Sussex Border Path - from Rye to Cousley Woods

Sussex Border Path start in Rye

The start of the Sussex Border Path sees you follow the River Rother inland for around 6 miles. The terrain varies slightly with most of it being longish grass covering slightly rutted mud. Fortunately the 2 times I've done this section the mud has been dry and there's been no dew in the grass. It's largely runnable for the first 3 miles before you'll start to hit some overgrown sections of nettles and longer grass that you need to tread through carefully.

Eventually you'll hit a road with a stile on the other side that takes you further down to the side of the river but this is where we divert away and head west down the road for a short while. You'll eventually reach a house on the left hand side of the road which has a somewhat hidden stile opposite it which you need to take. This goes through a very small bit of woodland before another stile takes you up the first bit of climbing up and through a very large field, about a half kilometre across. In the summer months you may come across some tall arable plants but both my attempts have come across a largely empty field covered in short grass. The path across isn't all that clear so I'm not sure this path is taken all that often. When you're going through the field you just need to aim for the right hand side of the clump of trees at the peak of the hill then follow in the same direction down the other side of the field towards the farm buildings. Once you get to the farm buildings there's another hidden stile which follows the straight path you've taken. This has lots of overgrown brambles coming at you from every direction.

You head across the first small field before climbing another stile which takes you to a larger field which both times was occupied by cows who didn't seem to mind my presence (i.e. I wasn't chased). You need to head straight across towards the fence and follow the left hand side of the fence until you reach another stile at the far end of the field.

Here you'll come across a completely overgrown path to your right which I believe is the actual Sussex Border Path. I took this path the first time and got stung by nettles and scratched my brambles. My second attempt I followed the path slightly to the left which has been trampled down by other walkers which eventually leads you to a barb wire fence which you need to climb over. If you take the latter route you'll see the small bridge that you should go over if you follow the overgrown path. Cross diagonally the field. The first time I did the route the field had been recently ploughed and there was no obvious path across but the second time the footpath had been driven over in a tractor or car which gave a much nicer surface to walk along.

Over the stile and another field, keep to the right of here but don't go through the bushes to the right. You'll eventually hit a fence but to your right is another stile which takes you across a field towards some trees. Head straight to the trees, you should see a footpath marker on the floor by the trees which then points you to the right where you'll find another stile next to the small pond. Over the stile and you need to go diagonally across the field. The first time I came through this had a lot of cows blocking the path so I took a wide birth as they didn't seem to keen on my presence. Over another stile and in to some woodland.

8 miles in and we've already gone through a lot of gates and stiles. This really doesn't let up either.

Once you're out the woodland keep left of the field and follow it around the corner. Eventually a hole opens up on the left hand side where you have a gate to go through. Keep to the right of this field and head towards the houses ahead. At the road, climb the stile and head right up the hill.

You're not on the road long before you take a left up in to a small business/industrial place. Go through the gate and keep left down the track. This track is reasonably good underfoot and largely downhill so a good opportunity to get some decent running in. You'll eventually come across a small gate which you'll need to go through and head straight across the field, note that there are other footpath signs but you need to go straight across here. There were temporary wire fences up to keep the sheep out the woods, you just need to climb over this. Through the trees you should be able to see a gate which leads you in to a field. Once you're in this field you should see a large tree straight ahead that sticks out like a sore thumb. Run towards it but keep to the left, keep that orientation and you'll come to the fence which has a gate. Go through the gate and go diagonally to the right across this small bit of lawn through another gate.

Keep to the left of the field until you get to the gate next to the road. This road can be very busy so be careful, you need to head right down this road about 60 yards before crossing in to the water treatment driveway. Head down the driveway until you reach the hedgerow on the right where you'll see a gate. Go through the gate and you'll see another gate straight ahead of you. Go through this and you'll find yourself in a horrible plastics/glass fibre place. This is the first place I got lost on and even went the wrong way on my second attempt too. You need to head past the building but keep an eye on the chain fencing to your left. It's not clear but there is a path down here which is overgrown in parts. You follow this path going round the sewage treatment place (which smells absolutely horrendous).

You then have a pretty straight-forward (but overgrown) path which takes you through a small wild orchard until you reach the road in Beckley. There's not really much here other than houses. Once you reach the road head right past the village centre and a few driveways. Keep an eye out as it's easy to miss but there's a large metal gate which you need to open to follow the path. Follow this path until you hit another gate, go through the gate and you're in the corner of a field. Again the first time I came through here the field had been ploughed with no obvious path so I ended up going around the perimetre of the field but the actual path is diagonally across to the other corner. Follow the path to the right around the trees/hedges and over the stile. Head across the field to the buildings keeping between the 2 fences. Climb the stile in the to the right then head to the right of the large car gate and climb the stile.

