Five walks – from 3.5 miles to 8 miles, including The Royal Military Canal and Fairlight Cove
Two cycle rides of 5 and 12 miles, the former a short circular ride between Winchelsea and historic Rye
Many good pubs and tea rooms along the way on most walks
Historic attraction featured in one walk – Camber Castle with many historic sites in Winchelsea and Rye
This excellent guide contains seven walking and bike routes for you to explore around historic Winchelsea in the far East of Sussex.
Created by Edward I in 1288 as a replacement for Old Winchelsea, which washed away during heavy storms, the town of Winchelsea sits atop Iham Hill, overlooking The Channel and the Brede Valley. A harbour was built and Winchelsea grew swiftly on timber exports and wine imports in the 14th century, as well as on fishing, smuggling and piracy. Butt less than a century after the harbour was built, the sea began to retreat. The harbour and fortunes of the town fell into decline as merchants moved away. French and Spanish raids further depleted the populace despite the fortified gates and ramparts, and Winchelsea never fully recovered.
The threat of invasion remained during the Napoleonic war, when the Royal Military Canal was built, walk one in the booklet.
Today, Winchelsea is a quiet place but its colourful history still resonates from its ancient buildings, church and stone town gates.
These two walks together take in the principal sites associated with the Battle of Lewes in 1264. Conflict between King John and his Barons over issues of high taxes and justice led to the Sealing of the Magna Carta in June 1215 at Runnymede. Nearly fifty years later those issues surfaced again. The result was the Battle of Lewes and Simon de Montfort’s first true Parliament. The Battle took place mainly on the Downs above Lewes where King Henry III, his son Prince Edward (later King Edward I), his brother Richard Earl of Cornwall and loyal barons fought against Simon de Montfort, his sons and the rebel barons.
The battlefield walk takes you up on the Downs at Landport Bottom, with views over Lewes, whilst the Town Centre walks takes in visits to Lewes Castle and the Priory, where Henery’s men satyed the night before Battle.
pub and cafes in Hassocks and Hurstpierpoint (small detour to High Street – try the New Inn), Jack and Jill at Clayton
accessible by bus and train
Easy but much of the route is likely to be muddy, particularly during the winter months, as it is mainly through low-lying farmland, where there may be animals grazing.
I would recommend diverting through Butchers Wood shortly after the start of the walk rather than sticking to the main path, especially during the spring for bluebells and wild flowers (but again often muddy).
Along the way, you will pass the castellated turrets above the entrance to Clayton Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the London to Brighton line at over 1 mile long.
With fine views towards Wolstonbury Hill and the Downs, you will also pass Danny House. In the Great Hall of this magnificent (but private) Elizabethan mansion, the terms for the armistice at the end of the First World War were drawn up and Lloyd George and his Cabinet held many meetings here.
This is Walk 4 of the ‘Circular Walks Around Hassocks’ series of walks by the Hassocks Community Partnership. See also Butcher’s Wood Walk.
A fine circular walk from Chichester Marina through fields with Chichester cathedral in the distance, before heading down to the harbour at Dell Quay to return towards the Marina along the waterside with fine harbour views, before finally also taking in Chichester canal.
The Marina was opened in 1966, can berth over 1000 boats and is the second largest marina in the country. The canal runs from the city of Chichester down to the Harbour and opened in 1823 as part of a larger canal scheme to carry cargo between London and Portsmouth.
Halfway, the 16th century Crown & Anchor at Dell Quay is an excellent harbour side pub whilst the stylish Boat House Cafe at Chichester Marina offers good value fayre.
Passes medieval Michelham Priory with its water filled moat (though perhaps visit another day!)
Also passes Arlington Stadium which hosts banger racing and speedway which may disturb the peace somewhat every now and then! (Eastbourne Speedway)
Berwick Station is just a little south of the walk’s starting point
A varied walk with fine views towards the Downs. There are excellent bluebell woods along the way at Abbots Wood and the less well known Bramble Grove, and you also have the chance to visit (and pay to enter) the Arlington Bluebell Walk. Arlington Reservoir at the start and end, is a large nature reserve where you can view waterfowl and other wildlife. Most of the walk is through what was the vast dominion by Michelham Priory, which dates back to 1229 and is surrounded by England’s longest water-filled moat.
infrequent buses to Bignor Roman Villa – check Villa website.
Situated beneath the downs and discovered by a ploughman in 1811, Bignor Roman Villa features various fine mosaics, depicting scenes of gladiators and representations of Venus and Medusa, and are housed under thatched Georgian buildings built to protect them.
