The National Trust has revealed some of the best places for wintry walks in East Sussex. It’s the perfect time to burn off some festive calories, catch up with friends and family, or plan New Year’s resolutions whilst enjoying an exhilarating walk.
Many of the beautiful gardens and countryside spaces the National Trust cares for in East Sussex are open in winter, offering the perfect opportunity for winter walks in picture-postcard landscapes. Wrap up warm and experience some outdoor delights from avenues of frost-covered topiary and borders packed with sensational colour, to ice-rimmed lakes, windswept beaches, blustery coastal paths and breath-taking vistas.
With walking trails throughout winter and a whole host of special places open in January, some of our favourite walking hot spots in East Sussex are:
With whirls of rolling mist and frost glistening on the neatly clipped hedges, Rudyard Kipling’s English country garden is transformed in winter. Pick up an estate walking leaflet to take in the spirit of this special place on three walks – Puck’s Walk follows famous characters from Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill published in 1906, ironmaster’s walk takes in the local history of iron production in the area and the Dudwell Farm walk winds through Bateman’s estate and the local village of Burwash.
Follow in Kipling’s footsteps with either a guided Boxing Day or New Year’s Day walk. Start the day with a hearty English breakfast before a gentle walk through the fields, hills and woodlands of the Bateman’s estate on Boxing Day or a more invigorating ramble on New Year’s Day around the beautiful Wealden landscape, with the head gardener highlighting some of the best views.
Indoors in January, the exhibition Books for Boys celebrates the golden age of children’s literature during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Books from some of the period’s best-loved authors are displayed alongside toys and games.
Books for Boys exhibition daily between Friday 1 January and Sunday 28 February, 11.30am-3.30pm, normal admission charges apply, house closed. In January the garden, shop and tea room open daily between 10am – 5pm, house closed
Stunning winter light dances over the sea at sunrise and sunset, whilst winter visiting birds, peregrines and fulmars can be spotted during a bracing daytime cliff top walk, over the Seven Sisters downland or along the beach. There are excellent photo opportunities of sea birds, wildlife and winter seascapes all along the Seven Sisters and in particular from the viewing platform next to the café.
Countryside and coast open daily dawn until dusk throughout winter. Cafe and shop open 10am-4pm
Wander the grounds and see the castle in all its winter beauty or try the audio adventure, A Knight’s Peril, in a frosty landscape. On weekdays, join a medieval character for hourly guided tours inside the castle walls, alternating between high status spaces like the Great Hall and low status spaces like the kitchen. At weekends explore the castle at your leisure with medieval characters on hand to bring the medieval world to life.
Throughout winter – castle grounds, tea room and shop 10am-5pm or dusk if earlier (castle open from 10.30am). Medieval character tours run on the hour weekdays only, 11am-3pm.
Sheffield Park and Garden
With its reflective lakes and impressive tree collection from around the world, Sheffield Park is particularly beautiful in winter. After the leaves fall, the garden gives way to dramatic winter vistas and the lakes are transformed by mist, frost and ice.
Adding to the sculptural forms of the trees in winter, a series of willow shapes and frames are dotted around the garden as part of A Winter’s Trail.
Explore the lesser-known parts of the estate on a guided hike on New Year’s Day. One of the longest serving members of the team will add colour to the history of the garden, its owners and their legacies – you won’t find any of these stories in any guide book.
Parkland open daily from dawn until dusk. Garden, tea room and shop open 10am-4pm daily between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and throughout January. A Winter’s Trail runs until Sunday 31 January, £1 per trail.
Standen House and Garden
With the trees laid bare the formation of the Arts & Crafts inspired hillside garden is revealed each winter. Perched at the top of the garden, the new viewing platform on Rock Top Walk provides the perfect vantage point for views of the garden and dramatic wintery scenery over the High Weald, Ashdown Forest and East Grinstead. Additional woodland walking guides can be picked up from visitor reception.
Throughout January, see areas of the house not normally open to the public – including the cellar and water tower – on a behind closed doors tour.
During January the garden, shop and Barn Café open 10am-4pm. The house is open weekends in January between 11am-3pm (last entry at 2.30pm). Entry to the house mid-week as part of a behind closed door tours only. Behind closed doors tours run Monday-Friday from 4 January to 29 January, every 30 minutes from 11am-2.30pm. Places limited to ten people per tour.
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