Follow the road to the right and at the triangle keep left and continue to follow the road for around 50 yards before you reach a gate on your right. Follow this path down the hill keeping to the right. Through another gate, down the hill keeping to the left of this field then another gate.

In this field head straight across the field to a stile and through the woods. Once you're out of the woods go straight across the field to the hedge that sticks out. This path was quite clear when I did it but that's not to say it won't be throughout the year. Go through the hedgerow and keep right of the next field until the hedgerow dog-legs to the right. At this point you need to take the diagonal path across the field to the opposite corner. Then in the next field, keep to the right of the field and head towards the opposite corner by the houses. Over the stile and follow the road down to the main road. You're now in Northiam at approximately 11 miles. There is a cafe that you pass that does pastries and drinks called Will's Cafe.

Head right down the road past the cafe. Opposite the Northiam Surgery head left down the gravel driveway. You then need to keep left at the field which takes you in to some woodland before coming out in to another field where you'll need to keep to the right for a short while before you head straight across the field before dog-legging it left down the hill. These paths both looked very well worn when I went through so should be quite clear. At the bottom of the hill go through the narrow gap in the hedge (bramble alert) and follow the path to the right which brings you down a narrow path to the side of a house. At the other end of the path cross the road and through the gate in to the next field. Keep largely to the left but ignore the first turning to the left. Once you're getting close to the end of the field there's a gate to your left. There aren't any Sussex Border Path signs on this sign of the gate but if you go through the gate and look back you'll see them for the opposite direction. Once through keep right and head for the corner.

Through a short bit of woodland you'll end up in a big field with no obvious path, from the gate just head straight across it and you'll find a stile in to some more woodland. Once you're out the woodland you need to go diagonally across another big field aiming for the corner of the hedgerow across from you. To the left of this is another stile that you need to go over. Keep to the left of this field and climb the hidden stile at the far end. This brings you out on to another road, head right up the hill for a very short bit before crossing the road and heading through the gates. Once in this field keep to the right of the field and go up the hill. At the top of the field climb the stile/bridge in to another field. This time go left and follow the path to the far end before squeezing through the hedge. Once through the small gap head right up the hill.

At the top of this hill you'll hit Ewhurst Green with the first opportunity of a proper stop at a pub at the White Dog Inn. I believe food is generally served between 12-2pm and again between 5-9pm but remains open for drinks between those hours.

Once you're out the field, head left down the road past the pub. You'll continue on the road for a short while before taking a right through a gate at the top of a hill where you may get a lovely view of Bodiam Castle in the distance which also happens to be our next major destination.

View of Bodiam Castle from Ewhurst Green

Head down the hill keeping to the left and through the gate at the bottom of the field in to the woodland. Once you're out the woodland follow the field down the right and through another gate. At the bottom you'll come across another gate, go through but go right to the corner of the field. Follow the next field keeping left where you'll reach an old farm shed. Go past the shed and to the left you'll need to cross a number of stiles as well as the railway line. Once you're over the railway line and in the next field head right and follow the field around until you reach the bank of the River Rother again. Go up the bank and head left keeping on top of the bank. The bank then goes down a bit which leads you to a gate on to a road. Go right and cross the river. Go through the gate on your right then at the next set of gates take the right hand gate. After about 10 yards at the car park gates head 45 degrees to the left across the gravel driveway of the Bodiam Castle car park. Follow the gravel pathway for a short period until you reach the corner of the path, go diagonally left up the hill towards the castle. Follow this diagonal path until you come back out on to the gravel pathway. Follow the pathway all the way up to the ticket office then head right past the tables and chairs to the corner of the lawn area.

Go through the gate and head up the hill. The actual footpath here is a bit overgrown, you can go through the gap in the hedge on the right and up stick to the left of the field. Both paths take you to the top of the hill. At the top take a slight left to towards the stable area until you hit a small patch of grass, cross the grass and go over the stile. Down the steep hill you'll go over another stile. Follow the field to the right and through a very small annoying gate. Go diagonally down the field in to the opposite cover which brings you out on a road. Head right down the road then almost immediately turn left down the road. Follow this road which very shortly turns right and up hill. Follow this straight forward path for about half mile until you reach the gate. Quite a few dogs at these houses some of which are loose. Despite their barking they are very friendly and will likely come over to you for a stroke at which point they'll go about their business and ignore you.

