Forest foraging and wine tasting at Eastbourne and Wealden walking festival

Walking to Beachy Head. Photo courtesy of VisitEastbourne SUS-151009-085917001
Walking to Beachy Head. Photo courtesy of VisitEastbourne SUS-151009-085917001

Enjoy some forest foraging, Nordic walks, wine tasting and Sussex history at a walking festival this month.

The Coast and Country Walking Festival offers more than 50 organised walks in Eastbourne and the Wealden area throughout the nine day festival aimed at walkers of varying ages, abilities and interests.

Visitors can venture into the stunning Sussex countryside which surrounds much of Eastbourne and the Wealden area. From wild forest food foraging, navigation techniques, wine tasting and a celebration of ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller’s life, there is a walk to suit everyone.

The nine-day festival which runs from 26 September to October 4 covers routes around Eastbourne and the breath-taking South Downs National Park, the enchanting High Weald of Sussex and the wild and wonderful Ashdown Forest.

The festival offers most of the walks for free and visitors can look forward to numerous Nordic walks for people of different experience levels; including a Nordic walk to the mysterious hillside figure of the Long Man of Wilmington, a Nordic Walking Taster Session on easier terrain in Forest Row and an energetic exploration of the Seven Sisters from East Dean to Birling Gap for more advanced Nordic walkers.

Deputy Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council and keen rambler, Cllr Gill Mattock said, “The festival really emphasises the variety of walks and activities on offer on Eastbourne’s coast and the surrounding countryside.

“The festival’s programme offers historical, literary, Nordic and walks of many more kinds with all walks aiming to promote an active and healthy lifestyle whilst showing off the enchanting natural beauty of the Sussex countryside in autumn.”

A historic highlight of the festival is Jack Fuller’s Waldron, celebrating the notorious Sussex builder Mad Jack Fuller in an amusing and quirky free tour around the follies he created, led by an actor/historian in period costume.

A Forest Foray brings a wild food walk through the woods of Hailsham and Arlington, foraging for fungi, fruits, nuts and medicinal plants, whilst A Photographic Walk Along the Cuckoo Trail allows both camera aces and novices to capture the interesting scenery on offer during a gentle walk along the former railway line in Hailsham.

Sparkling wine lovers can enjoy bubbly on the move on a Fizz on Foot tour exploring nine miles of elegant countryside starting and finishing in the pretty village of Alfriston with a glass of English sparkling wine, whilst real ale drinkers will love the Two Brewery’s Tour; a 15 mile scenic walk to East Dean and Litlington, encompassing tours and tastings at both Beachy Head Brewery and Long Man Brewery.

Less experienced walkers can leave the days of Sat Nav behind and go back to nature walking basics in Navigating the South Downs, with expert tuition from a trained mountain leader.

During the Ranger Walk from Alfriston, a Neolithic Long Barrow tomb awaits to be discovered in this enigmatic downland area of burial mounds and chalk figures.

For a peek into our industrial past, Saxon saltmakers and 20th century ropemakers come to life in Hailsham, while The Making of High Weald is a three mile walk going back 700 years to the medieval landscape around Mayfield. Canal, Paper, Stone near Uckfield also uncovers mysteries around vanished villages, paper mills, lost navigations and a steam railway which never carried a single train.

Lovers of history and mysteries back in Eastbourne’s town centre can go on a tour East of the Pier which details the history of the grade II listed attraction and the old artisan area of town with tales of old Victorian brothel tunnels.

A behind the scenes tour of the Royal Hippodrome Theatre, built in 1883, allows visitors to wander the winding secret passages of the theatre, discovering the scandals which lie within the theatre walls.

A comprehensive, wonderfully illustrated and informative complete guide to the Coast and Country Walking Festival is available from the Eastbourne Tourist Information Centre, free of charge.

Organised by Eastbourne Borough Council and Wealden District Council with support from the South Downs National Park Authority, the festival runs from September 26 to October 4.

To book call 01323 443275 or book online at www.sussexwalkingfestival.org.uk

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