Walking is one of the best ways to really see and appreciate the countryside, and Sussex has a number of long distance trails and shorter walks, some good for off-road cycling too. Many are easily accessible by train and bus, so leave the car behind and make a small contribution towards halting climate change.
The South Downs Way, a 160-km long National Trail for cyclists and horse riders as well as walkers, winds from Eastbourne to Winchester, following the line of ancient tracks across the ridges and river valleys of the South Downs. It has spectacular views north over the Weald and south to the English Channel, and takes you past Saxon churches, Iron Age hillforts, old windmills, Georgian manors and pretty villages. The Downs Link, a 59km footpath and bridleway following disused railway lines, links the North Downs Way in Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning, and on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham-by-sea.
Other trails criss-crossing the county include the Wey-South Path, which follows the route of the Wey & Arun Canal from Guildford in Surrey to picturesque Amberley, and the 140-km High Weald Landscape Trail from Horsham to Rye on the coast, which crosses the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), passing the distinctive sandstone villages of West Sussex and the white weatherboarded villages typical of the east. Not forgetting, the 'Annual South Downs Way Walk' which will take place from 22nd to the 30th June 2012, walking easterly from Winchester to Eastbourne. Bookings are now being taken. All of these long distance trails can be walked in shorter sections depending on whether you prefer a leisurely amble or a challenging trek.
Plumpton parish walks traverse ancient woodlands to the north and extend into the South Downs National Park to the south. There are 16 walks leaflets available mapping the best routes of between 3 and 7 miles, with notes on local flora and fauna and sites of special interest.
Shorter trails include the 1066 Country Walk, which meanders through stunning countryside between Pevensey Castle and Rye’s Strand Quay via the town of Battle, over hillsides and through woodland, passing oast houses and windmills on the 50-km route. And the Cuckoo Trail, a 25km disused railway line winding through the Wealden countryside linking Eastbourne, Pevensey, Polegate, Hailsham, Horsham and Heathfield. Try the off-Cuckoo Trail rides too.
Sussex is a wonderful county for cyclists to explore with a great network of quiet roads and country lanes; flat routes along the coast and hilly circular rides through and around the South Downs.
For further information about the hundreds of walking, cycling and horse-riding routes available for you to explore across Sussex visit the Rural Ways website. Rural Ways also features a whole host of information to help you and your family enjoy the South East's rich rural landscape.
Cycling in Sussex: Off-Road Trails & Quiet Lanes is a guidebook of 20 cycle routes between 4km and 28km. It is ideal for the leisure cyclist, family rider and occasional mountain biker. Written by local family cyclists, the rides are clearly described using step-by-step instructions and feature original maps, route profiles and local area information.
The book is illustrated with inspirational and inviting photography of the rides and the local areas. Routes use quiet country lanes, dedicated cycle paths and the more amenable off-road riding in the area. Explore rural idylls and ride through fine agricultural countryside, swooping down deserted country lanes and past many places of interest in East and West Sussex.
Together with information about local railway and seafront trails, the authors have also put together a selection of rides specifically designed for families based on their own personal experiences with their children.