Walk 3: Herstmonceux – Herstmonceux Castle Circuit

Distance:               5½ miles

Time:                      2¾  hours

Description:            An easy ramble using footpaths and stiles. Not suitable for pushchairs. The ground can be muddy in places.


Starting in the centre of Herstmonceux follow the sign to the recreational ground. Continue along the left hand side of the rec. and exit via the metal kissing gate to an open field. In the field take the diagonal path that leads to the far right corner of the field. Go through the double kissing gate passing an old entrance to Lime Park on the left and a block constructed farm building on the right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe path lies straight ahead giving panoramic views of the South Downs. This is a large open field and the path is straight. You eventually exit via another kissing gate. The footpath takes you down diagonally left across this narrow field and exits by yet another kissing gate(A).

Here, turn left and almost immediately right along a farmOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtrack between two overgrown ponds. Then turn diagonally left off the track, following the path as it crosses a narrow field and exits through a gap in the hedge. Keep going in the same direction crossing the next field to a footbridge over a small stream. Ahead lies Butler’s Farmhouse and garden. Follow the path as it skirts round the garden and exits into Butlers Lane via two kissing gates(B).

Opposite the farmhouse is a field gate. Cross over the stile to its right. The path is indistinct so follow the hedge on the left to the junction with two other fields(C). Turn OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAinto the field on your left and cross the field to the top left hand corner near a group of houses. Exit the field using the stile into the garden of Little Butlers. Being careful to keep to the path, turn right along the hedge for a short way then left onto the drive. Follow the drive to Church Road. At the road turn left and right after about thirty metres onto a footpath between two commercial nurseries(D).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe footpath continues for about a hundred metres before entering a field via a metal gate. Follow the line of the ditch and hedge on the right to the bottom of the field, where there are two footbridges. Cross over the first footbridge and follow the ditch and line of trees ahead, keeping them on your left. These peter out after a while, but straight ahead you can see the route up the hill to a ridge. Follow the footpath up OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto the gap in the hedge(E) on the skyline. This is a crossroads. Turn left through a bridleway gate and follow the path through a brief wooded section to the foot of Comphurst Lane. Keep on the lane for about forty metres before turning right along another bridleway that leads through a field gate by some farm buildings(F)

You will see ahead of you the line of the bridleway as it descends alongside fenced paddocks and through a gate into an open field. Continue straight ahead as the bridleway leaves the open field and enters the grounds of Herstmonceux Castle. Here you will see an avenue of ancient gnarled chestnut trees which crosses the path, although the view OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnowadays can be obscured by undergrowth. The path here can be quite muddy. Follow it down through the woodland and cross between two ponds. Shortly after there is a fork. The bridleway continues up the hill, but you should take the right hand path(G) up through the trees for about a hundred metres to an open field.

Follow the path parallel to the right hand boundary for a few metres as it approaches the Observatory Science Centre. However long before reaching the centre the footpath moves off to the left as it crosses the field diagonally to the far corner. Go through theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA narrow band of trees and exit to a road via a gate. Turn right here and keep off the road as the traffic can be fast moving along this stretch. Cross the main entrance to Herstmonceux Castle and shortly after turn right(H) by a rarely used car park. This path is part of the 1066 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACountry Walk. The route now continues through the woods and grounds of the castle until it comes out into an open unfenced area. Continue ahead for a few metres and locate the path(I) that leads right towards the castle.

The path approaches the castle on its left hand side, with some excellent photo opportunities. Follow the path over the tarmac drive and into the field on the left of the castle. Here the footpath is obvious as it climbs the hill to the wood on the brow. Before entering the wood via a kissing gate look back at the splendid view. Once inside the wood keep ahead for about thirty metres to a t-junction with a bridleway(J). Turn right at this junction and follow the bridleway through the wood. Ignore the footpath to the leftOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA and exit the wood via a gate. Ahead is a wonderful view of Herstmonceux Place and to the left are views to the South Downs. Continue on the path as it descends down the hill. Join the farm track and climb the slope ahead until you meet again the point(E) at the junction of several paths. Turn left here and retrace your steps back to the centre of Herstmonceux.