Things to do

Health and wellbeing

Slowing down and spending time in nature can ease anxiety, strengthen our immune systems and give us a sense of calm, and The Living Coast is rich with opportunities to do just this. Here are a few ways you can take advantage of what our biosphere offers.

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1. Bathe in green space

Surround yourself with nature and let it work its magic. Fortunately, it’s easy to do in The Living Coast where you can choose between shady parks and woodlands or wild wide-open spaces. Besides getting out into the South Downs National Park, there are plenty of urban options too. Walk, cycle, picnic or just sit and let it wash over you. If you fancy a more guided approach, there are forest bathing, foraging and many other wellbeing workshops to choose from.

Bench with a view at Devil's Dyke

Some top green spots

Preston Park
Brighton’s largest urban park with plenty of oxygen-giving trees

Stanmer Park
Open green spaces and calm, shady woodlands accessible by bus.

East Brighton Park
Wide-open space and large wildflower meadows.

Castle Hill National Nature Reserve
Rolling hilly countryside near Woodingdean.

Devil’s Dyke
Great views across the Downs and the sea and accessible by bus.

Wolstonbury Hill
A National Trust site with woodland and open meadows.

Mill Hill Local Nature Reserve
Wonderful open chalk grasslands north of Shoreham.

Castle Hill Local Nature Reserve
A wild site above the cliffs just west of Newhaven.

2. Spend time by the water

Just being near water has a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. Whether you walk besides a river or the sea, make yourself comfortable on a bench with a watery view, or lie on the shingle listening to the waves, you can tap into the calm energy of moving water. On a stormy day the sea viewed from a distance can be just as mesmerising, the energy entirely different.

Children rockpooling on Sussex coast

A few watery locations

River Adur
Follow the Downslink Path along wide, gentle curves of the river from Shoreham-by-Sea towards Bramber.

Shoreham Beach
Visit this local nature reserve to appreciate the wildlife of the vegetated shingle and expansive sea views from the accessible boardwalk.

The Undercliff
Stroll or cycle from Brighton Marina to Saltdean between the sea and  the bottom of the white chalk cliffs.

River Ouse
Follow the Egret’s Way along the banks of the River Ouse from Lewes towards the coast.

Lewes Railway Land Wildlife Trust
Enjoy the Ouse, the Winterbourne stream and the ponds of this urban reserve in the centre of Lewes.

3. Take the plunge

Cold water therapy and outdoor swimming to benefit your health have a long history in The Living Coast. Sea swimming was popularised by local physician Dr Richard Russell in the late 18th century. He prescribed daily sea bathing as well as drinking sea water for certain illnesses, although this is no longer recommended! The popularity of his treatment transformed the fishing village of Brighthelmstone into a Victorian seaside resort.

Besides the refreshing waters of the English Channel to enjoy all along the coast, there are the cool spring-fed waters of Pell’s Pool in Lewes, the oldest existing freshwater outdoor swimming pool in the UK, and the Saltdean Lido, a heated Art Deco lido overlooking the sea.

People and a dog coming out of water after a swim

4. Gaze into the night sky

Few spaces open up room to breathe and wonder like the night sky. The South Downs National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), which means light pollution levels need to be controlled. Check the moon, pack a flask and wrap up warmly before you head up to the Downs to stare into space.

three person sitting on grass during golden hour

5. Get your hands dirty

Across The Living Coast there are opportunities to get into green spaces and grow things or help nature flourish. From community gardens to rewilding projects, by volunteering outdoors you can connect with people and nature while experiencing all the benefits of being active and outdoors.

One of the sign for the England Coast Path on the seafront of The Living Coast

6. Learn a traditional skill or craft

Making things with your hands brings so many wonderful benefits. And by learning a traditional craft or skill you get to connect with the environment and culture that inspired them. Experiment with handicrafts like weaving or spinning, or perhaps something more physical like building with straw bales or you may prefer something you can use in everyday life like foraging or learning about medicinal herbs. Stanmer Park is a hub for many of these activities.

Young person looking at plants

7. Wonder at local wildlife

Thousands of species of plants, birds, animals and insects inhabit The Living Coast. Appreciating them can ground us mentally and strengthen our connection to nature. From observing the rabbits, butterflies and skylarks on the Downs, to discovering what’s hidden in a single rockpool, to marvelling at the diversity of life flitting across the surface of a river. There’s so much to see.

Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate The Living Coast, the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere Region includes land and sea from Shoreham to Newhaven.  Castle Hill Nature Reserve Newhaven

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