Local LDPs

Plenty to Choose From

Long Distance Footpaths (LDP)

For these walks a good map is definitely required. Whilst some paths like The South Downs Way are clearly signposted all the way, others like the Saxon Shore Way and 1066 Country Walk can be very sparsley signposted. As an example, the Saxon Shore Way, as it comes down Channel Way into Fairlight, has no indications at all for how to pick it up again at the far end of Lower Waites Lane.

Equally, some paths have got dedicated web-sites while others just get a brief mention on various sites - a search of the internet will pick up these and I have provided links to some of the more interesting ones.

I have also provided links to maps on the gps-routes.co.uk web site; this is a very good site and the OS maps provided are excellent with the routes clearly marked - you can even print off small sections. You need some patience if you have a slow internet link, these maps contain a lot of data and will take some time to download and display - the wait is definitely worth it though.

I have noticed with some interest how many of the paths listed below start at, end at or pass through Rye - if you are into long distance walking, you will not have far to go!

1066 Country Walk

The 1066 Country Walk starts at Pevensey Castle. There is a very easy link path (see a map) from Pevensey Bay if you are using bus service 99 from Hastings to Eastbourne. It ends at Rye and is about 32 miles.

I have done this in three legs with the help of a kind partner to drop-off and pick-up. However public transport links at Pevensey, Boreham Street, Battle, Westfield, Icklesham, Winchelsea and Rye mean that such assistance is not a requirement.

There are also 1066 Country Walk Links from Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings so there are plenty of opportunities on just this one almost local long distance path.

There are stiles, a section that can be nicely water-logged, one or two short climbs to take the wind out of you and a few tests of your navigational skills. Against this you have Pevensey Marshes, Herstmonceux Castle, Battle Great Wood and Winchelsea offering views and vistas unseen from any car. Some really good pubs (and a brilliant tea room) on the route; if you've not done a tried a long distance path before, I recommend this one almost on our doorstep.

Some information on the 1066 Country Walk can be found here: walkandcycle.co.uk. A map of the route can also be found here: gps-routes.co.uk.

Saxon Shore Way

The Saxon Shore Way starts at Hastings - at the bottom of East Hill, and then goes straight through Fairlight.

Of course, the Saxon Shore Way does not end here, but follows the shore line in Saxon times all the way around to Gravesend - some 120 miles. It is marked on Ordnance Survey maps but hardly at all on the ground - there is a book but it seems to be out of print at the moment. This is a path for the adventurous, not recommended for your first long distance path.

Having said that, the closest sections of the SSW can be highly recommended: Hastings to Pett Level is spectacular - see Walk Suggestions; and from Pett Level to North of Rye where the River Rother parts from the Royal Military Canal, the SSW is coincident with the Royal Military Canal Path - see below.

Public transport links - mainly trains - are quite good for this walk. Railway Stations at Rye, Ham Street, Sandling, Dover, Sandwich, and various stations in North Kent make returning to your start point fairly easy.

Some information on the Saxon Shore Way can be found here: Saxon Shore Way. A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk.

Royal Military Canal Path

The Royal Military Canal Path starts at Pett Level, I'm sure we all know where. This is also about 32 miles. You are following a canal so it's flat! Hardly any stiles, there are some though, the only catch is to make sure that you are on the correct side of the canal, or you may walk several miles before having to turn around and go back.

The scenery is quite varied over its entire length but there are stretches where it gets a bit monotonous for a few miles. There are also stretches where there is a hedge between you and the canal - very boring! Things start getting very interesting as you start nearing Hythe - you may even glimpse a lion or two as you pass to the south of Port Lymne.

You do need a map, if only to find out where exactly you are! Some information can be found here: Royal Military Canal - and here: Royal Military Canal.

Sussex Border Path

The Sussex Border Path sometimes does not appear to be a contigous path in my experience. You will certainly need a map for this one. This is a long path, starting in Rye and roughly follows the East and West Sussex borders all the way to Emsworth. I have walked this from Rye to Hawkhurst and it can be a navigational challenge, even with a good map, but then that's part of the fun isn't it? Definitely take a companion as two heads are better than one in sorting out where to go next. You will need to plan circular walks, or out and return walks as the opportunities for using public transport are few and far between.

Interestingly, there is an isolated section of the Sussex Border Path following the border between Brighton & Hove City and Sussex - this is very scenic as you are on the Downs for a lot of the way.

More information on the Sussex Border Path can be found here: Sussex Border Path. A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk.

The Cuckoo Trail

The Cuckoo Trail follows the old Southern Railway Line from Polegate to Heathfield. The line, which continued to Tunbridge Wells, was known as the Cuckoo Line. There is a link to the start from Hampden Park, Eastbourne.

This is a wide, hard surface path that is pushchair friendly, wheelchair friendly, dog friendly, cycle friendly and horse friendly. There are watering holes at Polegate, Hailsham, Hellingly, Horam and Heathfield.

This is an old railway line so it should be level, right? Well it's definitely easier walking 'downhill' from Heathfield to Hailsham than the other way around. If you only want to do a one-way trip, there is a very convenient hourly bus service between Heathfield and Eastbourne that calls in at Horam, Hailsham and Polegate. With free car parks in Hailsham, Horam and Heathfield this is a no-brainer for an easy stroll in the countryside when you are not feeling too energetic.

