Sussex is home to a large number of local and national trails. Even if you do not attempt any of these trails, you will come across many if you do some of the walks on this site. Most of these routes do not have an official website so I have a provided a link to the best or most informative ones available at the time of writing:
The well known trail follows the old droveways and routes along the ridges and escarpments of the South Downs over 160km/100 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester.
A modest 5000km/3125 miles path from Capo de São Vincente, Portugal to Narva-Jõesuu, Estonia. The British Section is 711km/449 miles long, from Dover to Plymouth, mainly on existing paths and routes, and passes right through Sussex. From Rye, the E9 starts on the 1066 Country Walk until Jevington in the South Downs, not far from Eastbourne. From Jevington it’s a straightforward route through Sussex on the South Downs Way.
The Downs Link links the North Downs Way at St Martha’s Hill, across the Weald via Horsham to the South Downs Way at Steyning, and on to the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea. Much of this 59km/37-mile multi-user route is along two disused railway lines.
A 107km/66 miles route from the suburbs to the sea, from the outskirts of Croydon to Newhaven. It will take you through some of the best Sussex countryside including the Ashdown Forest and Alfriston before meandering out to sea through the beautiful Cuckmere Valley with classic views of the Seven Sisters as you reach the coast. The Vanguards Rambling Club, who pioneered the route, named themselves after an occasion when they returned from a walk in the guard’s van of a crowded train.
At 615 miles, The Monarch’s Way is one of the longest of all English long distance footpaths. The Way follows the path taken by Prince Charles II as he fled to France following the defeat of his army at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 in the English Civil War. The Prince entered Sussex near Stansted Park travelling on to Arundel, Bramber and Brighton (where he almost got given away) before making his royal escape just in time from Shoreham-by-Sea. Many Sussex Inns claim the Prince spent a night, some say his last night before the escape, at their hostelry. They can’t all be right but we do know that, after his exile in France and Holland, Charles returned to England 9 years later to become King.
Sussex Border Path (detailed website with good descriptions of walking different sections)
The Sussex Border Path is a footpath route nearly 150 miles long around the inland boundary of the county of Sussex from Thorney Island to Rye, providing a route through the lower clay and sandstone Wealden area, which is often remote and remarkably unspoilt.
The Sussex Ouse Valley Way is a beautiful 42 mile journey that broadly follows the River Ouse from its source close to Lower Beeding (near Horsham) in the High Weald to the sea at Seaford Bay, passing through Lindfield, Sheffield Park, Barcombe Mills, Lewes, Rodmell and Newhaven. Highlights include the Ouse Valley Viaduct and Mount Caburn, near Lewes as well as the gardens at Nymans and Sheffield Park, and the Bluebell Railway.
The Forest Way 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.
The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 140 km /90 mile route in England between Horsham, West Sussex and Rye, East Sussex, designed to pass through the main landscape types of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including parts of Kent – rolling hills, sandstone outcrops (including Eridge Rocks near Tunbridge Wells), wooded valleys, ridge top villages, patchwork fields, streams and small areas of heathland. The route passes several Sussex and Kent gardens including Borde Hill, Groombridge Place, Wakehurst Place and Standen.
There is an excellent online guide entitled, Along and Around the High Weald Landscape Trail, which provides a detailed description of the route along with OS maps. The main link above also has individual chapters of the guide available to download.
A trail of variety from the Thames Estuary to the English Channel, 129km/80 miles, taking in surprisingly remote countryside, spanning chalk downlands, river valleys and wooded farmland. It begins at Gravesend on the Thames in Kent before crossing the North Downs, the High and Low Kentish and Sussex Weald, including Ashdown Forest, and then heading on through the South Downs to finish in Eastbourne
A 14 mile surfaced path through the East Sussex countryside, mostly traffic free and a safe route for walkers and cyclists of all ages, forming part of the National Cycle Network – route 21. The trail follows the former ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway track and stretches from Heathfield to Eastbourne Park, passing through Horam, Hailsham and Polegate.
