The 1066 Country Walk in East Sussex is a 31-mile (50 km) trail from Pevensey Castle to Rye (West Undercliff) following the route of the Norman invasion. It’s well signposted with varying terrain. There are sections where it takes you along the road but it is not a cycle route.
Having set off from Pevensey Castle, the first section is across the Pevensey Levels so it’s marvellously flat and you can smell the sea and the old salt marshes. Once you reach the edge of the Levels, the landscape changes and you walk via hills and valleys, through woodland, along narrow paths and through meadows.
There are two alternative routes. The 1066 Country Wall Bexhill Link branches off from the main route just to the west of Battle. It finishes in Bexhill Old Town. This section is about 10 km. Do not make the mistake I did and follow that route by mistake if you’re trying to follow the main trail.
The other alternative route is the Hastings Link which branches off from the main route between Westfield and Ickelsham and finishes in Old Town Hastings where of course a visit to the castle makes a suitable finish. This section is about 8 km.
Points of interest
As you might expect, there are lots of points of historical interest along the 1066 Country Walk, starting with Pevensey Castle and the historic village of Pevensey itself.
Along the route, are 10 wooden sculptures created by local artist Keith Pettit and inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and the heritage of 1066 Country. Some of these are accessible by car, but some are not and some are easy to miss.
Herstmonceux Castle and Observatory
At the edge of the Pevensey Levels, you will find the distinctive red brick, 15th century moated castle of Herstmonceux, set in impressive grounds and standing proud in front of her drawbridge. Next to the castle are the equally distinctive four domes of the Herstmonceux Observatory and Science Centre.
The 1066 Country Walk skirts around the edge of the substantial grounds of Ashburnham Place. It’s now a Christian retreat but it dates back to the time of William the Conqueror and the park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
A major port of call on your way is of course Battle Abbey and the battlefield of the Battle of Hasting. The 1066 Country Walk passes right in front of the Abbey and on past the historic church.
From Battle, you head on to Westfield and Icklesham before arriving in Winchelsea. Old Winchelsea was an important trade station and naval base after the Norman invasion and in the 13th century, it was known for its wine trade. New Winchelsea replaced the old town when it was destroyed by a storm and was one of the Cinque Ports. Enter via one of the Medieval gates and explore the many historic buildings.
Rye barely needs an introduction. With the Ypres Tower, Mermaid Street, cobbled streets and many historic buildings, it’s a great place to end your journey.
Places to rest or stay
It is possible (but hard work) to walk the 1066 Country Walk all in one day but alternatively, you could break it into two days and stay in Battle overnight as it is roughly the half way point. There are lots of hotels in or near the town. Alternatively, break your walk into three days and stay at Ashburnham and Westfield.
You will need Ordnance Survey Explorer 124 which covers almost all of the 1066 Country Walk and its two links. The small section from Winchelsea to Rye is covered by OS Explorer 125. There is also more information on the 1066 Country website.
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