long man's walking guide to Sussex

A Compendium of Sussex Walks

Page 3 of 9

A Woodland Walk at Nymans

Nymans House


Woodland Walk at Nymans (National Trust)

  • 2 and a half miles (4k)
  • Moderate walking
  • cafe (free to all) at Nymans, Red Lion pub in Handcross (near to the walk’s start/end)
  • accessible by bus

buscup of teaflower

Nymans is one of Sussex’s great English gardens. Developed from late 19th century, the garden reached a peak in the 1930s and was regularly opened to the public.  The house now survives as a rather romantic garden ruin following a severe reduction of staff during World War II and then a disastrous fire in 1947.

The best option for this walk takes in Nymans Gardens themselves (paid entry or free for NT members) but there’s an option to nearby public footpaths too. Either way, it’s an excellent walk around the surrounding estate amongst rolling hills and woodland in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Cow Wood. near to the gardens, and the woods within the estate in the Ouse Valley,  are noted for their bluebells in the spring.

Shoreham-by-Sea Walks

Souths Down near Shoreham

View from the Monarch’s Way

Shoreham by Sea and Upper Beeding Walks (South Downs National Park, PDF)

  • Two linear walks between bus stops of 4 and 4.5 miles, but you can easily make your own circular walks
  • low beamed Red Lion and Amsterdam pubs at Shoreham at start/end of one of the walks but little else
  • grassy paths and bridleways, uneven at some points, and some climbs
  • Shoreham by Sea train station is within reach of the Shoreham walk and also see Shoreham by Sea and the Downs Link (PDF, iFootpath) for a 7.5 mile circular walk from the station

trainbuscup of tea

A choice of two walks with other options which take you up on the Downs above Shoreham where are are excellent downland views over the Adur Valley and towards the sea.

The Shoreham walk begins at the Red Lion bus stop in old Shoreham, near the wooden old Shoreham Toll Bridge, built in 1781, linking Shoreham-by-Sea to Lancing and Worthing by crossing the River Adur tidal estuary.  From Shoreham, it’s a walk up to Mill Hill Nature Reserve, with great views over the Adur valley and across to Lancing College. In summer, look out for Adonis Blue butterflies. Up on the downs, the route heads eastwards towards Mossy Bottom Farm and then southwards towards Slonk Hill Farm, before returning to the urban fringe.

The Upper Beeding walk starts begins on the South Downs Way, before soon switching to the Monarch’s Way. This 615 mile long distance path is based on the lengthy route taken by King Charles II during his escape after defeat by Cromwell, but perhaps leave that for another day….

Heading southwards, you’ll encounter Thunders Barrow Hill, a bronze age barrow, and The Rest and Be Thankful Stone, a block of sarsen stone measuring roughly three feet square and two feet high, and makes an excellent seat (possibly originating from Southwick Church). You finish the walk by heading over the A27 tunnel at Southwick Hill, opened in 1996 and where the 490 metre long tunnel thankfully preserves a little downland, before getting back to Old Shoreham Road.



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.




The Egrets Way

Egrets Way Sign
The Egrets Way, Ouse Valley Cycle Network

  • variety of walking, cycling and accessible routes
  • still under development so check the Ouse Valley Cycle Network website for latest
  • mostly flat
  • accessible by bus and train

disabled access signtrainbuscup of teacycle

The Egrets Way is a new and developing network of interlinking, safe and accessible cycle and walking routes within the Ouse Valley between the County Town of Lewes and the channel port of Newhaven including the parishes of Kingston, Swanborough, Iford, Northease & Rodmell, Southease, and Piddinghoe.

Egrets Way at Southease

The South Downs Way intersects The Egrets Way at Southease

The way is already providing some safe and accessible walking and cycling routes, and much of it will be suitable for buggies, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and child cyclists. To date, paths have been completed running from Kingston to Lewes and also from Rodmell to Southease. Now the project is continuing the process of constructing the path, which will largely run alongside the River Ouse.

For the latest information, check the The Egrets Way website by the Ouse Valley Cycle Network.

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



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.

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