To me, nothing says Christmas more than a chance to get out and walk with family and friends, either on Boxing Day to wear off some of the season’s overindulgence or just during that no man’s land week between Christmas and New Year. You may have noticed that in the last year, we’ve been out and about all over the place exploring Sussex walks, trails and new routes and my conclusion is that we’re really blessed and spoilt for choice here in Sussex. So, in the hope that you’ll get a chance to get out exploring in the next couple of weeks, we thought I’d share six of our favourite walks from across the county.
Singleton, near Chichester
This 10 km route starts and ends in Singleton and has the benefit of free parking and a pub at the end (The Partridge). The highlights of this walk have to be the stunning views, and feeling of remoteness, as well as the woods of the West Dean Estate. The woods, which start with a line of Golden Larch, are absolutely magical and I’m sure I spotted the Gruffalo.
Harting Down, near Midhurst
I chose a 5 km loop for this walk but it’s on the South Downs Way and there are plenty of other footpaths so if you want to walk further you can. There is free parking for National Trust members only. The highlights of this walk were the relentlessly stunning views, and you’re near Uppark House if you want to extend your visit to this corner of Sussex. There are some chunky climbs and although there are no pubs on route, there are two in nearby South Harting.
Kingston to Rodmell and back, near Lewes
My husband still hasn’t forgiven me for this walk as I told him it was an easy 8 km. It is in fact nearer 16 km but what a walk! Parking is a little tricky in Kington as it’s residential, but you could start the loop in a different spot. You have fantastic views as you walk along a ridge of the South Downs, via the South Downs Way. There’s a pub in Rodmell which is roughly your halfway point (just under), namely The Abergavenny Arms. Rodmell is also home to National Trust property Monks House. Other things to look out for are Lewes Castle and Priory, the Ouse Valley and Ashcombe windmill.
Ashdown Forest, near Uckfield
Having spent much of the 1990s, gadding about on Ashdown Forest on a horse, I confess I never really follow a route when here, rather I just meander about carelessly in the hope I might get lost. However, it’s a great place for a walk with free parking, lots of pubs in the nearby villages and great views. If you know what your looking for you can see some of the route of the Kingston to Rodmell walk from various points here too. There’s also the Airman’s Grave and Nutley windmill to look out for.
The South Downs at Wilmington, near Eastbourne
One of our more recent walks was this 6.5km walk which starts at the Long Man of Wilmington. Parking is free at Wilmington Priory and there are actually dozens of different routes you could try. My top recommendation would be to get here on a clear day at sunrise because at the top of the Downs it is spectacular here. Once you’ve finished your walk there is lots more to do including a visit to Alfriston and a pub lunch. There’s a National Trust property at Alfriston (Clergy House) but it’s closed at the moment. Or try a visit to the Long Man Brewery or Rathfinny vineyards.
Camber Castle and Winchelsea, near Rye
The last of these Sussex walks is a 15 km route which I did as a bike ride in the early summer but if 15 km is long, you could just walk in the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. There is parking here but it can get busy. You could also just walk to Camber Castle or just walk a little of the 1066 Country Walk from Rye and back. Highlights along this walk were of course the nature reserve, Camber Castle, the stunningly pretty Winchelsea (with its own museum and amazing views) and Rye itself where a pitstop is a must.
My favourite walk of the year
I’ve done a lot of walking this year and choosing a favourite is nothing short of impossible because I’ve loved them all. But the South Downs Way always comes out on top for me every time whether it’s sunny, blustery or downright freezing cold. The fact that you can walk from Eastbourne all the way across Sussex to South Harting near Midhurst also holds a fascination and if you’re looking for a walk this Christmas my recommendation would be to head to the South Downs with a map and a picnic in hand and prepare to be figurately (and perhaps literally too) blown away. I’ve walked many sections of it individually but my challenge for 2022 is to finally walk the whole way. I hope that perhaps on my travels along the South Downs Way, our paths may cross and if they do, please be sure to say hello.
If you like this post about some of the best Sussex walks, you may also like: