Walking in Sussex
East and West Sussex offer a fascinating choice of landscapes in which to walk, each full of associations with English history to add interest along the way. The coast, now with a string of holiday resorts along its length, has seen many an attempted invasion, and many castles both Roman, medieval and Norman, bear witness to its defence.
Behind the coast lie the South Downs, a chalk Ridgeway of sweeping grassy slopes, home to Southdown sheep and the location of an ancient route, The south Downs Way, walked by Stone age man. This natural barrier is cut by several lovely river valleys such as the Arun, Ouse and Cuckmere, which attract wildlife and anglers and provide some idyllic waterside walking.
On the north facing side of the South Downs a steep escarpment drops into the Vale of Sussex. Beyond, northwards lies The Weald, once an impenetrable forest growing on the Wealden clay, now an affluent countryside filled with glorious woods, pretty villages, orchards and hop farms with their characteristic conical oast-houses.
Deep in the heart of the West Sussex Downs, the quiet and unspoilt village of East Dean is tucked away at the upper end of the valley of the River Lavant, a winterbourne stream, dry in summer but liable to dramatic flooding in a wet winter when the footpath across the valley can become temporarily impassable. The village, built largely of flint, consists of little more than a cluster of church, pub, farm and a handful of cottages gathered around the small village green and pond.
A Walk from East Dean [SU 904130] OS Maps: Explorer™ 121
This walk climbs up onto North Down above the village with fine views to Levin Down and St Roche's Hill before circling north to enter Charlton Forest, an extensive area of mixed woodland covering much of the dip slope of the Downs in this area. The walk penetrates into the forest as far as East Dean Wood (GR SU904149) before leaving the forest along a parallel path and descending back to East Dean. About 4.5 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
Star and Garter, East Dean Tel: 01243 811318 (Good Pub Guide)
This welcoming pub is housed in a solid foursquare two storey flint building dating from 1750. The spacious bar opens onto a small area reserved for diners. The high ceiling, big windows and uncluttered walls give a light and airy feel. At the rear are a patio and garden. Bar meals include filled baguettes and ploughman's, but the imaginative menu may also include things like crab and sherry bake, chicken with herb crust or duck breast with stilton and port. There is also a shellfish bar.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Strolls in West Sussex' by Ben Perkins
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