake with plenty of wildlife. Help children hunt down the aromatic herb garden and identify different smells or organise a game of rounder’s where there is lots of space. You can check if the toilet is open before you visit at Eastbourne District Council’s public toilets.

7. Hastings

Hastings is filled with many perfect spots for picnic goers when the sun’s out. Its famous beach provides a refreshing and traditional seaside atmosphere; both the East and West hills have stunning views; Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve is a great spot for wildlife; and the tranquil and beautifully designed Alexandra Park – Hastings is a one-stop shop for all your picnic needs. Please check Visit 1066 for their latest advice for visitors before setting off.

Alexandra Park in Hastings. Image from Jonny Thompson and 1066 Country Marketing.

Alexandra Park in Hastings. Image from Jonny Thompson and 1066 Country Marketing.

If you have any top picnic places you’d like to share, please leave us a comment!