long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Category: Wealden and Eastbourne Walks (page 1 of 2)

Wealden in East Sussex is a large and mostly rural district and provides many excellent walking opportunities. There are two main upland areas: the High Weald; and the eastern end of the South Downs. There are a number of small towns including Crowborough, Hailsham, Heathfield and Uckfield. Major landmarks include Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven, the Long Man of Wilmington, Ashdown Forest, and various high points along the South Downs. There are many historic villages and attractions including Alfriston, Hartfield, Herstmonceux Castle, Michelham Priory, Sheffield Park gardens, and Pevensey Castle. Long-distance footpaths include the South Downs Way; the Monarch’s Way; the Sussex Border Path; and the Wealdway.

Arlington and Abbot’s Wood

Arlington & Abbot’s Wood (Fancy Free Walks, PDF)

  • 14k, 9 miles
  • Good traditional country pubs along the way – The Plough, Upper Dicker; Yew Tree Inn, Arlington; The Old Oak Inn, Arlington.
  • Village shop and cafe in Upper Dicker
  • 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

historic attractiontrainbuscup of teacycle

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.

Shorter waymarked walks in Abbots wood – Abbots Amble and Oak Walk  (Forestry Commission).

For cycle rides in the area, see Off the Cuckoo Trail, which includes a 18 mile cycle ride taking in Arlington and Abbot’s Wood.

Weirwood Bluebell Railway Walk

Stone Farm Rocks crag - geograph.org.uk - 1672314

Weirwood Bluebell Railway Walk (Bluebell Railway Walks)

The Weirwood Walk (Gravetye Manor, PDF)

  • Choice of two slightly different walks – one of 4 miles (Bluebell Railway Walks) and the other of 5 miles (Gravetye Manor Walk)
  • can be muddy after wet weather
  • take a train ride on the  Bluebell Railway and stay/dine in style at Gravetye Manor

trainbuscup of tea

These varied circular walks take in Stone Farm Rocks, Weirwood Reservoir Nature Reserve and the steam trains of the Bluebell Railway, which runs for 11 miles (17.7 km). The railway operates between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead, with intermediate stations at Horsted Keynes & Kingscote, allowing you to combine the walk with a trip on the railway. And of course, you’ll see bluebells along the way during the spring.

Weir Wood Reservoir was created in the mid-1950s by damming the River Medway. It is used for sailing and fishing, and known for its range of resident and migrant birds such as great crested grebes and herons.

Stone Farm Rocks are a series of sandstone crags, some as high as 8 metres (26 ft) high , and is owned by the British Mountaineering Council who run it for the benefit of climbers. 

See Bluebell Railway Walks for more opportunities to combine walking and taking a trip on the railway.

If you feel like treating yourself, stay at Michelin starred Gravetye Manor overnight or for a meal or afternoon tea. The manor was built in 1598 and is known for its gardens.

 

Beachy Head to Birling Gap

Belle Tout Lighthouse

Belle Tout Lighthouse

Beachy Head to Birling Gap (South Downs National Park, PDF)

buscup of tea

A walk of  superb sea views and and rolling downland clifftops, with the initial section covering the high Downs on the edge of Eastbourne.  It’s then westwards towards Beachy Head, 500 feet above the sea, and onwards to Belle Tout lighthouse high up on the clifftop.

Belle Tout was built in 1832 but decommissioned in 1902 when the new Beachy Head lighthouse was built at the base of the cliffs. During World War II, Belle Tout was damaged when Canadian troops used it as target practice. In 1999, due to continuing erosion threatening the future of the building the lighthouse was moved 17 metres (56 feet) back from the edge of the cliff.

From the lighthouse, it’s down to Birling Gap, a small settlement crumbling into the sea, but you should be able to visit the National Trust cafe as long as the sea has not made any further inroads!

From Birling Gap, it’s inland towards East Dean, where you can stop off at the picturesque Tiger Inn or the Hikers Rest Tea Room, situated  on the traffic-free village green, where you can get a bus or walk back to the start.

 

 

 

Alfriston and the River Cuckmere

Church of St. Andrew, Alfriston, England Crop - May 2009

Alfriston and the River Cuckmere (South Downs National Park, PDF)

  • 6.4 miles, 10.3k with shorter circular options
  • pub and tea rooms in Alfriston, Seven Sisters Visitor Centre and Litlington.
  • riverside, quiet roads and downland walking with several stiles and short steep climbs
  • accessible by bus

buscup of tea

A varied walk which takes in the historic downland village of Alfriston, the River Cuckmere, Friston Forest, the hidden flintstone village of West Dean, and the small attractive village of Litlington, where there is a choice of two good places to stop for refreshments – the Plough and Harrow pub and Litlington Tea Gardens (summer only).

Along the way, you’ll also visit the hill of High’n’Over, known for its White Horse (an impressive but relatively recent creation) carved into the hillside on the way up.  During the 19th century, the horse was cut into the downs to the west of the village, replacing an earlier one known to have been present from some years earlier. From the top of the hill, there are fine views over the Cuckmere River, Friston Forest and the village of Litlington.

For an alternative walk in the area, you could try the National Trust’s Over Hill and Under Vale at Frog Firle Farm.