This 50km/31miles route follows the footsteps of William the Conquerer taking in historical sites on a generally low level walk through ancient towns and villages, over hillsides and through woodland, and passing oast houses and windmills. The route includes the Normans’ landing point at Pevensey and the battle site at Battle, and the castles at Pevensey and Herstmonceux, finishing in the attractive town of Rye.
The Royal Military Canal Path runs for 28 miles along the entire length of the Royal Military Canal from Seabrook, Kent to Cliff End in East Sussex. The route treads a path between the vast openness of the Romney Marsh and the old cliff line with its wooded hills and quiet villages. Constructed in the early 19th century as a defence against a possible invasion by Napoleon, the canal-side path now makes for an excellent and easy walk.
The 56km/38 miles Wey-South path follows the Wey River and the Wey and Arun Canal on a waterside walk through Surrey and Sussex. The route starts off in Guildford and heads south to Rowly, onto Billinghurst, continuing towards Pulborough before passing through the delightful Amberley Wild Brooks wetland. The route then comes to an end near the attractive thatched downland village of Amberley in Sussex. Much of the walk follows canal side towpaths with footpaths and minor roads making up the remaining sections.
This 103km/64 miles walk runs from Haslemere to Petersfield through the beautiful Sussex greensand hills. The path takes its name both from its serpentine shape and from passing through the habitat of all three British species of snake. It starts with the serpent’s ‘tongue’ in Haslemere and leads to the ‘head’ at Black Down, West Sussex. From there the ‘body’ turns west and east again along the greensand ridges. The trail ‘snakes’ by Liphook, Milland, Fernhurst, Petworth, Fittleworth, Duncton, Heyshott, Midhurst, Stedham and Nyewood to finally reach the serpent’s ‘tail’ at Petersfield. There is an attractive and very informative Serpent Trail Official Guide (PDF).
Opened in 2007, this 89km/55 miles walk runs from Horsham to Chichester with many literary connections along the way. The walk begins at Horsham, near Percy Bysshe Shelley’s millennium fountain, and heads through the South Downs to Chichester with its connections to William Blake and John Keats. It passes through picturesque towns and villages including Sinfield, Storrington, Amberley and Duncton, and stretches of the River Arun, before finishing near the iconic cathedral in Chichester.
Highlights on the route include Parham House and Gardens, near Storrington, an Elizabethan House boasting a Great Hall and Long Gallery, and the fascinating Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester. The museum boasts ’45 historic houses and agricultural buildings dating from the 13th century to victorian times rebuilt in a magnificent parkland setting’.
This walking trail runs for 42km/28 miles from Liphook, in Hampshire, to East Head at the entrance to Chichester Harbour. The path takes you through some of the loveliest parts of West Sussex including greensand ridges, Wealden river valleys, heathlands, high chalk downland and then finally the coastal plain at Chichester. It also passes the fascinating Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (see above).
The Midhurst Way is a long-distance route from Haslemere to Arundel, West Sussex, passing through Midhurst and covering approximately 29 miles from the start point at Haslemere Station to the finish at Arundel Station. The path is now being promoted in three definable sections of about 10 miles each. These comprise: 1. Haslemere Station to Midhurst Bus Stn. 2. Midhurst to Coultershaw Bridge. 3. Coultershaw Bridge to Arundel Station. Route descriptions and further details may be found on the website below.
Attractions on the route including the magnificent Arundel Castle, near the start of the walk. The path also passes very near to Petworth House and Park, a magnificent 17th century mansion within a beautiful 700-acre park with an extensive art collection. It also passes the ruins of the fascinating Cowdray House near Midhurst.
GPS Cycle and Walking Routes has a list and brief description of national trail walks in Sussex with options to view and print detailed OS maps of the walks and an aerial view map with landmarks. Good website and very useful.
West Sussex County Council has some good brief descriptions of the routes through the west of Sussex.
The Ramblers have a regional A-Z of walking routes. Sussex is included in its Southern England section.