Through the gate you're on another easy to follow path which brings you up to some stables. At the very top of the climb head left towards the main stables. There's a separate shed to the right which you should head towards. At the shed head right down the hill. At the bottom of the hill head left then follow the path to the right. This path is a bit overgrown but not too bad, just be cautious. Go over the bridge then keep to the right of the field. At the end of the field head left past the silos. Go straight through the farm and past the houses. Once you get towards the road there's a potential footpath that takes you down the side of the field, do NOT take this path. Keep to the road and head left down the hill. Just before the house there's a gate to the right, go through the gate and down the hill.

You'll eventually end up on a small road which you follow for a short while until you read a main road. You need to go slightly right and across this road which can be quite busy.

You're now at The Moor which has a pub called the Eight Bells which is open between 12-9pm.

Head down Pipers Lane which goes to Hensill Lane. This eventually turns in to a track which is frequented by tractors. You'll eventually see some sheds in the distance as well as some white signs for "Public Footpath", follow these otherwise you'll end up in the farmers garden. Keep to the right of the field you end up in. Once you're in the next field, go diagonally across to the opposite corner and head right through to the next field, keep to the left of this field and through the trees. Keep left here and take the straight path through the large orchard. It's not clearly sign-posted but you need to at some point go to the right of the hedgerow otherwise you'll hit a dead-end. Follow the footpath through the woodland and go straight across the field. Once you have crossed the field there's gate, don't take this gate but continue right sticking to the edge of the field where you'll find another gate. Go through this gate and diagonally across the field. You'll then need to follow the windy path which is quite easy to follow through some woodland and several fields. You'll eventually end up seemingly in someones back garden. Don't go in the garden but go to the left towards the shed keeping the hedgerow to your right. Go through the shed area and left down the gravel driveway. At the end of the driveway head right down the road and follow this round to the left. Follow the footpath to the left of the field where you'll need to cut through the hedgerow to the left and diagonally across a field. Follow the footpath through a couple more fields which tend to have horses and cows in. You'll eventually end up on a very busy road which is the A21.

Head right down the footpath for a short way. You'll need to cross the road although it's not immediately obvious where the footpath is. Keep an eye out for driveways on the other side of the road, just to the right of one of them is a footpath sign. You need to cross here and squeeze through the gap to follow the footpath.

Follow this footpath where you'll eventually reach some very large gates to house, keep to the right and climb the stile. Follow the path down the side of the house. You'll go through a couple of fields, keep the trees and hedgerows to your right. At the top of one of the fields you'll reach a stile, go over the stile in to the woodland. You then go downhill through the woodland pretty much back on yourself. The path eventually goes up hill and takes you out on to a golf course. Head left across the golf course, aiming for the far right corner beyond the green where there's a stile in the corner.

Follow this path for a short while and head left down the footpath which brings you out to some buildings before climbing a short hill which takes you to a main road in Flimwell. If you're really hungry/thirsty you can take a 500metre detour to your right and the left down the hill to the Royal Oak Pub which is open lunch to midnight.

Once you reach the main road, cross the road and head left for a short while before taking the footpath to the right down the hill. Climb over the stile and through the woods which eventually brings you out to a road next to Bewl Water.

Bewl Water

Head right down the road for a 50 yards before heading left in to Bewl Water. This is a nice wide path and follows the reservoir. It undulates a little bit but is largely a good place to get some running in.

Bewl Water

You'll eventually reach the dam, head straight across this and go through the gate and head left and up the first set of stairs. At the top of the stairs head right up the road. Go past the building on your right and follow the road up to the left. Take a left before the main road and ticket office by the car park and follow this. You'll eventually reach a coach park which has 2 working taps where you can fill up with water. There is also a bistro/restaurant here but I'm uncertain of the opening times. Go through the coach park and turn right on to the main road then left.

Bewl Water

Follow this path past a few houses where you'll eventually take the road to your left. This takes you out on to a footpath through some trees which follow the edge of the reservoir. Follow this path for about a couple of miles, keeping an eye on the reservoir to your left. Eventually you'll noticed the reservoir getting smaller and smaller. When you get to the end of the reservoir about 50 yards further on you need to take a hard right up a steep hill. Follow the footpaths along the fields and you'll end up in Cousley Woods. Follow the footpath to the left and on to the road.

There's a pub here called the Old Vine which is open between 12-10pm. Next door is a car dealership which apparently has a tap available but I couldn't see if while having a quick look.

You need to head down the road for a short while before taking a footpath to your right once the houses start to dissipate.