long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Category: Wealden and Eastbourne Walks (page 2 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.

The Airman’s Grave, Ashdown Forest

The Southern Slopes and the Airman’s Grave (PDF, Friends of Ashdown Forest)

Purple Heather on Ashdown Forest

  • 2 miles plus optional extension to tea rooms
  • tea rooms at Duddleswell (extend the walk – see map on PDF)
  • One longish but mostly gentle climb back to the ridge

Part of the Exploring Ashdown Forest on Foot series of guides, this walk has some wonderful views to the South Downs and takes in a lonesome memorial to the crew of a World War Two plane.

Combine this walk with other walks in the series, try Pooh Walks from Gills Lap.

Ripe Walk

Ripe Walk (PDF – East Sussex County Council)

Ripe Church Sussex

  • 2.5 miles, 4km
  • mostly easy walking
  • village pubs in Ripe (closed as at April 2015) and Yew tree Inn, Chalvington

cup of tea

An easy walk starting in the small village of Ripe, eight miles east of Lewes, along country lanes and across fields with a few stiles, taking in two attractive churches and the nearby village of Chalvington. There are views towards the South Downs. The walk starts at the currently closed Lamb Inn in Ripe and a short diversion in Chalvington will take you to the Yew Tree Inn, a friendly and traditional  rural pub with good value food and a large attractive garden.

The villages of Ripe and Chalvington are close neighbours, which still retain their individual characteristics. One of the most eye-catching houses in Ripe is The Old Cottage, a 16th century timber framed building covered in a large number of carvings. The tiny church in Chalvington is unusual, being constructed of local flint from the South Downs. It has a wooden tower which has leant slightly since the Great Storm of  October 1987.

Pooh’s Ashdown Forest

pooh shop hartfield

Pooh’s Ashdown Forest (AA) and Poohsticks and Sandpits (PDF – Fancy Free Walks)

  • 7 miles (AA walk) or 10-and-a-half miles or 2 walks of 6 and 6-and-a-half miles (Fancy Free Walks)
  • mostly easy walking
  • good pubs and cafes  in Hartfield, ice cream vans often in car parks along route at Gills Lap and King’s Standing
  • Pooh Corner Shop and tea rooms/garden in Hartfiled

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Ashdown Forest

These walks explore the haunts of AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and his much-loved friends. The AA walk takes in undulating farmland and dense woodland on its way the fine village of Hartfield and Pooh Bridge for a game of Pooh Sticks. The Fancy Free Walk replicates much of the AA walk but is far more extensive taking in more of the Classic Pooh sights such as Eeyore’s Gloomy Place, Roo’s Sandy Pit  and the Enchanted Place, all landmarks in the Pooh stories. Another highlight is a memorial to AA Milne, the author of the stories (at the place where he – and Pooh Bear in the stories – used to sit) and EH Shepard , the illustrator, where there are fine views over heathland.

Pooh Walks from Gills Lap

Pooh Walks (PDF, Ashdown Forest,)

  • 0.6 miles short walk, 2 miles circular walk
  • one fairly steep climb, can be boggy around Eeyore’s Gloomy Place!
  • ice cream van often in car park

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View from AA Milne Plaque

These two walks are classic Ashdown Forest walks in Winnie-the-Pooh Country. This is the part of the forest that features the places that most inspired A A Milne when he wrote the Pooh stories, and is fine heathland with some excellent views. The shorter walk takes in The Enchanted Place and the Sandy Pit and is suitable for younger children, whilst the longer walk descends to the North Pole and Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place. Another highlight is a memorial to AA Milne (at the place where AA Milne used to sit and Pooh bear in the stories) and EH Shepard , the illustrator, to commemorates the stories, which reads:

“and by and by they came to an enchanted place on the very top of the forest called Galleons Lap”

A A Milne Plaque

This is walk one in the Exploring Ashdown Forest by Foot series of attractive  and informative leaflets.

Pooh Bridge is quite a walk away but only a short drive and is also worth a stop for a game of Pooh Sticks. See Pooh’s Ashdown Forest Walk for details of how to get there and for the option for a longer walk near this part of the Forest.

Birling Gap Walk from the Tiger Inn

Tiger Inn, East Dean
Birling Gap from the Tiger Inn (National Trust)

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The short 3 mile circular walk starts from The Tiger Inn at East Dean in East Sussex, a wonderfully situated pub on a traffic-free village green.  On this walk, you still walk down to the coast but after a short coastal stretch you turn back inland (avoiding the challenge of walking the Seven Sisters but getting the view). Great downland and coastal views.

What remains of the small settlement at Birling Gap is crumbling into the sea but you should be able to visit the cafe as long as the sea has not made any further inroads!