Alfriston Clergy House Walk

Alfriston Clergy House

Alfriston Clergy House Walk (National Trust)

  • 4-5 miles, 2 to 2-and-a-half hours, moderate walking
  • pubs and tea rooms in Alfriston, and the picturesque Cricketers in Berwick and Rose Cottage Inn in Alciston, just off the main trail
  • accessible by bus

buscup of teahistoric attraction

This walk starts in Alfriston within the  South Downs National Park where you can also visit the National Trust’s first property, acquired in 1896,  the 14th century Alfriston Clergy House.  Heading north, you reach the downland village of Berwick where the cottage style Cricketers pub makes a good stop as does a visit to the church for a look at the murals by Bloomsbury Group artists. There are fine views later in the walk over Alfriston and the spire of St Andrew’s Church, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Downs’.

Nutley Windmill & A Walk Amongst Friends

Friends Clump Ashdown Forest

Friends Clump

A Walk Amongst Friends (Friends of Ashdown Forest, PDF)

  • 1.7m, 2.8k
  • One steep climb back to Friends Clump

This short walk through heath and woodland, begins at  Friends Clump, one of Ashdown Forest’s iconic ‘clumps’. Clumps of Scots pines were first ordered to be planted here in 1825 by Elizabeth, Countess de la Warr, whose descendants owned the Forest until 1988. In 1973 The Friends of Ashdown Forest decided to commemorate the “Year of the Tree” by planting the Friends’ Clump, which is at the start of this walk. The Clumps are a prominent feature of the Ashdown Forest landscape and serve as useful markers for visitors.

The walk passes Nutley Windmill, a  fine example of the oldest post mill design, known since the 12th century. The mill is believed to be about 300 years old, and is occassionally open to visitors. Continuing through trees and then on to open heath, the  walk reaches the bottom of Millbrook Valley,   once the site of a Saxon iron smelting furnace, before a steep ascent back to the start.

 

Broadstone Amble, Ashdown Forest

Broadstone Amble Ashdown Forest

Broadstone Amble  (PDF, Friends of Ashdown Forest)

  • 1.8m, 3k
  • One longish but mostly gentle climb back to the ridge


bus

 

This is walk 6 of the Exploring Ashdown Forest on Foot series of guides, with some fine views towards the North Downs. Starting from the Ashdown Forest Visitor Centre, this walk takes in all the best features of Ashdown Forest – wood, stream, heath and slope. In summer Broadstone Heath is home to characteristic breeding birds such as Dartford warbler, nightjar, stonechat and tree pipit, and deer are often to be seen here plus the odd adder or lizard.

 

 

Fletching Walks

Fletching Walk Signpost in front of church

Fletching Walk (Sussex Living Magazine) and Fletching Circular (Argus)

  • 4miles, 6.5k for Sussex Living Walk; 5.5 miles for Argus walk.
  • Good choice of excellent pubs. Griffin Inn and Rose & Crown at Fletching,  plus  Mr T’s Village Store and cafe.  For the second walk, the Royal Oak Inn and the Bull Inn in Newick.
  • Easy walking – field paths and country lanes, some stiles.

cup of teabus

Both walks start from the centre of Fletching village and follow field paths and relatively quiet stretches of country roads through peaceful countryside.

Fletching is a quiet picturesque village tucked away off main roads. In 1264, Simon de Montfort stopped at Fletching for the Bishop of Worcester to bless the troops prior to the Battle of Lewes.  The church, with its lofty spire, dates from the 12th Century and contains the tomb of the historian Edward Gibbon (Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire). The Griffin has a pub garden with wonderful views over the River Ouse valley and nearby Sheffield Park. The latter’s castellated back gateway is on the left as you enter the village at the end of the second walk (not an official public entrance).

The Griffin Pub Garden Fletching

The pub garden at The Griffin, Fletching

The Sussex Living walk is a walk along lanes and across fields around Fletching. The Argus is similar but visits the village of Newick along the way, with a picturesque village green (albeit dissected by the A272), and a choice of two pubs to break the walk.

Herstmonceux Walk

Herstmonceux Castle

Herstmonceux Walk (East Sussex County Council, PDF)

cup of teabushistoric attraction

A generally easy walk along country lanes and across fields with some stiles, passing close to Herstmonceux Castle. The moated castle is one of the earliest important brick buildings in the country, having been constructed in the mid fifteenth century by Sir Roger Fiennes. In 1946, it became the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, who stayed for 40 years. Now owned by the Queen’s University of Canada, the House and Gardens can be visited between April and October, whilst the Science Centre is open though much of the year.

Starting in the picturesque village of Boreham Street, a large part of this walk, including this section, follows the route of the 1066 Country Walk which runs between Pevensey and Rye. Walking across fields and along lanes, the castle is reached just before halfway round.

The Coastal Culture Trail

Discover outstanding art on the East Sussex coast

The Coastal Culture Trail joins De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, Jerwood Gallery in Hastings and Towner in Eastbourne. The three award-winning galleries share a stunning 20 mile stretch of East Sussex coastline.

trainbuscup of teacycle

There’s a website full of ideas for walking and cycling the trail with details of East Sussex attractions, accommodation, and eateries to create three bespoke trails to suit a variety of tastes and interest:

There’s a 15 mile coastal walk and plenty of cycling options too, with details of bike hire.

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