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Best Wintry Walks in East Sussex Revealed by the National Trust

Photo Credit: NT Rob Strothard

Photo Credit: NT Rob Strothard

The National Trust has revealed some of the best places for wintry walks in East Sussex from Boxing Day onwards.

Following the excitement of Christmas Day, 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 from Boxing Day onwards, 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 special guided walks on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, 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:

Bateman’s

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.

Garden, tea room and shop open 11am-4pm daily, house open 11.30am-3.30pm between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Boxing Day walk and breakfast 10am-12pm, New Year’s Day walk and breakfast 11am-1pm. All tickets £17.50 per person, booking essential on 01435 882302

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

Birling Gap

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, except Boxing Day and New Year’s Day when the opening times are 10am-3pm.

Bodiam Castle

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.

On Boxing Day morning join a guided tour of the grounds to have the castle all to yourself before it opens to visitors, and end the stroll with breakfast snacks in the tea room.

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. Boxing Day walk with breakfast bap and hot drink, Saturday 26 December 9am-10.15am. All tickets £15 per person, booking essential on 01580 831324. 

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. 

New Year’s Day holly hike, 11am-1pm, £6 per person with booking recommended on 01825 790231 

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.

On Boxing Day, join the head gardener on a guided walk of some of the estate’s special areas, including Hollybush woodland.  Part of the Forest Ridge of the High Weald and one of the most wooded areas in Britain, Hollybush is home to a large collection of ancient trees, one of which is said to be rarer than a Giant Panda. On New Year’s Eve a guided woodland walk will help to blow the festive cobwebs away and start the New Year refreshed.

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.

Garden, shop and Barn Café open 10am-4pm, house open 11am-3pm between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. 

Boxing Day stroll, Saturday 26 December, 12pm-1pm. New Year’s Eve Woodland Walk, Thursday 31 December, 12pm-1pm. Both walks are free with no booking needed, meet on Goose Green.

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.  

Photo Credit: NT Nadia Mackenzie

Photo Credit: NT Nadia Mackenzie

Don’t forget you can share photos of your own favourite atmospheric winter landscapes and walking adventures with the National Trust:

For the latest news and updates from the National Trust near you, please visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast

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