Bignor Hill from Bignor Roman Villa
Running across Bignor Hill, where the walk begins, is Stane Street, a Roman road constructed about 70ad to connect the port of Chichester with London. From the 737ft hill there are very fine views across the rural Sussex landscape. The walk descends down to the village of Sutton where you pass a picturesque wealden house. You then have the chance to visit the Roman Villa, and perhaps pop into the White Hart in preparation for the climb through woodland back up to the start.
Hare and Hounds pub if you choose one of the walks starting in/passing through Stoughton. Barley Mow, Walderton on Downland Churches walk.
Kingley Vale is a spooky and spectacular hillside to the north west of Chichester, the highlight being a rare yew forest which covers much of its southern slopes.
The age and history of the yew trees at Kingley Vale was researched extensively by ecologist Sir Arthur Tansley, who lobbied hard for years for something to be done for the protection of this special habitat, and finally in 1952, Kingley Vale was named as one of the first National Nature Reserves in the country. A number of the trees are at least 500 years old, possibly much older. Sir Arthur’s contribution is marked by a memorial stone near the top of Bow Hill.
Within the National Nature Reserve there is a discreetly signposted nature trail organised by English Nature, offering great views, both to the north and the south.
Bow Hill, which forms part of Kingley Vale, is topped by The Devils Humps, four Bronze Age barrows.
There are all sorts of stories of strange comings and goings on Kingley Vale, with stories of ghostly marching legions of Romans and a band of Vikings whose warlike spirits still maraud in the woodland.
The Stoughton to Kingley Vale walk is a steep climb rewarded with spectacular views of South Coast and spire of Chichester Cathedral. It passes the top of the Nature Reserve taking in the Devil’s Humps.
Terrain: easy, can be slippery in places when wet, no stiles
This is a circular walk through more than 2000 years of local history with some very scenic views of the River Arun and the South Downs. Highlights include St Botolph’s Church at Hardham with its medieval wall paintings and Old Stopham Bridge, a medieval bridge with seven arches was built in 1309 to provide a secure crossing of the river for the road from Winchester to Canterbury. The picturesque White Hart is right beside the bridge. You will also walk along the route of the old Roman road, Stane Street.
St Botolph’s Church has one the earliest nearly complete series of wall paintings in the whole country, and is one of the Lewes Group of churches which includes churches with other outstanding wall paintings at Clayton and Coombes (see Sussex Churches).
Inkerman Arms, William the Conqueror and Bisun’s Bite Cafe at Rye Harbour
toilets at Rye Harbour
accessible by bus
a private tarmac road runs through the southern part of the reserve and the four bird-watching hides here are suitable for most wheelchairs. The northern part of the nature reserve, Castle Farm, is served by shingle and grassy paths.
These walks offer wide skies, lonely seas and lagoons. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is large coastal nature reserve with shingle beaches, sandy shores at low tide, grassland, saltmarsh and reedbeds bordering lakes and pools hosting a vast array of wildlife. It is excellent for birdwatching with a number of birdwatching hides.
Camber Castle is within the Nature Reserve and was built in 1539 by Henry VIII to defend the threat of being invaded by France and Spain, and is one of a series of forts along the south coast. The castle, once on the edge of the sea, is now two miles from the coast. It has taken around 500 years for the land to fill up with silt, and this has helped form the land that make up the nature reserve. Camber Castle is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from July to September at 2pm for a guided tour (check website first)
Disabled and Buggy Access: The northern route is possible with more robust wheelchairs and all-terrain buggies but is challenging. It is not a hard surface. The southern section, including the route from Rye Harbour to the sea and along the coast, is on a good tarmac surface. Several of the birdwatching hides are accessible.
Excellent walks with fine views and a chance to walk through the Devil’s Dyke, a spectacular, steep-sided downland combe or cleft 91m deep and 800m long. Legend has it that the Devil was attempting to drown the parishioners of the Sussex Weald by gouging out a channel to the sea. Halfway through his sinister task, an old lady lit a candle and the Devil, mistaking the flame for the rising sun, did a runner, leaving his work unfinished. The truth is more prosaic – the Dyke was carved through ridges of rolling rock by meltwater during the last ice age leaving a fine and spectacular example of a dry chalk valley.
View from devil’s Dyke towards Fulking
The pretty village of Fulking with the perfectly positioned Shepherd & Dog pub, is tucked away at the foot of the Downs. A steep haul leads you back to the top of the South Downs escarpment and the South Downs Way. There are stunning views northwards across the Weald and south across rolling downland landscape to Brighton.