Best foot forward exploring The Great Walks Of Sussex

David Bathurst
David Bathurst

More than a thousand miles on foot lie behind David Bathurst’s new book The Great Walks Of Sussex.

He will be launching it on Nov 8, 7pm at The Book Ferret, Arundel (presentation: tickets 01903 885727); Nov 10, 11am-3pm, Shoreham Art Gallery, Shoreham (signing only); and Nov 17, 11am, Leconfield Hall, Petworth (presentation: tickets 01798 342082).

David is donating all proceeds to the Friends of Sussex Hospices, an organisation which provides essential financial support to both adult and children’s hospices in Sussex.

“I have always loved a good walk, and we in Sussex are blessed with a fantastic network of footpaths. Looking at the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, I was struck by the number of paths that were decorated with green diamonds which denote named long-distance routes, not necessarily starting or finishing in Sussex, but certainly going through. They include the old favourites like the South Downs Way, but also many lesser-known delightful routes. I thought it would be rather fun to walk the Sussex sections.”

David’s idea of fun took root – and has now become the definitive practical and armchair guide to Sussex’s Great Walks, the named waymarked long-distance footpaths with more than 12 miles of their length within East Sussex, West Sussex and/or Brighton & Hove.

A big part of the pleasure, as David says, is in their variety – from the gentle and undemanding Cuckoo Trail and Royal Military Canal Path to the strenuous but spectacular South Downs Way and what is now the longest name path wholly within Sussex, the 204 miles of the Sussex Hospices Trail.

David’s promise is that every single one of the 19 paths listed in the book passes through magnificent countryside. Between them they offer the chance to access all of the major scenic and historic highlights of Sussex, plus plenty of lesser-known places of great interest.

“On the whole, they are pretty easy to follow. I would say that the South Downs Way you could even follow without a map because the signage is so good, but one or two of the East Sussex routes, such as the Vanguard Way, the signage is a bit patchy in places.

“The Downs Link is another example of a route which is very well signed. Usually the routes have their own little logo.

“I think the South Downs Way is the only one that is a national trail and maintained through funds provided centrally.”

A couple of others were founded by specific people. At one point, David had worked even worked out his own Great Walk of Sussex: “But the big obstacles are getting permission to get it waymarked and also getting word of it out there. It is not impossible, but it is difficult.

“The most recently named long-distance footpath is the Sussex Hospices Trail. It involved an enormous amount of work by the Friends of Sussex Hospices. But it has quickly established itself within the family of Sussex Great Walks.”

David’s book fully describes each featured walk from end to end. The Good To Know section after each description then provides everything you need to know in planning your walk, whatever your age or walking ability.

The book is fully illustrated with maps and photographs.

Copies available also at Steyning Bookshop and St Olave’s Bookshop, and Kim’s Bookshop, Chichester; it is also from David directly on £15.