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Trip to Southeast England

Hello, we are headed to Southern England with another couple in November. We land at Heathrow around 8am on a Saturday, and will be immediately going to Brighton in hopes of catching the match that day. We have a airbnb for 3 nights there. After, we intend on heading East along the coast for a few days, and ending up in London for 4 days. Rick said head OUT of London to small towns, then end in London. Which is what we did.

My question is, what towns on the Southern Coast between Brighton and Canterbury are "MUST STAY" for a night or two?

Pubs, shops, yet quiet. We want to disconnect as much as possible. Also, renting a car to go from Brighton to Canterbury (taking train back to London). Any recommendations for cars in that area?

Posted by
8889 posts

Not necessarily "Must stay", but definately "must visit": Rye, Lewes, Leeds castle, Dover Castle (but forget rest of the town).
Possibly: Arundel (in wrong direction, west of Brighton), Hever castle

Edit: I forgot Seven Sisters (click for photo).

Posted by
19187 posts

Of the places Chris mentioned I've only been to Arundel and Lewes. I liked both.

I haven't spent the night in Canterbury, but I was there long enough to take a walking tour organized by the tourist office. In addition, the stained glass museum upstairs at the cathedral was interesting, offering an opportunity to see the glass up close. There didn't seem any way to avoid the stairs.

As of 2017 there was no tourist office in Brighton, due to budget cuts . Your hotel will probably be able to supply a map, but it would be best to research the hours of local attractions before arrival.

Posted by
5084 posts

Shoeburyness and Southend-on-Sea are worthwhile towns. We’ve used the direct train to connect with London, so haven’t rented a car to go to or from.

At the point where the Thames river meets the North Sea, at low tide you can see mud flats stretching out for some distance, and as the tide returns, the water rushes back to the shore at an astonishing speed. Seafood vendors will sell you a cup of cockles, a snack which fits the scene.

Posted by
4882 posts

I presume you are aware that football fixtures are regularly changed to fit in with the tv coverage? A weekend match can be played anytime between Friday evening and Monday evening. The precise date and time is confirmed 2 or 3 weeks out. The new football ground is quite a way out of Brighton. Parking is difficult there, so allow plenty of time if you opt for a park and ride option. It will be dark around 4.30pm, so when you come out of the match.

How many nights do you have between Brighton and Canterbury?

You should be out of Heathrow by 10am, hopefully. Renting a car after a long flight for the (possibly 2 hour) journey to Brighton isn’t a good idea with jet lag.

Lewes is easily covered from Brighton. After your time in Brighton, you could head to Rye. If you want somewhere twee inland, consider Burwash, Robertsbridge or Bodiam (good for several National Trust properties including Batemans and Bodiam Castle, both of which are still open in November).

There is a choice of several castles if these are of interest - Leeds, Hever, Walmer, Deal or Dover. Dover itself is a dump, but the castle is worth a visit - stay in Hythe, Sandwich or Deal. The gardens won’t be at their best in November and many will have closed for the winter.

Dungeness is unique and worth seeing for its collection of unusual houses (eg one made from a former railway carriage) and to climb its lighthouse. I don’t think the steam railway runs in November.

I would miss the section of coastline between Sandwich and Herne Bay, as it’s not the prettiest. Whitstable has some good seafood restaurants and is a good base from which to see Faversham and Canterbury.

There maybe local events happening in November that maybe of interest, but the dates for many of these are not yet available.

Shoeburyness and Southend aren’t close to where you are going to be as they are a 2+ hour drive from Canterbury. Personally, I would not recommend either.

Posted by
21 posts

We stayed in Eastbourne across the street from the beach. Nice town and the white cliffs just outside town (Beachy Head and Seven Sisters) are very visible from the walking paths on top, unlike Dover where I am told you need to take a boat tour to really see them. We also took a trip into Battle which was interesting if you like history. It is beautiful on the coast!

Posted by
26053 posts

Southend does have a pier and two stations. The centre is pretty run down though, and it has been a long time since I have seen it described as a must stay or even a must visit.

If you do visit Southend pier it is fun to take the little train out to near the end. Once.

There is a very good airshow at Southend, and the airshow is free, but only for 2 days a year.

There is one other thing against Southend - it is at the east end of Essex, which is north of the river. 30ABlues, our poster, wants somewhere on the south coast between Brighton to Canterbury. To me that's Kent, Sussex, and maybe southern Surrey. I wouldn't want to expose our poor poster to the unmitigated disaster that two, two!!! voluntary crossings of the Dartford Crossing would be. Creeping heavy truck laden traffic on the east side of the M25, the absolute thrill of the very narrow, slow and often blocked Dartford Tunnel, and the the equally fun and highly speed controlled Queen Elizabeth Bridge. And you have to pay the tolls within 24 hours and that means online or in a PayPoint shop. Maybe by train, but even then...

If looking for quaint there is plenty more up the Essex coast, starting with Constable Country and the home of Wilkins Jam, but Essex is off the route by a fair spell.

Rye on the south coast is nice.

Brighton and Canterbury are so close I'd be reluctant to encourage you to stop for the night on the way.

EDIT - Now that I am reminded that you doing this in November, if you are tempted by Southend you should check if the pier will be open, or if the little train will be operating. Being a mile out into the estuary in November could be a "bracing" experience_

Posted by
5084 posts

Nigel and 30ABlues - right, I was cueing off of the general “Southeast England” in the post title, and not the “between Brighton and Canterbury” bit. Sorry if that’s not workable, but if anyone has the opportunity to visit . . .

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you everyone. Yes, aware of the soccer TV movement. The second weekend we are hitting Chelsea in London, and made sure to leave it open ended until we know the TV time for that match. Rolling the dice on Brighton match, hopefully it becomes a Sunday or Monday match. Likely miss it if on Saturday.

We might stay for Bonfire night in Lewes on November 5th. Anyone have history going to that event?

We totally get the weather will be what it will be. We are from Florida, and really do love the cooler weather. Sun is out almost year round here. Our target stops look to be Brighton a few nights, Hastings, and off to Canterbury.

We do want to drop by Royal St. George's to see or even play it possibly as it is next year's British Open venue.