May is National Walking Month, and to celebrate here are some of our favourite routes and guided walks from around East Sussex.

Whether you enjoy the stunning coastal scenery of the King Charles III England Coast Path, the magic of the Ashdown Forest, or the beauty of the South Downs Way, there is something for everyone.

East Sussex Walks

Birling Gap from the Tiger Inn, East Dean

This moderately challenging, three-mile circular walk offers stunning views over the South Downs and the East Sussex coast.

Leaving from the 15th Century pub in the village of East Dean, this walk takes you across the fields down to the cliff top at Birling Gap. On your way, enjoy views of the historic Belle Tout Lighthouse, which was moved back from the cliff edge on rails in 1999 to save it from falling into the sea.

Between the South Downs and the sea

This four-and-a-half mile walk starts and finishes in the peaceful hamlet of Crowlink. The route takes you through meadows and trees, down towards Birling Gap and up over three of the Seven Sisters.

Remember to be cliff aware and stay safe if you are walking on or under the chalk cliffs along our spectacular coastline.

Seven Sisters County Park

Walkers can enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Country Park with numerous walking routes, and visitors are welcome to explore all of the park on foot.

It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk the easy access path, Cuckmere Miles Without Stiles, from the Visitor Centre at Exceat to the beach at Cuckmere Haven. Visitors can also experience the Cuckmere Accessible Audio Trail along the route which is suitable for people with impaired mobility, wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs.

Estate walk at Sheffield Park

Visitors to Sheffield Park and Garden can enjoy exploring the historic parkland of the Sheffield Park estate as well as the beautiful landscaped gardens.

The estate walk is approximately three miles long and leads walkers down gentle slopes and across grazed fields to the riverside flood meadow.

1066 Country Walk, Pevensey to Rye

The 31-mile 1066 Country Walk is a relatively easy, low-level route through countryside that witnessed the Norman Conquest. Starting at Pevensey Castle and heading north towards the Pevensey levels, it passes Herstmonceux Castle, the historic 1066 Battle Abbey and battlefield, and medieval Winchelsea, before ending in historic Rye.

10 wooden sculptures created by local artist Keith Pettit can be found along the Walk. The sculptures are inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and the heritage of 1066 Country.

Osprey Trail around Arlington Reservoir

This level, circular trail meanders around the reservoir and takes about an hour to complete, walking at a leisurely pace.

Arlington Reservoir is set in 248 acres of beautiful landscape and lies in the tranquil surroundings of the Low Weald, with the South Downs National Park and the Long Man of Wilmington as a backdrop.

The Cuckoo Trail

This picturesque 14-mile trail follows the former ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway line and stretches from Heathfield to Shinewater Park. It passes through Horam, Hailsham and Polegate.

The railway opened in 1880 and became known as the Cuckoo Line because, traditionally, the first cuckoo of spring was released from a cage at Heathfield Fair. The line was axed under the Beeching cuts and eventually closed in 1968.

There are also a number of local walking and rambling groups if you’d like meet up and walk with others who enjoy exploring the Sussex countryside.

Firle to Polegate

A new path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders runs alongside the A27 between Firle and Polegate. The path was completed by National Highways and opened last summer.

There’s plenty to see along the route. From Firle, the path passes through woodland and past Charleston, home of the Bloomsbury group, to the village of Selmeston. It then continues past Drusillas Park and over the Cuckmere River before passing through Wilmington and onto Polegate.

Health Walks in Rother District

Health Walk groups are a great way to meet people and make new friends while enjoying a gentle walk (1 to 1.5 miles in length), taken at your own pace.

The walks are held at:

  • Bexhill Ravenside: weekly between 11am to noon
  • Ninfield: every other week on a Thursday between 11am to noon
  • Battle: every Friday between 10am to 11 am
  • Bexhill seafront: every Friday between 11am to noon
  • Sidley: every Monday between 11am to noon
  • Rye: each Monday between 10am to 11am.

The walks are free and suitable for all ages and abilities. There’s no need to book, just turn up 10 minutes before the walk begins.

Find out more on the Active Rother website.

Accessible walks

There are lots of accessible walking route options across Sussex.

123 Walks is a collection of one, two and three mile walks around local parks, woods, nature reserves and rural footpaths. The website includes details of accessible routes with surfaced paths suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

Accessible Countryside for Everyone is an independent voluntary project that details walks and countryside places which are accessible for those with restricted mobility, or by those who use wheelchairs, pushchairs and mobility scooters.

Route conditions and access can change so please do check locally before travelling.

Guided Walks

Walking Weekend, Eastbourne, 4 and 5 May

The team behind Eastbourne’s Walking Festival are bringing you the Walking Weekend.

Join walk leaders as they take you on guided walks through the countryside and experience all that nature has to offer. Explore the wonders of the Downs, wander through Sussex villages and learn about the land beneath your feet.

Castle Water Wildlife Walk, Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, 16 May

Join the team for a circular walk of approximately three-and-half-miles, starting out from Brede Lock.

The route follows the River Brede across the sheep fields to Henry VIII’s Camber Castle, before heading to the birdwatching hide overlooking Castle Water to look at some of the wetland birds.

Rye Guided Walks, Rye, 4, 5, 26 and 27 May

Enjoy a one-and-half-hour walk exploring the rich history and secrets of Rye, as you make your way along the cobbled streets and passageways led by an expert guide.

Please wear weather appropriate clothing and suitable footwear – Rye’s streets can be steep and uneven.

The magic of walking

Walking is good for our mental and physical health, and you don’t have to hike for miles to benefit.

According to Living Streets, the organisation behind National Walking Month, a 20-minute walk can reduce the risk of a number of preventable health conditions, including certain cancers, depression, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Perhaps you could consider walking to school, to work, or to the shops. Even if walking the whole way isn’t practical, could you park the car further away or get off the bus a stop earlier and walk the rest of your journey?

Living Streets have put together 20 tips to help you fit 20 minutes of walking into your day as part of their campaign to encourage people to discover the magic of walking.

Wherever and whenever you walk, get out and about this month and discover the #MagicOfWalking!