Get outside! Family walks in Sussex
Outside is free, so grab the fam and your boots and head out to explore Sussex with these brilliant local walks taking in coasts, rivers, hills and mills.
Arundel Park & South Stoke
11km, moderate, some steep inclines, route here
The kids’ll be, er, stoked with this one. Start at Swanbourne Lake before joining the Monarch’s Way up to where it meets the River Arun, then follow the river back down through the tiny hamlet of South Stoke, past the Black Rabbit (worth a stop if it’s open) and finishing at the WWT Wetlands Centre. There’s plenty of open access land to enjoy in Arundel Park, perfect if Fido’s accompanying you.
9km, easy, route here
Start and finish in South Harting for this circular walk that takes in the Harting parish and joins the Serpent Trail – part of a 64-mile route that covers some of the most spectacular heathland of the South Downs. In autumn it’ll be a riot of colour, come back next summer to spot sunbathing adders and lizards. If it’s open, refresh yourselves at the White Hart and stare up at the imposing Harting Down, one of Muddy’s favourite hills to avoid on her bicycle.
Gumber Farm, Slindon
6km, moderate, route here
This circular stroll takes in some of Stane Street, the ancient Roman road from London to Chichester. Some of the route is still used today, in the form of sections of the A29, other parts like this section of chalky downland, are now truly off the beaten track. Start and finish at Bignor Hill car park – follow the sign to Noviomagus, not Londinum!
Halnaker circular walk
6.3km, easy, route here
Admire Muddy’s favourite windmill with this lovely circular walk that also takes in another section of Stane Street (see above) this time enclosed in a breathtaking tunnel of trees. A visual spectacle any time of year, truly glorious in autumn. Somewhere along a bridlepath not far from Halnaker lies a curious old ruin (no, it’s not Muddy on her bike) that you might just be able to glimpse from up high.
Pagham Harbour to Sidlesham
3km, easy, route here
A lovely, easy, accessible coastal walk that takes in the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, one of the best places to see coastal wildlife including birds resting on their autumn migration. Part of the route follows the old light railway that ran between Selsey and Chichester until 1935.
Chanctonbury and Washington
Up to 11.5km, moderate, route here
Of the two ‘rings’ within just miles of one another, Cissbury tends to attract more visitors than Chanctonbury. The legendary circle of beech trees is always going to be Muddy’s One Ring to Rule Them All, however. Be prepared for a steep old climb to get up there, littler children might get whingy before you hit the top.
Jack and Jill circular, Pyecombe
Visit two icons of the South Downs, the Jack and Jill windmills at Clayton, with this easy circular route that’s actually fairly flat for most of the way. Jill, fully restored by devoted volunteers, is a working mill who even produces stoneground flour on occasion, so if you pass on a breezy day you might see her in action. Jack, the lazy heel, does nothing. Typical man. Oh OK, actually Jack was once the home of golf broadcaster Henry Longhurst, and is now being restored.
River Cuckmere circular walk
10km, easy, route here
The famous meanders of the River Cuckmere are instantly recognisable (they’re also a good spot if you fancy some wild swimming). This walk follows the river from the Seven Sisters Country Park to the chocolate boxy village of Alfriston and back.
Lookout Hill, Birling Gap
3,2km, easy, route here
Have a stroll up to Mad Jack’s Folly and take in the views from the far East of the South Downs Way, all the way out to sea.
6km, moderate, route here
Firle is arguably the lesser known of the South Downs beacons – nearby Ditchling Beacon takes that honour. However the views of the unmistakeable Firle Beacon facing the equally impressive Mount Caburn are in Muddy’s humble opinion some of the best the Downs have to offer. Haul yourself up and down with this route.
Stanmer Park, Brighton
8.5km, easy, route here
Brighton’s green oasis, the Stanmer estate covers some 5,000 acres and houses its own village and church. It’s also home to some stunning ancient woodland. Best of all, it’s super easy to access and park – and this loop takes in the best of it. Watch out for mountain bikers – the wooded trails are very popular with gnarly dudes and dudettes.
Long Man of Wilmington
8.5km, moderate, route here
The first record of a giant figure chalked into Wilmington Hill appeared in 1710. What does it mean? Why was it put here? Oh lord, who knows, but you can go and check it out with this walking route, and put your conspiracy theories to the test. It’ll give the kids something to think about, anyway.