Blow away the cobwebs with a festive Sussex countryside walk

Sheffield Park Picture: National Trust
Sheffield Park Picture: National Trust

After the chaos of Christmas getting some fresh air and taking in a walk is the perfect way to spend time with the family while walking off those extra calories.

With much of the South Downs National Park in the county, it stretches from Winchester to Eastbourne, there are plenty to choose from many of which mean you can take in properties and parklands owned by the National Trust.

A castle can be a magical place anyway but throw in a mid morning frost or light fog and it can make it all the more spectacular.

Bodiam Castle is a 14th-century moated castle near Robertsbridge in East Sussex and for budding photographers is a stunning subject for pictures.

Alongside the castle there is a WWII pill box stationed just below the moat off the path up from visitor reception. You can stop here and look back to the river and see how the local troops would have had a bird's eye view of the bridge and across the valley to the approaching enemy.

Set in 300 acre estate is Bateman's, known as Kipling’s country it provided a sanctuary for author Rudyard Kipling who lived here, a 17th century house set in the stunning landscape of the Sussex Weald there are three trails you can take.

There is the bracing walk where you could follow in the footsteps of Puck, Kipling's famous character from 'Puck of Pook's hill', explore Bateman's iron industry heritage or take a trip to Burwash village.

The Dudwell’s Farm walk is two and half miles and should take one and half hours. Starting at St Bartholomew's church is ends in the village of Burwash taking in places linked to The Jungle book author.

You can get maps at the visitor’s centre.

In Petworth you can wrap up warm and explore the 700 acre parkland which was landscaped by landscape architect ‘Capability’ Brown.

There are a number of walks you can enjoy a three mile wander discovering the parkland sculpted by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, with breathtaking views over the park to distant hills towards the South Downs.

A chance to explore the ancient woodland where you can see an ancient oak that's 940 years old or the The Pleasure Grounds at Petworth inspired by the landscape architect.

From proud bare trees, misty views, winter berries and snowdrops that signal warmer days of spring

to come, there’s still plenty of life outdoors at Petworth.

The trees may be bare but it’s all the better to see their structural forms. Some of the ancient trees are nearly 1,000 years old and coupled with hazy mist, scenes of the pond and the ever-present mansion, a visit into the park offers views of timeless elegance.

|t Sheffield Park and Garden there is a 1.5 miles circular walk that takes you past Ringwoof Roll natural playtrail or you can venture further out and head down to the River Ouse or take in the historic Pulham falls a unique and world-renowned collection of trees.

For fans of nature Nymans has a winter walk at the south end of the garden filled with witch hazels and daphnes. Nymans is packed with colour and scent, even in the depths of winter. The Winter Walk is filled with flowers and delicious fragrance from hellebores, electric-blue pulmonaria, daphne and wintersweet.

The Heather Garden is brimming with honey-scented blooms in shades of red, white and pink, and from January snowdrops appear in the walled garden.

A downloadable walk takes visitors into the ancient woods and valley beyond the garden, to explore hundreds of years of woodland history. Follow medieval tracks to towering redwoods, lakes, and beautiful cascades.

Step out and enjoy big skies and coastal landscapes. Spectacular views of the Seven Sisters make for a wonderful winter wander, and if you feel like a longer stroll, join the South Downs Way over the Seven Sisters hills to really stretch your legs. For a more secluded walk, venture inland at Birling Gap or Crowlink and enjoy searching for signs of wildlife.

Or you can explore the South Downs Way, there is 100 miles, with 3,300km of footpaths, bridleways and byways including old railway lines

Walking the dog. Walking off lunch. Walking the 100 miles of the South Downs Way. Whatever your reasons for stepping foot on the South Downs, there’s a route that’s right for you. In fact there are more routes here than in any other National Park in the UK – 3,300km of footpaths, bridleways and byways in total.

Trails on the South Downs National PArk website include a walk discovering Plumpton or Lewes and Southease.

And can be found here

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