Longer Walks and National Trails

Whether you are planning a long distance hike, an active day's walk or just a day out in the fresh air, Sussex has it all. Walking in the county is a joy - there are nationally important landscapes, fascinating heritage in abundance and charming towns and villages to explore. You will be delighted at how quickly you can achieve that sense of getting away from it all.

A network of long-distance paths criss-cross Sussex creating a unique variety of exceptional walking.

The South Downs Way

Designated in 1972, the South Downs Way links Winchester to Eastbourne. It is the only official long-distance trail which has the status of a public bridleway and accordingly is enjoyed by walkers, horseriders and cyclists. Managed by the Sussex Downs National Park, the 99 mile long waymarked trail is a moderate walk with some strenuous sections. It can be completed in five or six days by those who seek a brisk walk, but allow a week to ten days to explore the many downland villages, woods and hidden valleys along the way. Why not start your walk at Winchester or Eastbourne and return by train?

For those wanting company on their walk, Footprints of Sussex, on behalf of West Sussex County Council, organises an annual group walk along the South Downs. Transport is provided by bus to and from the starting and finishing points each day. Further information is available on Footprints of Sussex

The South Downs is managed by the South Downs National Park. Further information can be obtained on the South Downs Online website.

The Sussex Diamond Way

The Sussex Diamond Way is a linear 60 mile walk between Midhurst and Heathfield, and was created and named by the Sussex Ramblers Association to celebrate the 60th anniversary in 1995 of the Ramblers Association. As the path travels along the Low Weald there are no difficult or dramatic ascents, resulting in a fairly restful walk through heathland, arable and dairy farmland as well as forest. The walk consists of both footpaths and bridlepaths, therefore there is no through route for horseriders and cyclists.

The Sussex Diamond Way connects with The Wey-South path, the Downs Link, the Sussex Border Path, the Weald Way, the Vanguard Way and the Cuckoo Trail, thus enabling walkers to devise long distance touring holidays which comprehensively show Sussex at its best.

The Sussex Diamond Way booklet is available from the Mid Sussex Ramblers Association or telephone 01273 883306.

Worth Way/Forest Way Country Park

The Worth Way follows a 11km (7 mile) disused railway line from East Grinstead to Three Bridges, near Crawley. Combined with the Forest Way Country Park in East Sussex it offers the walker a 27 km (17 mile) route through classic High Weald scenery between Three Bridges and Groombridge, on the Kent/East Sussex border and provides a peaceful setting for walking, cycling and riding. It is also part of the Sustrans National Cycle Route from Dover to Inverness. More information on this can be obtained from Sustrans, telephone 01323 849371.

Information on the Worth Way is available from the West Sussex County Council website or their Public Rights of Way team on 01243 777620.

Worth Way Circular Walks is also available from the West Sussex County Council website. It features four short walks approximately 6 km long using sketches of the Worth Way in conjunction with other rights of way.

The Forest Way leaflet is available from East Sussex County Council website, telephone 01273 481654.

The High Weald Landscape Trail

The High Weald Landscape Trail is a 145 km (90 mile) waymarked route, which crosses the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) between Horsham in the west and Rye in the east. The High Weald AONB covers 560 sq. km at the heart of the South East and includes parts of West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Surrey. The trail has been divided into seven sections with each section traversing one of the six distinct landscape character areas of the AONB.

In West Sussex, the High Weald Landscape Trail, between East Grinstead and Horsham forms the western part of the route. This leaflet available from the West Sussex County Council website.

The High Weald Landscape Trail Guide is available on the website of Kent County Council. Telephone 01622 221526. It is designed as a practical guide to walking the trail, and offers comprehensive information on the geology, wildlife, landscape, history, architecture and archaeology of the area.

Ardingly Amble

A 13 km (8 mile) walk between two railway stations, Haywards Heath and Balcombe, including Ardingly reservoir and surrounding countryside. Download the Ardingly Amble leaflet.

The Sussex Border Path

The Sussex Border path traces a 150 mile route around the inland county boundary of the ancient Saxon Kingdom of Sussex. Some parts of the path leave the county line to explore more scenic routes and to avoid road walking. For those seeking a shorter circular walk a section of the Sussex Border Path provides a north - south link close to the present day boundary between the long established and separate counties of East and West Sussex. This route links East Grinstead in the north and Brighton on the coast. The main attraction of the path is its surprisingly remote and unspoiled quality in this populous part of England. A good alternative to downland pathways, the route is adventurous and challenging, exploring some of the most attractive parts of Sussex.

The Sussex Border Path by John Allen is the official route guide, and although out of print, may be available from libraries.