Sussex Walking Festival

Sixty organised walks are on offer at this year’s Coast & Country Walking Festival taking place throughout Wealden and Eastbourne over the nine days from Saturday 26th September until Sunday 4th October.

BootsThe Festival, organised by Wealden District Council and Eastbourne Borough Council, features walks through the beautiful coastal Downlands around Eastbourne, the enchanting High Weald and the wild and wonderful Ashdown Forest in the north of Wealden.  There are also town walks including the popular pre-dinner seafront strolls.

Councillor Claire Dowling, Cabinet member for Public Health and Community Safety said:

The Festival aims to provide something for everyone – from short family walks with children’s activities to more challenging hikes when a good pair of walking shoes is in order.  The aim is to be fun and informative, and the walks also offer the chance to meet some like-minded people.

Last year more than 650 people took part in our first Coast & Country Walking Festival.  We are hoping even more this year will use it as an opportunity to enjoy some fresh air and improve their health. Walking is an underrated form of exercise, but by far the easiest to take up – and keep up.

For the first time there is a walk in celebration of ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller, the notorious Sussex folly builder and patron of the sciences who was christened at Waldron. Actor/historian Geoff Hutchinson will lead the walk in period costume and provide tales to intrigue and amuse all during the four mile walk.  Jack Fuller’s Follies around Brightling includes a free art workshop at 2pm where children will be encouraged to make their own ‘folly’ in Lucas Hall.

Other walks include The Ruin, the Beerhouse and the Woman of Doubtful Reputation, a walk around the outdoor estate of Michaelham Priory; The Making of the High Weald, a three mile walk which takes you back 700 years to the medieval landscape around Mayfield; and Navigating the South Downs, a chance for satnav users to return to the days of OS maps and compasses.

For the real walking enthusiasts, a 20 mile Wealden circular walk begins and ends at Burwash, while the less enthusiastic may wish to try one of the many health walks taking place across the District which cover a couple of miles.

And if you are worried about the weather, two of the walks on 27th September and 3rd October are indoors: walking tours of Eastbourne’s oldest theatre, the Hippodrome.

Hungry?  There’s a foraging walk for wild food and medicinal plants in the woods between Hailsham and Arlington.

History, wildlife, wine and photography all feature photography in this year’s walks.  There is also a chance to try out Nordic Walking using specially designed poles. Many of the walking locations can be reached by public transport.  A full list of walks, dates and times and how to get there can be found at  Walks are graded as 1 Easy, 2 Moderate and 3 Brisk.  Click search on the website to see all the walks available.

Bookings can be taken via the website or by telephone, 01323 443275.  Most of the walks are free of charge.Walking Festival logo

The Coast & Country Walking Festival involves many organisations and individuals.  The project is coordinated by Wealden District and Eastbourne Borough Council with the support of the South Downs National Park Authority.

Main photo by Crataegus Flint.

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