Posted 4 December 2015 by Andrew Gardner
Year-round opening is a handy thing when you opt for an off-peak holiday. Add to that a fab castle in a pretty Sussex town where you can also do your Christmas shopping and find a tasty tea-shop in which to recharge your batteries, and I reckon you're onto a winner.
So I'm going to recommend a trip to Lewes, which at this time of year has settled down after the Bonfire Night shenanigans and reverted to being a great place for all the family. The charming streets are lined with historic buildings, many of which are home to delightful shops and eateries. The views are lovely enough from the town, but if you can climb the castle keep - or keeps, since there are two of them - they are simply glorious, looking out over the South Downs National Park and particularly towards Firle Beacon. Information signs at lookout points in the castle help you imagine the surrounding countryside as it was in medieval times, while you can also make out the line of the old racecourse, which closed down in 1964.
The views from Lewes Castle also put the town's history into perspective - you gain some understanding of why it's been so self-contained when you see how it nestles into its own bowl in the Downs.
But aside from the obvious tourist attractions it's the quirky little nuggets I love best, and here's my favourite: the Castle Bowling Green is apparently the lumpiest bowling green in the country. It's been there, on the former tilting ground, since at least 1640, which would explain a lot. In all fairness, and before local members get cross, I'm sure the green will have been improved and beautifully maintained since then, but I'm quite sure I saw that snippet on an information sign up on the keep, although I've since been unable to corroborate it. So the only way to check it out is to go visit Lewes! And what easier way to do that than from one of our gorgeous South Downs cottage hideaways (click here) or our wonderful holiday lets in East Sussex (click here)?