West Sussex is officially the sunniest spot in UK according to The Met Office, and the historic market town of Arundel with its stunning castle, surrounded by the breathtaking landscape of the South Downs, being just 45mins. from London is the perfect place to stay and enjoy!
For a great family welcome stay at Portreeves. Superbly located self catering & B&B accommodation on the river, just a 4 minute walk from Arundel town centre, castle entrance, and mainline station. Complimentary parking, and dog friendly it is a family run business offering great value, well presented accommodation. You can conveniently check-in just after lunch, to make the most of the weekend. The children can explore the lovely half acre garden before walking along the river bank into town, where there is an array of attractions, independent shops, galleries, restaurants, cafés and bars something for the whole family to enjoy!
A good introduction to the town is the Arundel Museum, located in a contemporary flint faced building by the river opposite the lower castle entrance, this small but interesting museum is run by knowledgeable friendly volunteers. With a balance of iterative activities and artefacts it will keep the children amused with puzzles, models, dressing up and trails. The gift shop is a find, good value and not stocked with the usual plastic tat!
Time for refreshment? Right in the heart of the town square is The Red Lion, a traditional, friendly, family pub serving a full range of beers and ciders on tap, interesting guest ales from craft breweries in West Sussex, plenty of choice to quench a thirst. With a sheltered sunny beer garden and food served all day, until 9pm. The menu is full of locally sourced Sussex produce.
For a further tour of the town centre visit some of the interesting independent shops. Up the hill in the castle wall is The Book Ferret, a 16th. Century enchanting place with a welcoming children’s section, and range of books, and beautiful gifts. You may even sneak a peak at the Whippets hiding under their blanket.
Cross the road to Tarrant Street to check out the range of beautiful clothes, toys and gifts for children in Squibbly Biskit, over 2 floors in The Old Candle Factory…. tucked in the corner of Tarrant Square and Old Printing Works.
For an old fashion sweet shop experience, pop across the street to Castle Chocolates.
If there is time, and excess energy, take a late afternoon stroll along the dappled Mill Road, following the East wing of the castle. Meet the ducks and swans along the castle moat, maybe look out for a shy water vole. Stop off at the play park for a go on the swings, before heading back to Portreeves to get ready for dinner. Perhaps there is time for an aperitif in the garden?
Friday evening …..
There are a huge range of restaurants for a town the size of Arundel. Check out the menus of these long established, family run restaurants. For authentic Italian Pappardelle Ristorante and Osteria, kids menus available, for more grown up palettes the extensive menu of La Campania, China Palace boasting the best ceiling in Arundel, or the buzzing atmosphere and beautiful interiors of Butlers.
Saturday….. History & fun!
After a comfortable night, and maybe breakfast on the deck? An absolute must is a visit to the magnificent Arundel Castle. Once through the entrance lodge, you can walk through the sensational grounds towards the towering castle. If arriving early explore the gardens first, as main castle opens from 12 noon. There are 40 acres of tranquil grounds and inspiring gardens, including the amazing Oberon’s Palace, the backdrop to the incredible Collector Earl´s Gardens. Once inside the main entrance, head for the Norman Keep, Medieval Gatehouse and Barbican to experience the oldest parts of the castle. This is where the whole family can have fun learning about our castle’s sieges with interactive exhibits, games and costumes. Learn about the stunning Gothic interior of the main house from the knowledgeable, friendly guides, visit the castle bedrooms, it is a family home as well! This is an easy way to spend 3 – 4 hours, but if there is an historical event on there could be archery, falconry and even jousting demonstrated by costumed characters where you could be entertained for the entire day.
For lunch, why not grab a picnic take out? There are lots to choose from, warmed pastries, delicious sausage rolls, home-made quiche, freshly made sandwiches, toasties, bagels, salads and olives. Amazing fruity yoghurt topped flapjacks, indulgent brownies, freshly made fudge or even Sussex Craggy Roosters!
Purchases made head for an afternoon splash in the last remaining Lido in West Sussex. Arundel Lido has 2 lifeguarded, heated open air pools, situated in landscaped grounds with grass, trees, shaded areas, picnic tables, loungers and parasols. Great family fun!
The day is not complete without ice cream, visit The Parlour in Tarrant St. for a unique experience and an indulgent quirky dessert, it´s open late, and you can´t miss it!
It has been a busy day, so BBQ in the garden, luckily the Co-op is on-route to pick up the necessary provisions. The children playing on the trampoline, until time for bed, then sit back, relax by the fire-pit and enjoy a bottle of wine picked up from Pallant of Arundel from their quality collection.
Sunday …. Exploring Nature and the Outdoors!
Take the Circular Walk past the ancient Parish Church, and magnificent Gothic style Cathedral, through Arundel Park heading down to the beautiful Swanbourne Boating Lake, with its backdrop of cliffs and trees. Continue East to the superb Arundel Wetland Centre (WWT) where the family can spot kingfishers from the boat safari, hand feed geese at World Wetlands and stroll gentle, quiet paths through reed-bed and woodland to see over 40 species of wildfowl from round the world! The kids will love the play areas too!
Continue a little further to The Black Rabbit at South Stoke. It is the perfect waterside pub. Situated on the banks of the River Arun with stunning views over the wet lands to Arundel Castle. There is plenty of outside seating areas directly overlooking the water, family friendly with a children´s play area, and inside a boat from the Harry Potter film The Philosophers Stone.
Walk along the river bank back to town, or rejoin Mill Road via the tranquil Mill Stream, where you can visit Mill Road Leisure, for a round of putting on the beautifully maintained 18 hole course and a yummy cake from the café.
Sunday evening, all that walking, must be hungry…..
For a tasty evening meal eat at The Burger Shop (TBS), a quirky restaurant in the old bank building in the High Street. Sit in the bank vault, or looking out the huge windows onto the town square. Sample the amazing bespoke burgers, craft beers and cocktails, using the best British produce. There are vegan and vegetarian options, but can particularly recommend The Mac Attack and The Chicken Rooster, with loaded chilli fries!
by Jo Johnstone at Portreeves