Birling Gap

The last of the Coastguard Cottages, Birling Gap

The alternative walk is longer with some short steep ascents along the coast as you tackle the start of the Seven Sisters.

For a more challenging walk in this great area for walking, try the Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters Walk which takes in all the Seven Sisters.

Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters

Friston Forest and the Seven Sisters (National Trails)

  • 8 miles/13km
  • Steep ascents and descents
  • pubs at East Dean and Exceat Bridge, cafes at Birling Gap and Exceat

Seven Sistes from Cuckmere Haven Beach

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Having walked this route recently, this is one of the most challenging walks in Sussex, but it well worth it thanks to the wonderful coastal views. It also passes through Friston Forest and the perfectly preserved downland hamlet of West Dean. The Tiger Inn at East Dean is a wonderfully situated pub on the traffic-free village green.

The walk can be walked in either direction. The prevailing winds are south westerley, along the coast from west to east. If it’s a cold windy day and this is the case, you might do best walking down the Cuckmere Valley first to the coast, and then onto Birling Gap and back through the Forest. Look out for the wind effect on hill-top hawthorn bushes and trees.

Long Man of Wilmington Walks

Wilmington’s Mystery of the Long Man (AA) or Alfriston & The Long Man (Fancy Free Walks, PDF).

  • 9.5 miles (Fancy Free Walks)
  • 6.2 miles (10k), 2 and a half hours for the AA walk
  • good pubs and tea rooms in Alfriston (note that this is a short detour off the AA walk) and Litlington (Fancy Free Walk only). Wilmington also has a pub and tea rooms, but these are a short walk away from the start/finish.
  • steep ascent
  • accessible by bus

buscup of teahistoric attraction

Summer landscape image of ancient chalk carving in hillside - The Long Man oif Wilmington

The Long Man of Wilmington

A choice of two excellent walks up to some of the finest Downland in East Sussex, above the historic village of Alfriston, where there are a range of tea shops and pubs.

Both walks start in Wilmington and take you past the tiny and remote Lullington Church,  built from the remains of the chancel of an earlier church that was destroyed by fire. It’s then up to the edge of Lullington Heath,  a rare chalk heathland. Towards the end of the walk, you pass above the mysterious 235 foot hill figure of the Long Man of Wilmington.

The longer Fancy Free walk also takes in the downlannd hamlet of Folkington, as well as Litlington and Alfriston itself.

 

 

 

The Cuckoo Trial

Site of Horam Railway Station, East Sussex - geograph.org.uk - 1737899

Horam Station, now part of the Cuckoo Trail

The Cuckoo Trail (Est Sussex County Council, PDF)

  • 14 miles linear walk – plenty of options for shorter walks
  • mainly level surfaced track, suitable for wheelchairs and buggies
  • plenty of pubs, tea rooms and toilets
  • accessible by bus and train
  • cycle info from Sustrans

disabled access signtrainbuscup of teacycle

This 14 mile trail follows the former ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway track which stretches from Heathfield to Polegate. It passes through Horam, Hellingly and Hailsham. The cuckoo line opened in 1880 and was the Polegate to Eridge Railway. It was named the Cuckoo Line after the tradtion that the first cuckoo of spring was always heard at the Heathfield Fair. The last trains ran in 1968 following the famous Beeching Cuts.

The surfaced track is a safe family-friendly route for walkers, cyclists and horseriders. An extension runs south from Polegate to Hampden Park, near Eastbourne forming part of the National Cycle Network (Route 21). Benches and picnic tables along the way offer plenty of places to stop for a break.

 

Forest Way Circular Walks

hartfield-fields.jpg

Forest Way Circular Walks (PDF, Metrobus)

  • 10 miles with a number of shorter circular options from 2 and a half miles.
  • flat, surfaced and accessible track – good for buggies and wheelcahirs
  • pubs and tea rooms along the route at Forest Row,  Hartfield and Groombridge, toilets in Forest Row and Groombridge
  • accessible by bus

disabled access signtrainbuscup of teaflowercycle

The Forest Way (PDF leaflet, east Sussex County Council), a cycling, horse-riding and walking route, is approximately 10 miles long and runs along an old railway line from East Grinstead to Groombridge. The Park lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and passes through or close to East Grinstead, Forest Row, Hartfield, Withyham and Groombridge. The Forest Way is accessible for people with disabilities. Part of the National Cycle Network. Combine a walk with a visit to the beautiful ‘enchanted’ gardens at Groombridge Place.

Bus company, Metrobus, have produced an excellent Forest Way Circular Walks leaflet (PDF) showing the whole route with its circular options and marking on all the many pubs along the way as well as the bus stops for the 291 bus from East Grinstead to Tunbridge Wells.

The western end of the Forest Way links up with the Worth Way which extends to Three Bridges.

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