Distance: 5½ miles
Time: 2¾ hours
Description: An easy ramble using footpaths and stiles, with some a short section on a quiet road. Not suitable for pushchairs. The route over Pevensey Levels can be boggy and often flooded in winter.
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.
The path lies straight ahead through a large open field. 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 farm track 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).
Once in Butlers Lane turn right and follow this quiet narrow road for about a quarter of a mile as it descends to Pevensey Levels and a T-junction. Turn left at the junction and continue for a hundred metres passing a bungalow and a cottage on your right. Almost immediately after the cottage there is a stile(C) that leads you into an open field and ahead of you is the expanse of the Levels. Here field boundaries are marked by drainage ditches rather than hedges and finding your way can be difficult. Fortunately the drains are made visible by the reeds that grow along them and the fields are usually quite small.
Continue straight ahead and cross a footbridge over the first drain. Looking to the right you will make out a hedge that borders an arable field. Head for this hedge and follow it to the left. As the hedge straightens, make for the farm gate in the left corner of the field(D). Pass through the gateway and immediately ahead a drain leads the way. Keep on the left of this drain for a little way. When the drain bends to the right keep straight ahead, crossing the large field. You are making for a gap between two drains leading to the next field. Once into the next field, look ahead and make for the gateway into the next field marked by wooden fencing. Here there is a drain on the left leading ahead to a footbridge. You will pass a duck pond on the left as you approach and cross to the next field. Straight ahead there is a small bramble hedge either side of a footbridge. Make for this and cross the bridge. Continue straight along the ditch(E) as it leads to a much larger drain.
To your right a footpath leads to Lookers Cottage and a pumping station. You will turn left instead and make your way along the side of the drain. Shortly you will join the main Hurst Haven that leads to Rickney and beyond. Continue along the waterway until a drain comes in from the left. Here you will need to turn left through a gate and immediately right to get back to Hurst Haven.
Continue a little further before passing through another gate(F). Turn left here and make for a gateway highlighted in chalky white. Here the path splits. Turn sharp left through a gate. Locate the drain on the right and follow it all the way as it heads towards the church on the hill ahead. The drain becomes a ditch as the ground begins to rise slightly. At the end of the ditch enter the steep field ahead via a stile by a farm gate. Ascend the field diagonally right. Baring your way is a fence. Head for the gate in the fence and climb over the stile to its left. Skirt round the right side of the field to the churchyard and exit onto the road that fronts the church.
Pass in front of the church and entrance to Herstmonceux Castle. Carry along the road for about a hundred metres. Locate the bridleway on the right that climbs into the wood at an angle(G). Follow the bridleway through the wood. Leave the wood via a metal gate. In front of you will see Herstmonceux Place over the shallow valley. The footpath leads downhill to the chalk farm track at the bottom of the slope. As you descend look over to your left and you will have views over Pevensey Levels to the South Downs.
Your route follows the track up the other side of the valley. On reaching the top you will come to a junction of paths(H). Turn left and follow the farm track down to the bottom at the corner of a small wood and over a stream. The farm track turns right but you need to look for a line of small trees in front of you. Head for these and keep them on your right. You will pick up a stream on your right as well. At the end of the trees cross into the next field over a footbridge and turn immediately left. Ascend and exit the field using a small metal gate. Follow the enclosed path for about fifty metres to Church Road. Turn left into Church Road and then right along the driveway of Little Butlers(I). A little way along the drive the footpath moves left to the garden edge. Carry on to a stile on the left and climb over it back into open farmland. In this first field follow the path diagonally right to the far corner and the junction of three fields. Leave the field via a gateway and turn immediately right. Follow the hedge as it descends to Butlers Lane and Butlers Farmhouse. Cross over the stile into the lane and through the kissing gate to the right of the farmhouse. You can now retrace the route you took earlier back from Butlers to the centre of Herstmonceux.