Exploring The Creative Coast: Five Must-Visit Coastal Pubs

England's South East coast is a region often celebrated for its natural beauty, rich history, and creative spirit. From picturesque beaches to historic landmarks, this stretch of coastline has always been a magnet for artists, writers, and dreamers. So if you’re planning a journey along the Creative Coast, allow us to guide you through some of the finest country pubs that epitomize the heart and soul of this enchanting region, plus what you can do nearby.


1. The Oystercatcher, Littlehampton

Nestled in the charming village of Climping, The Oystercatcher is, like all of the pubs we’re visiting for this blog, a part of the Vintage Inns family. It’s a quintessential country pub that promises an unforgettable dining experience. Built on the site of a former private house, The Oystercatcher has since become a beloved local landmark.

As you step inside, you'll be greeted by a cozy ambiance and rustic wooden beams. The pub's extensive menu features hearty favourites and seasonal dishes crafted with the freshest local ingredients. Whether you're savouring a perfectly cooked Sunday roast or indulging in a refreshing British gin, there's something to delight every palate. And on a sunny day, enjoy your meal in the beautifully landscaped gardens, just a stone's throw from Climping Beach, where golden sands meet the gentle waves of the English Channel – it’s a perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a serene afternoon picnic. History enthusiasts will find nearby Arundel Castle irresistible; this magnificent medieval fortress and beautifully manicured gardens is really a must-see. For those seeking a touch of nature's tranquillity, the Arundel Wetland Centre promises a great day out, with its diverse birdlife and peaceful waterways creating a haven for wildlife lovers. Whether you're exploring the quaint streets of Littlehampton, with its charming shops and cafés, or embarking on a scenic coastal bike ride, the area surrounding The Oystercatcher is rich with experiences that celebrate both nature and heritage, ensuring your visit is nothing short of memorable.

The Swallows Return, Ferring

A short drive along the coast will bring you to The Swallows Return in Ferring, a pub that effortlessly blends historical charm with modern comfort. Housed in a converted barn, this pub exudes a warm, welcoming atmosphere that invites you to unwind and soak in the surroundings.

The Swallows Return is renowned for its diverse menu, featuring classic pub fare and innovative dishes that cater to all tastes. The chefs take pride in using locally sourced ingredients to create mouthwatering meals, from succulent steaks to flavourful vegetarian options. Complement your meal with a selection from their impressive range of cask ales and fine wines. After a satisfying meal, take a leisurely stroll along the nearby coastal paths to fully appreciate the scenic beauty of Ferring.

Be sure to visit the tranquil Ferring Beach or nearby Highdown Gardens, both of which offers a escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. History aficionados will relish a visit to the nearby Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, where local artifacts and stunning exhibitions blend to tell the story of the region's rich past. And if you're in the mood for some light-hearted fun, head over to Worthing Pier; its amusement arcades and classic seaside treats capture the nostalgic spirit of the English coast. There’s really no shortage of things to see and do near The Swallows Return.

The Crown & Greyhound

The Cuckmere Inn, Seaford

Perched on the banks of the Cuckmere River, The Cuckmere Inn offers breathtaking views and a serene dining experience. The pub's location makes it a perfect starting point for exploring the South Downs National Park or taking a leisurely boat trip along the river. Whether you're enjoying a hearty meal indoors or dining al fresco with the river as your backdrop, The Cuckmere Inn is sure to leave a lasting impression1.

You could begin your adventure at Seven Sisters Country Park, where you’ll find sprawling chalk cliffs and lush meadows - perfect for hiking, cycling, or simply soaking in the views. For a touch of history, Seaford Museum offers fascinating insights into the region's past, with exhibits ranging from maritime artifacts to local memorabilia. Alternatively, if you’re a nature lover, the nearby Cuckmere Haven is a must-visit — its gentle river meanders through a serene valley, creating a haven for birdwatchers and those seeking a tranquil retreat. And don’t forget to explore Seaford Head Golf Course, where the fairways provide not only a challenging game but also panoramic views of the coast – plus you could opt for The Cuckmere Inn as the 19th hole.

4. The Beachy Head, Eastbourne

For those who crave panoramic coastal views, The Beachy Head in Eastbourne is a must-visit destination. Situated atop the iconic cliffs, this pub offers unparalleled vistas of the English Channel and the surrounding countryside.

The actual Beachy Head (from which the pub has unsurprisingly taken its name) is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, where the English Channel stretches out before you – it’s well worth checking out. Alternatively, just a short distance away, you'll discover the serene beauty of the South Downs National Park, which is the perfect escape for hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts alike. Or, for a touch of cultural immersion, head to the Towner Art Gallery where you’ll find thought-provoking contemporary art. If history piques your interest, the nearby Redoubt Fortress offers a tangible link to the past that’s also well worth a visit, or pop along to Eastbourne Pier for a quintessential seaside experience where you’ll find classic and more modern amusements living side by side.

The Crown & Greyhound

5. The Smugglers Rest, Peacehaven

Last but certainly not least, The Smugglers Rest in Peacehaven is a pub steeped in history and intrigue. As its name suggests, this pub has a storied past linked to the smuggling trade that once thrived along the south coast of England. When visiting The Smugglers Rest, you can also take in the dramatic Peacehaven Cliffs or nearby Peacehaven Meridian Monument, which marks the Prime Meridian’s passage through the town.

For those who relish a more leisurely pace, the picturesque Telscombe Tye offers a pastoral escape where you might spot some of the local wild ponies grazing. History enthusiasts will find the nearby Newhaven Fort fascinating, which offers a real step-back-in-time experience.

England's South East coast is a treasure trove of history, natural beauty, and culinary delights. The five pubs we've highlighted - The Oystercatcher, The Swallows Return, The Cuckmere Inn, The Beachy Head, and The Smugglers Rest - each offer a unique glimpse into the region's charm and hospitality. Whether you're a local resident or a visitor, these pubs provide the perfect setting to relax, enjoy delicious food and drink, and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the Creative Coast. So why not plan your next outing to one of these delightful pubs and experience the best that the South East Coast has to offer?