So you’ve never been to…Lewes, East Sussex

A town that couldn't be more different than its neighbour Brighton

Where exactly is it? A simple and super-easy 15-min train ride from Brighton (read our latest restaurant guide to that city here).

First, a coffee. Hell yeah, the town thrives on the stuff; in fact there are so many artisan cafes you’ll be spoiled for choice. We loved the Flint Owl Bakery on the high street down towards the river.

Lewes Castle
A thoroughfare alongside Lewes Castle. Photo: SE

OK. So what goes on there? Well, it couldn’t be more different than its coastal near-neighbour. Think hilltop old town, medieval buildings a-plenty (like the unique secondhand bookshop, below) lofty castle (above), epic views, and riverside pubs.

There are even a few independent taprooms tucked away in unusual places, well off the beaten track. More of which later.

The 15th century bookshop. Photo: SE

Where should I eat? For small plates, hit the tiny corner spot Dill (2 South St) – think Sichuan cured sea trout or marmite glazed ox tongue – or for trad pub grub in the cutest boozer it has to be the candlelit Snowdrop Inn, pictured below, in the shadow of the white cliffs.

And there’s streetfood of the quality taco variety at both the Abyss and Beak breweries.

The Snowdrop by night. Photo: SE

Ah, breweries! That’s what the town’s also known for, right? Well, yes. Start at the John Harvey Tavern on the river, where you can sample beers from the longstanding Harvey’s Brewery opposite (see main pic).

The oldest independent brewery in Sussex, it’s a family business, run by seven generations of John Harvey’s descendants since 1790; you can even take a tour.

Abyss Brewery
Abyss Brewery. Photo: SE

Then what? Well, our next stop was plunging into Abyss (admittedly after crossing a couple of ugly main thoroughfares and sweeping past the retail park). But it’s worth the trek as this modern taproom, in converted historic buildings decked out with vast tanks, has a real buzz on a weekend afternoon (although there seemed to be more kids than kidults at one point).

Beak Brewery
Nestled in the cliffs: Beak Brewery. Photo: SE

And then? Finally, follow the riverside path alongside the noisy A26 to what turned out to be the day’s highlight, Beak Brewery, also nestled at the foot of the white cliffs.

This is an absolute gem: there’s friendly, knowledgeable staff, roaring fire pits and vegan street-food. The house Parade IPA is recommended, as is the Pilsner (and the Baltic Porter, in fact.) Hic.

After all that we’ll need a lie-down. Try the Victorian boutique B & B Monty’s, more details here.

For more info on Lewes head to its website here

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