Bradt’s latest addition to its Slow series, Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park follows close on the heels of the South Downs officially becoming Britain’s newest National Park on 1st April 2011 – the tenth to be designated in England.
Only an hour from London, the park extends from eastern Hampshire to the sheer cliffs at Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, and includes much of the High Weald of West Sussex too. It already receives more than twice the visitor numbers of any other national park in the country.
Author Tim Locke describes the decision as being hugely popular among local people. ‘There’s been a campaign to raise the South Downs to national park status for decades. This will help preserve the very special character of the Downs and the Weald – an area that has miraculously kept its deeply rural character, and help promote the right sort of sustainable tourism that is very key to the Slow concept.’
The book also covers much of the rest of Sussex, across which the author has been selective in picking out his favourite places – both well known and obscure. He describes the peculiarly local game of stoolball that is still widely played in these parts, a phantom railway station (Newhaven Marine) that has no trains but is still officially extant, an ancient Wealden cottage (Priest House) covered with anti-witch devices, an artist’s retreat (Farley Farm House) where Picasso painted a kitchen tile above the Aga, a tour through the Brighton sewers, and the pleasures of cruising round Chichester Harbour in a solar-powered craft.
Locke has lived in Lewes for 15 years, and though he feels he knows his patch pretty well he’s still happy to be amazed at how many new places and experiences there are to discover. ‘This is a landscape where nature and human activity strike a particularly satisfying balance. Yet it’s an area where a guidebook can really help a reader pick his or her way round carefully. You certainly won’t get the picture by attempting to charge around the whole thing.’
The book’s firm emphasis on Slow tourism is all about finding reasons to linger and savouring what makes an area special: Locke recounts his Slow travels with huge affection, chats to enthusiasts such as archaeologists and naturalists, points out places you can take courses on countryside skills, finds museums where you can volunteer at weekends, and meticulously describes ten of his favourite local walks. His book noses out eco-friendly accommodation and explores ways of pottering about without a car. Rather than attempt to cover everything, he picks out the essence of the area, with enough space to give a readable and informative description of what readers will see. No payments are made for inclusion in the guide. If it’s in the book, it’s because the author likes it.
Tim Locke lives in Lewes in East Sussex. He has written guides on walking and various national parks in Britain and continues to specialise in travel writing about Britain. Latterly he has branched out into other areas, including sustainable tourism consultancy and children’s history books, as well as editorial work for a number of publishers. He is project manager of the Bradt’s Slow series.
Contact Tim Locke can be contacted at 01273 475381, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Slow Sussex & South Downs National Park
Author: Tim Locke
Publisher: Bradt Travel Guides
Publication:April 20 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84162 343 6