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Lewes sustainable tourism

12/11/2011

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN LEWES

 

Thinking about visiting Lewes? Of course you should!  It is the capital of the beautiful South Downs, a wonderful medieval town with a unique character.  It is sometimes said that nearby Brighton is full of normal people trying to look weird but Lewes is full of weird people trying to look normal.

Lewes is twinned with Blois, (France) Waldshut-Tiengen (Germany).and Hogsmead (Harry Potter).

Here is a link to a map of Lewes

Here is some information to make your visit sustainable and enjoyable:

GETTING HERE

  • Please- leave your car at home.  Lewes has far more cars than it has space for already.  Parking will be difficult. You will become frustrated trying to find a car park.  You will find the roads crowded and the one way system difficult to understand. Everyone will be miserable.Trains run from Brighton at the rate of 5 an hour.  Every half an hour there is a train from London. Every hour there is a train from Ashford Eurostar station. (times are for Monday to Saturday daytime)Ferries arrive at Newhaven twice a day from Dieppe.  The terminal is next to the railway station.  Trains run to Lewes every half an hour Monday to Friday.

More information about transport can be found on the other parts of this site. Lewes is a transport hub so you can get to most places you might want to go by public transport.

SOMEWHERE TO STAY

In typical Lewes fashion there is a dispute between the official tourist board and some providers of accommodation.  So you can find some accommodation listed by an independent federation. http://www.lewesbandb.co.uk/ and some on the official site at http://www.enjoysussex.info/ The tourist office in the High Street is only supposed to tell you about the official places.

High house prices mean that there is not a lot of holiday accommodation in Lewes.  This means that prices can be high and in peak times it is very difficult to find somewhere to stay.

Smaller usually means better.  Before you book to stay in anywhere in town with more than 10 beds check out its reviews on  http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/

Sustainability doesn’t yet seem to have caught on in Lewes accommodation.  No one is offering reductions for people arriving by sustainable means and I haven’t been able to find anywhere that advertises environmentally friendly practices.  The Dorset Arms advertises that it tries to use local produce for its pub meals, but it isn’t clear if this extends to their breakfasts for residents.

The nearest camp site is Springbarn Farm This is on the rather infrequent 123 bus route about 2 kilometres from Lewes.  It is possible to walk into town. Slightly more convenient for public transport is Housdean camp site which is on the A27 between Lewes and Falmer. This is accessible by the buses between Brighton and Lewes and is on the Brighton/Lewes cycle route.

SOMEWHERE TO EAT

If you want somewhere that will cook you outstanding food go to Brighton or Dieppe.  On the other hand, if you want somewhere that will serve you a sandwich baked with bread hand crafted in a yurt on the south downs by a former investment banker, filled with bionergetic cheese topped with lemony lettuce individually torn, then we have lots of places.  But you might pay a lot of money.

When thinking of buying anything in Lewes always ask:

  • How were the people who produced it treated?

  • How far has it come to get here?

  • How much does it cost?

If the answers to all these questions aren’t right spend your money elsewhere.

Your best bet may be to buy some food and eat a picnic in Southover Grange Gardens or on the Railway Land Nature Reserve

Here are some places to buy your picnic:

  • Lewes Fruit stores- a traditional fruit and veg shop in Western Road, about half a mile from the centre of the town, has the best selection.

  • Laportes in Landsdowne Place and Bills in the High Street both have a limited selection of (often local) fruit and veg, but watch the prices.

  • The Friday food market in the Market Tower, Market Street every Friday morning has a wide selection of things to eat.

  • The Farmers Market in the pedestrianised part of the shopping precinct on the first Saturday morning of each month also has food you can eat without cooking.

  • The Sunday morning car boot sale behind Waitrose also has food outlets.

  • Pleasant Stores at 8 Mount Pleasant, and sells fresh bread, milk, homemade cakes, good coffee and other groceries

  • Cheese Please at 46 High Street sells local cheese and bread.

  • Harvey’s shop in Cliffe High Street sells beer and lots of wine, including local wines.

  • Lewes Patisserie does good bread from Hove and savouries and sweet baked goods from nearby, and has a teashop.


If you want someone else to prepare your food here are some personal favourites of mine:

  • John Harvey Tavern- on the riverside behind Bills Cafe, day times and evenings- beer from 100 metres away and good food.

  • Laportes, Lansdowne Place-daytimes- upper class food at middle class price

PUBS

With Harvey’s beer brewed in the town you should drink local.  Most local pubs have their own enthusiasts, but any pub selling Harvey’s beer should not disappoint you.

SOMETHING TO DO

The first place to visit is the tourist information centre on the corner of the High Street and Fisher Street which has details of the many local attractions and bus timetables.

For local events visit Viva Lewes our local internet listings magazine.

You can get walking guides from the tourist information centre and I have some details of walks on this site Here is a description of a walk around the town..

You can also find information about cycling on this site including local cycle rides.

GETTING AROUND

The whole of the rest of this web site is dedicated to helping you get around the area sustainably and affordably.  But if you do not have time to read it all here are three simple tips:

  • One of the best train tickets is available from the tourist office, not the railway station.  They are called day save tickets

  • On the buses you can get a different type of day saver ticket

  • If you just want to get around town you can get a Lewes day bus ticket

WALK LEWES!

Lewes Town Partnership have produced a walking map for Lewes.  It covers walking in Lewes and also how to get to and from Lewes and the South Downs Way.  Here it is.

THINGS THEY MIGHT NOT TELL YOU

Here is some information about Lewes that you might not be able to find out from other sources:

  • Lewes has its own town council, which is the equivalent of a parish council elsewhere. This is controlled by the Liberal Democrats, with Green and Independent opposition.

  • It is also part of a district council called “Lewes” which includes Peacehaven, Newhaven, Seaford, Ringmer and much of the surrounding countryside. Lewes District was controlled by the Liberal Democrats for many years but went conservative in the general disillusion with the Lib-Dems in 2011.

  • There is a worryingly high proportion of residents who think it is a good idea to call their children names like “Tarquin” or “Jemima”.  There are even incidences of “Sky”.

  • At the last census 22% of the population of the district had no access to a car.In the same census the area had the tenth highest proportion of the population identifying as lesbian or gay in the country. However there is no generally advertised lesbian or gay life in the town that you can join in.  This is probably because Brighton is so near.

  • Lewes was the first place in the country to have a Men Against Sexism Group, in 1972.

  • The Lewes Member of Parliament, Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, is a junior transport minister in the current coalition government.  Amongst other things he is responsible for cycling and buses.

  • Although Lewes is famous for its bonfire you will have a better time visiting the very many other bonfires that take place in Sussex in the autumn.  The event in Lewes is so big that you can get lost in it.  There is no accommodation available for miles, public transport either stops or is impossible to get on and, if you are not with a local you can miss most of the activity.  The smaller societies in other towns and villages let you get closer to the real atmosphere

  • .Although the town looks and is affluent, this is not the whole story.  Many people either commute to London, run small businesses or work in the public sector.  If you cannot do any of these then getting work can be hard, with care or retail work being often the best alternatives.  While we have London costs of living, local firms tend to pay provincial wages. Wages of £240 per week are common.A glance in the windows of estate agents will give you an idea of house prices.  With prices starting at £150,000 plus for a one bedroomed flat and one third of the council housing in the district sold off because tenants have the right to buy their homes, finding housing that you can afford can be very difficult.