South and east of London are the kinder, gentler countrysides of Hampshire, Sussex, Essex and Kent, with rolling green rambler-friendly Downs and cathedral spires soaring over woodsy thickets and bramble bushes, before dwindling to the curvy coast and chalky cliffs of the English Channel.
Chalk downlands, fecund valleys, swathes of rolling hills and a coastline resplendent with maritime history: ignore Hampshire at your peril. It is one of England's loveliest yet least known counties. Jane Austen was born and died here, lived at Chawton and was buried in Winchester Cathedral
East Sussex is home to the London magnet of Brighton, West Sussex is dreamy - think Bosham, Arundel and those Downs. Both Sussexes are fruitful corners for seekers of shingle beaches, stylish antique shops and beautiful clapboard houses.