8 Woodland Walks in East Sussex

Hiking in our magnificent countryside is the ideal way to find peace, get some exercise and have fun with friends and family. These woodland walks in East Sussex offer spectacular panoramic views, atmospheric forests and glimpses into our enthralling past.

Bateman’s Estate – 3 walks

Walkers can choose from a few different routes around this beautiful 300-acre estate. Bateman’s sits in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Beauty. Historic and picturesque, the landscape consists of hedgerows teaming with wildlife, ancient trees, secret ponds and mile after mile of serene paths. The River Dudwell snakes through the valley past deserted iron ore pits and patchwork fields.

Bateman’s Estate was once the home of literary powerhouse Rudyard Kipling and the Sussex countryside he looked out onto was the inspiration for many of his characters. He called it a: ‘Good and peaceable place’.

Puck’s Walk was created in celebration of the story Kipling wrote for his children ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’. Hike out to the Mill Pond, into the woods, over the rolling hills and into the pretty village of Burwash Weald. It’s a gentle wander of 2.5 miles with magnificent views.

The 2-mile Ironmaster’s Walk focuses the attention on the iron industry that dominated the land around Bateman’s for four centuries.  Evidence of previous years of graft is scant but, if you look closely, there are still signs of smelting waste, mine pits and an old forge.

The Dudwell Farm walk is 2.5 miles long and meanders through the local village to St Bartholomew’s Church where there is a memorial to Kipling fallen soldier son John. The residents are rightly proud of their famous neighbour, in the butchers there is a framed order from the Kipling family. On your walk you’ll pass the stunning 17th century house Rampydene.

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Brede High Woods – Various

It easy to lose track of time in Brede High Woods, an idyllic place where rare wildlife can be found. In the streams that wind calmly through the ancient woodland you may be lucky enough to spy the eel-like Brook Lamphrey swimming along or stumble across a species of beetles that few human eyes ever see, the Flea Beetle.

There are plenty of well sign-posted paths which allow visitors to explore the medieval trees, sandy heathland, vast meadows and remains of the iron ore works. Most of the terrain is bare soil so can become waterlogged and rutted. The easiest routes to traverse are the three that are partially paved which start at the B2089.

Brede High Woods is wonderful in every season. Nature lovers will delight at the gorgeous butterflies, carpets of spring bluebells and colourful autumn foliage. Tread lightly and you might meet shy badgers or skittish deers, weasels and newts.

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Crowhurst Walk – 3.5 miles

This lovely walk starts from Crowhurst train station and passes through the RSPB’s Fore Wood Nature Reserve. It’s a peaceful 3.5 miles alongside Powdermill stream, past ruins, over fields and within site of a deep, dramatic ghyll.

Fore Wood is the highlight of the walk. It’s one of the oldest ancient woodlands in East Sussex at over 500-years-old. Historic Roman bell pits are dotted throughout the reserve as the woodland was used for iron ore production.

The RSPB purchased Fore Wood because of the impressive number of birds who live there. Twitchers will adore this walk! Look for woodpeckers, tree creepers and nuthatch flying through the trees and in the coppices and scrubland keep watch for marsh tit and blackcap.

Our favourite part of our walk was enjoying a flask of tea by the pond and spotting a kingfisher darting through crowds of dragonflies.

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Woods Corner Walk – 3.5 miles

The Woods Corner walk begins at The Swan Inn, a traditional country pub in the village of Dallington. If you’re nervous about map reading, this is a fab walk as it is clearly way-marked throughout.  The scenery is typically English countryside, your boots will travel through well-tended fields, on forest paths and alongside a deer park.

You’ll pass by many of the follies built by John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller who was the Squire of Brightling Park Estate from 1757 to 1834. One of these is The Wall which runs around the estate land. He master-minded to provide meaningful work for local men coming home broken by the Napoleonic Wars.

Towards the end of your 3.5-mile amble you’ll see The Sugar Loaf one of the most eccentric of all Jack Fuller’s follies. It is a conical shaped cement building crafted after losing a drunken bet. Legend suggests it was built in one night to ‘prove’ that he could see the spire of Dallington Church from his front lawn.

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Battle Walk – 4.5 miles

The Woods Corner walk begins at The Swan Inn, a traditional country pub in the village of Dallington. If you’re nervous about map reading, this is a fab walk as it is clearly way-marked throughout.  The scenery is typically English countryside, your boots will travel through well-tended fields, on forest paths and alongside a deer park.

You’ll pass by many of the follies built by John ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller who was the Squire of Brightling Park Estate from 1757 to 1834. One of these is The Wall which runs around the estate land. He master-minded to provide meaningful work for local men coming home broken by the Napoleonic Wars.

Towards the end of your 3.5-mile amble you’ll see The Sugar Loaf one of the most eccentric of all Jack Fuller’s follies. It is a conical shaped cement building crafted after losing a drunken bet. Legend suggests it was built in one night to ‘prove’ that he could see the spire of Dallington Church from his front lawn.

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Burwash Walk – 6 miles

This awe-inspiring walk shows off The High Weald, a landscape that has changed very little over the last 700 years. Its survival is a miracle when you consider the transformation of the rest of the British countryside has undergone in that time.

Historian and writer Hilaire Belloc summed up the importance of the countryside you’ll be looking upon when he said: ‘Unless a man understands the Weald, he cannot write about the beginnings of England.”

Your 6-mile path winds into the charming Dudwell Valley where in the spring and summer months you’ll be greeted by a rainbow of wildflowers to delight the eyes. The centuries old forest has year-round appeal. It’s amazing to imagine yourself walking in the same footsteps as Neolithic farmers grazing their pigs.

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Buckhurst Walk – 5.5 miles

East Sussex is a county blessed with many areas of ancient woodland and the Buckhurst Walk shows off this arboreal beauty. In fact, the forests of this part of the country gave A. A Milne the background for his imaginary 100-acre wood, the home of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.

In bad weather, a walk in amongst dense trees is a great way to avoid the worst of the wind and rain, so on wet days head to Wadhurst Railway Station to begin this picturesque route. Do wear stout boots though! It can be very muddy underfoot.

On your 5.5-mile hike you’ll walk past Lightlands, an elegant dwelling in the Parish of Frant. This isolated Tudor mansion was built in 1541 on the grounds of King John’s hunting lodge, a royal home that was burnt down.

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Crowborough Walk – 9 miles

The longest of our recommended walks and a classic route through the British countryside. Skirt farmer’s fields lush with crops and gentle hills dressed in bright green trees.

Your day out in the rural idyll of East Sussex will take you to both Deep Ghyll and Crowborough Ghyll. A ghyll can be described as either a deep ravine in the woods or a narrow mountain stream.

They are a super important habitat and have great environmental significance. Their steep sides create microclimates that are home to rare plants including mosses, liverworts and ferns.

As fascinating and beautiful as they are, don’t be tempted to swim or climb in the ghylls without professional supervision. If you’re feeling adventurous contact a local outdoor pursuits company to book a day’s ghyll scrambling with ropes, wetsuits and helmets.

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