Distance: 3¼ miles
Time: 1½ hours
Description: An easy ramble using footpaths and stiles. Not suitable for pushchairs. The ground can be muddy in places.
This walk is a figure of eight loop starting and finishing at All Saints Church, Herstmonceux. It touches on the edge of Pevensey Levels, giving views to the South Downs. The furthest point of the loop is St Mary Magdalene Church, Wartling. On the return loop the route will take you through the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle. There is limited car parking in the road by the church.
The route along the road after Wartling needs care, but can be avoided by retracing your steps to where the figure of eight intersects(C).
To start, walk the short distance to the end of the road in front of All Saints church. Here turn left and right, entering the garden of Church Farm House. Follow the footpath that skirts along the left hand edge of the garden beside the boundary with Herstmonceux Castle. The path here can be difficult with overhanging and fallen branches. Eventually you will leave the grounds of Church farm House by crossing over two stiles into open farmland(A).
Cross the short distance to the hedge in front and turn left along the boundary hedge. The footpath continues along the side of the hedge passing through two fields. As the land drops down you will see in front of you a narrow flat boggy area that leads to Herstmonceux Castle in one direction and out to Pevensey Levels in the opposite direction. There is also an excellent view of one of the telescope domes nestled in the trees.
On leaving the last field cross over a stile to the left of a field gate. Follow the path ahead alongside a drainage ditch over to the rising ground ahead. Here turn right and cross over the ditch via the footbridge(B). Take the opportunity to look around and feel the atmosphere of this ancient place.
The path follows the edge of the marsh for a few metres before bearing left and climbing through some scrub and over a stile into open farmland once again. The footpath bears right across the field to a stile in the hedge. Here the path splits(C). Take the right hand path to meet a farm track coming from the left.
Follow the track across a ditch before it bends over to the left. As it bends leave the track and follow the footpath that leads straight up the hill to the corner of a small wood. Enter and leave the wood via a couple of stiles. Look back the way you have come and take in the open view of the countryside
Follow the path along the edge of the field and right between two embankments. Carry on to the drive of a house and down to the road in front of St Mary Magdalene Church(D). Take time to visit this beautiful church and graveyard, with its panoramic views over Pevensey Levels.
The next section is along a road that has no footpath and can be busy with traffic. Care is needed. If you wish, you can avoid this section by retracing your steps to where the footpath splits(C).
Carrying on, follow the road past The Lamb Inn and left around a tight bend. You now need to continue along the road for approximately 250 metres. You are looking for Coopers Farm on the left hand side. Immediately after Coopers Farm is the drive into Little Coopers. There is a stile visible from the road about 5 metres inside the drive. Cross over the stile and follow the enclosed footpath by the side of a field to the point C where the footpath split earlier.
Here cross over the stile and retrace your route to the footbridge at B. After the footbridge the route follows the public right of way along the line of trees on the right. Herstmonceux Castle comes into view ahead. After a couple of hundred metres you should see a farm gate on the other side of the marshy area. Cross over to the gate and use the stile on the left. Here there is a natural filter bed used by the castle. Walk around this and follow the footpath, heading for the left hand side of the castle.
Keep on this line and cross over the tarmac road into the field beyond. The route follows the obvious footpath up to the wood on the brow of the hill. Before entering the wood, look back again at the wonderful view of Herstmonceux Castle. In the wood continue ahead for several metres to a t-junction with a bridleway. Turn left here and down to the road that leads back up to All Saints Church. Before heading home take time to visit the church and its magnificent Dacre Tomb and the graveyard with its extensive views over Pevensey Levels.