Dunes, relics and ruins

Camber Sands is just over the road, flying the Blue Flag above its endless dunes. Further afield, there’s Britain’s only desert at Wild West Dungeness, pig-racing at Ashton Rare Breeds, and the relics and ruins of 1066 Country. Eat at Whitstable’s Michelin-starred Sportsman and drink at Olde Worlde Wines in Rye.

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Kids ahoy!

It all begins over the road at Camber Sands, with seven miles of Blue Flag beaches, blue seas and friendly blue skies. Hide-and-seek or picnic among the dunes, dig the sands, or run your dog in and out of the waves in winter. Head to Winchelsea to swim in the sea.

Kids can scoot along the harbour paths at Rye, or walk the cliffs and hunt for fossils at Fairlight. Head to Hastings for the aquarium, funfair and crazy golf, and buy fresh fish straight from the shacks or off the boats that launch from the beach. Drive to Dungeness to see Britain’s only desert – like the Wild West but with a lighthouse.

Sail or bathe from Greatstone Beach, a best-kept secret and mini-Camber without the crowds. Steam along the 10-mile Kent and East Sussex railway line between Tenterden and Bodiam, and explore the castle and railway museum.

At Ashford Rare Breeds Centre, you can start with the pig racing, learn how to plant and produce your own food, hit the swings and hill forts, ride the aerial runway and picnic in the woodlands. Finally, at Smugglers’ Adventure in Hastings, acres of caverns conceal the thrilling history of bootleggers and bloodthirsty gangs.

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For the grown ups

This is 1066 country, with coast and countryside scattered with relics and ruins from the past, so you can live history at every turn. Or take a guided shipwreck tour around the old Amsterdam merchant ship, the coastline, the prehistoric forest and the Cretaceous rocks.

There are castles to conquer at Rye, Hastings and Camber, a nature reserve at Rye, or climb Ypres Tower Museum for views of France and Romney Marsh. Get closer to the real Rye at the heritage centre, and catch unique magic, storytelling and shows at the Theatre of Wonder.

Along the coast, Margate is cool once more, hometown of Tracey Emin and buzzing with the Turner Contemporary Gallery and the reopening of Dreamland amusement park. Pop to Whitstable for the pretty beach huts and the Michelin-starred Sportsman for braised brill fillet or maple-cured pork loin.

There’s theatre on offer at The Stables and White Rock, a digital cinema at Electric Palace in Hastings’ Old Town and a cosy big screen-small screen experience at Kino Rye. And for great wine and beer at good prices teamed with delicious, messy, hand-held street food, it has to be Olde Worlde Wines in Rye.

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