South Downs holiday thatched cottage, England

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: South Downs holiday thatched cottage, England


Michael and Kitty were prime movers in setting up the Alfriston and Cuckmere Valley Historical Society. The society supports the preservation of historic structures, holds events and organizes walks and talks relating to the history, geography, archeology and culture of the area.
In 2004 Michael and Kitty helped organise a major community event to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the village being granted its Market Charter.

Michael was invited by East Sussex County Council and Transport 2000 in 2001
to chair a five year project to encourage sustainable tourism in the eastern part of the Sussex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Called "Tourism Without Traffic" the project had three goals: 1. To create an alternative transport network to the car. 2. To reduce the impact of traffic and create a more alternative environment for walking and cycling. 3. To promote the green tourism agenda.

Today Michael and Kitty are still involved in encouraging their guests to use the very reasonable train and bus network locally. Danny Cottage is ideally situated for walking and cycling holidays.

Danny Cottage is home to badgers, foxes and rabbits and is surrounded by fields of cows, sheep and horses.

Our guests are given full details about local recycling and are encouraged to respect the countryside.

Signs are placed by each washbasin reminding guests that water is precious.

The guests have full control of the heating system but we set it on a programme of twice a day. Logs for the wood burner come from a sustainable source.

Brochures in the cottage and the website have information about local buses and trains, especially those dedicated to tourists. Berwick Station is the nearest train station and Michael and Kitty are happy to collect guest when given plenty of notice The local community bus runs a regular schedule throughout the valley stopping in Alfriston. There are also buses connecting with the village outside of the village.


Michael and Kitty are proud of all that is on offer in their local community (especially to visitors) - recreation, services, and amenities. Alfriston, the medieval village 10 minutes away, has always been a village that welcomes visitors. Michael and Kitty encourage guests to use the local privately owned grocers, restaurants, shops and services.

All of the shop keepers know Danny Cottage and give a special welcome to the guests. The Village Store and Post Office stocks all the goods, dry and fresh, that are needed for a stay. Each day three local artisan bakers deliver fresh baked bread and the cheese counter offers more than six unique local Sussex cheeses.

The local walks suggested by Michael and Kitty all take in a pub, restaurant, shop or site of special interest along the way:

It takes only a leisurely 15 minutes to amble across the fields to Alfriston for your daily paper and freshly baked bread. In under an hour you can walk to your choice of the six pubs nearby for a delicious lunch or supper, five of them serving our famous local Harvey's Ale from Lewes's Brewery. In two or three hours you can ascend to the top of the Downs and stand in awe, taking in the incredible views to the English Channel or inland across the wooded Weald of Sussex.

A favourite walk leads from the cottage along The South Downs Way to Firle, a tranquil village where it seems time has stood still, with an imposing stately home still lived in by the Squire and his family. The real reason for this fabulous walk is to have a memorable lunch at the village pub, The Ram, which of course serves Harvey's beer!


There is not a part of the local Downs that Michael does not know and love and his greatest joy is to share it with others.

In 2011/12 Michael set up "The Friends of the Cuckmere" to: 1. To provide volunteering opportunities for local people to actively engage with their local countryside. 2. To help promote interest and increase understanding of the Cuckmere Valley and estuary. 3. To promote a culture of responsible enjoyment and stewardship of the Cuckmere.

Danny Cottage lies back from a peaceful winding lane only a short walk from the village of Alfriston. This village is known for being one of the prettiest villages in England, there are houses dating as far back as the 14th century. The beautiful church is also known as the ‘Cathedral of the South Downs' and is set on the banks of the Cuckmere River which meanders its way for a few miles, coming in to the sea at the bottom of the breath taking Seven Sisters' cliffs. Smugglers used the river in the 18th Century to transport their contraband inland to Alfriston for distribution around the country. The village still boasts three pubs - it seems that smuggling was thirsty work! The Cuckmere Valley appeals to visitors with a variety of tastes and interests.

One of our favourite walks can take you to the little village of Jevington, passing The Long Man of Wilmington on the way, or through the Lullington Heath Nature Reserve and down into Friston Forest, coming out at the ancient hamlet of Westdean and up on to the crest of the hill where the view across the Cuckmere River, as it meanders to the sea, will take your breath away.

The South Downs are specially kind to walkers because they have a unique springy turf due to being grazed very tight by Southdown sheep for centuries. They say one can walk great distances without tiring. The Downs are fit for walking all year round because the hills fall steeply to the valley floor and the chalky ground does not retain water for long, so the paths are dry even in Winter. Our friends living on the clay soil of The Weald to the north come down here to walk their dog from Autumn through to Spring as they don't need to wear their wellies.

For these reasons the Downs provide the perfect place for the whole family to go on walks together. They are a safe training ground for the children to enjoy walking and appreciate the great outdoors.

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