More information on the Cuckoo Trail can be found here: Cuckoo Trail. A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk.

The High Weald Landscape Trail

The High Weald Landscape Trail starts at Rye and ends in Horsham - or the other way around of course. Not many people have heard of this long distance path. I came upon some signs by accident several times when followng some bits of the Saxon Shore Way and the Sussex Border Path. It was not until I looked it up that I found out what a significant walk this was.

I think, like the Sussex Border Path and the Saxon Shore Way, this trail uses pre-existing footpaths, connecting them altogether to make an end-to-end walk. I have no experience of this trail and if anyone in the village has, then please tell me about it.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk.

The East Sussex Coastal Trail

"I've never heard of this one!" I hear you say. You are right, it's one I've made up. You won't find it on any map, you will have to work it out for yourself but it is pretty simple, just look at a map and follow the path nearest the sea that you can.

I did this in six legs, the sixth leg was quite short but then you might like all the legs that short. The legs are deliberately made with public transport in mind, if you've got a senior railcard and a bus pass then these can be very cheap, hassle-free and enjoyable days out.

Leg one started from Brighton Marina and follows the under-cliff walk through to Saltdean. Then up onto the top of the cliffs and follow these all the way to Newhaven Fort. Newhaven was a stop for lunch, then over the swing bridge, down past the ferry terminal and through the old ruins of Tidemills where you can read the fascinating history of the place. Finally ending at Seaford to catch the train home.

Leg two started from Seaford, up over Seaford Head to walk down to see that classic view of the cottages at Exceat with the Seven Sisters in the background. There's a bit of a trek to get over to the other side of the Cuckmere via the road bridge, but then up and over the Seven Sisters to Birling Gap which was also an idyllic stop for lunch. Continue up over the downs past Belle Tout and Beachy Head then down into Eastbourne for the train home. For scenery this is truly an amazing walk.

Leg three started from Eastbourne following the coast as near as you can through the Crumbles with its marina, to Pevensey Bay wher a stop was made for lunch. Then on through Normans Bay, round the back of Cooden golf course to Cooden Beach Station for the train home. Not a very exciting leg at all, you could easily miss this one out if you do not have to tick all the boxes.

Leg four started from Cooden Beach, down onto to the shingle for a quarter mile before following the promenade all the way through Bexhill. Then up to the Coastguard lookout tower and down the relatively new hard path, past Ravenside Shopping Centre, the beach huts at Bulverhythe onto the Promenade at the Western end of St Leonards. Then a straight forward walk along the promenade to Hastings Old Town at The Bourne for the bus home.

Leg five started from The Bourne following the Saxon Shore way through Fairlight and on into Rye for the bus home. There is a relatively easy alternative route from the top of East Hill to the Coastguard Cottages above Fairlight that avoids all those steep descents and climbs through the three glens. Just head inland a bit to the track and then road that passes to the north of the holiday park. By continuing almost straight along the various roads and then footpaths, you end up just to the north of the cottages near the car park.

Leg six started from Rye following the Rother around the back of the A259, where all the boats are, to emerge into the recreation ground by the bridge. Over the bridge and almost immediately right, following the route of the old tramway, crossing the golf course and then right into the near end of Camber Sands to catch the bus home.

Other Long Distance Paths not too Far Away
The South Downs Way

The Southdowns Way runs from Eastbourne to Winchester and must be one of the best known long distance walks in England. It's on a lot of walkers' lists - it was on mine! There is a plethora of information about the Southdowns Way on the Internet and books that are easily available second-hand from Ebay.

This is only a personal opinion, it is like a motorway for walkers and cyclists. Very busy, very wide, no navigation required - it's all very obvious, and hard ground under-foot for most of the route. This is not really what I'm looking for in a day's walking. Also, it is not at all friendly for public transport; I couldn't have done this without help from friends and family to drop-off and pick up. Against that, there is some stunning scenery with views for miles.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk. A couple of the best sites to look at are here: South Downs Way by National Trails, and South Downs Way.

The Weald Way

The Weald Way runs from Eastbourne to Graveend or vice versa.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk. Some more information can be found here: Wealdway by Long Distance Walkers Association - there are more good links from this site.

If you look at the map, you will see that the Vanguard Way and Weald Way cross each other a number of times in the Berwick, Hellingly, Blackboys areas. This makes for easy circular routes from a car park that go out on Vanguard Way and back on Weald Way, or vice versa.

The Vanguard Way

The Vanguard Way runs from Croydon to Newhaven or vice versa.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk. Some more information can be found here: The Vanguard Way by Long Distance Walkers Association - there are more good links from this site.

If you look at the map, you will see that the Vanguard Way and Weald Way cross each other a number of times in the Berwick, Hellingly, Blackboys areas. This makes for easy circular routes from a car park that go out on Vanguard Way and back on Weald Way, or vice versa.

The North Downs Way

The North Downs Way runs from Farnham in Kent via Dover to Canterbury.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk. A couple of the best sites to look at are here: North Downs Way by National Trails, and North Downs Way.

The Sussex Ouse Valley Way

The Sussex Ouse Valley Way roughly follows the River Ouse from its source to Newhaven.

A map of the route can be found here: gps-routes.co.uk. A couple of the best sites to look at are here: Sussex Ouse Valley Way by Long Distance Walkers Association, and Sussex Ouse Valley Way.