Dungeness is a wild, remote stretch of shingle, where hardy homeowners, rare birdlife and a massive power station live in harmony. Visit the lighthouse, covet the innovative architecture, see Derek Jarman’s renowned coastal garden (pictured) and ride the miniature railway. Time your visit to enjoy a lobster roll at the Dungeness Snack Shack.
Camber Sands is a huge, glorious stretch of sand, backed by massive dunes, just 4 miles away, or less if you walk/cycle. Take a bucket and spade, learn to kitesurf, play hide-and-seek in the dunes or just sit outside the beach cafes with a cup of tea and watch the world go by.
There’s a regular bus service from Rye to Camber Sands so you don’t need a car to get there from the town.
Winchelsea Beach is a large shingle beach, on the opposite bank of the River Rother to Camber Sands, accessed via Rye Harbour. It’s generally much quieter than Camber. Keep walking west and you’ll get to the beach at Pett Level, with Hastings and its sheer cliffs at the end.
The South of England Rare Breeds Centre, Woodchurch has trailer rides, an aviary, creepy-crawly world, a hill fort, aerial runway, and lots more, including tons of animals from shire horses to guinea pigs. In summer there are pig races every day, with children divided into teams to race alongside.
The Kent & East Sussex Railway runs between Tenterden and Bodiam; it’s fun any time, but there are periodic family-friendly days such as days out with Thomas the Tank Engine and Santa Specials at Christmas. Visit the website for timetables and dates of service.
Climb the turrets of this 14th-century moated castle (owned by the National Trust) with ruined interior. It’s a great place for children to let off steam – buy them a wooden sword in the shop, then let them run riot.
Bodiam station is a stop on the Kent and East Sussex Railway; you can walk the quarter of a mile from the station to the castle itself. The Bodiam Boating Station is also close by, for hiring a row-boat, kayak or SUP.
The atmospheric Jacobean home of Rudyard Kipling, who lived here from 1902 until his death in 1936.
Kipling regarded Bateman’s as a place of sanctuary; with its mellow sandstone architecture and tranquil garden, it’s easy to fathom why. The house is a memorial to the writer, left as he and his wife lived in it, and includes letters, memorabilia and Kipling’s library, where he would write.
Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry’s 16th-century timbered home. Some of her amazing theatrical costumes are on show, there’s a sweet cottage garden, and it’s virtually opposite the excellent Chapel Down vineyard if you want to stock up on local food and drink while you’re here.