Distance: 6 km. Elevation: 137 m. Difficulty: Easy.
The route of this fabulous Cuckfield circular walk is in the shape of a square. It’s an ideal all-year-round walk, with plenty of shade in the summer, some lane and track walking to avoid the mud of the winter and some great woodland stretches for those autumn colours. It stradles two maps, so you need Ordnance Survey Explorer 135 and 34, or a good App. I met hardly anyone on this walk, and there are large stretches where you enjoy silence as well as lots of diversity that includes parkland views to wooded tracks.
The High Weald Landscape Trail and Cuckfield Park
There is parking in Broad Street car park in Cuckfield. It is limited but I got there early and had no problems. From there head into the high street and then south towards Ansty and Cuckfield Park. Having rounded the two bends to the south of the village, you see the footpath, immediately to your right. This is part of the High Weald Landscape Trail, a fabulous 145 km trail that goes from Horsham to Rye.
The first section takes you across a series of undulating fields with sketchy views of Cuckfield Park and views back to Cuckfield itself before you enter woodland. The woodland path also rises and falls, with occasional views of the South Downs to your left.
Deaks Lane and Highweald Wine
After about 2 km you reach Deaks Lane and turn left onto it. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this section of the walk but it’s a quiet lane, and I met little traffic. To the right, you past Highweald vines and vineyard, and when I walked this way, they were just starting to harvest. They do offer tours and tastings, which might give a little purpose to your walk or be a pleasant reason to take a break.
Otherwise, continue down Deaks Lane until it climbs to Ansty where you turn left and find yourself facing the main Ansty crossroads. Here, as you start to look left towards Cuckfield, you’ll see a footpath on the opposite side of the road.
Mackrell’s and the church spire
This is another really well-maintained section of footpath, with views to your left of Cuckfield church followed by wide open spaces to your right. You just follow this footpath along (further than you think you should) until there is a footpath to your left.
This takes you under a row of chestnut trees (perfect for autumn colours) and alongside a small homestead (Mackrell’s Farm Cottage) before the path dips down, crosses a small stream and starts to climb again. You cross the A272 and Cuckfield and its church are quickly in sight.
When you get back, there are plenty of eateries in Cuckfield, as well as afternoon tea available at Ockenden Manor if you need to refuel.
Cuckfield is the stomping ground of my youth. I was born here, went to prep school here and remember visiting many local farms for PYO in the 1970s. The churchyard is a particularly special place, and if I have to be buried anywhere, I think it would have to be here.
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