Like so many of the southeast’s seaside resorts, EASTBOURNE was kick-started into life in the 1840s, when the Brighton, Lewes and Hastings Rail Company built a branch line from Lewes to the sea. Nowadays Eastbourne has a solid reputation as a retirement town by the sea, and though the relocated state-of-the-art Towner Gallery has introduced a welcome splash of modernity, the town’s charms remain for the most part sedate and old-fashioned. The focus of the elegant seafront is the pier, one of the grandest on the south coast, jutting out from its long promenade. The real draw, however, is the stunning coastal scenery of the nearby South Downs, just a short walk away.

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