Get Some Exercise On The Cuckoo Trail, East Sussex
With the current lockdown continuing for the time being, you may have already developed your own daily exercise regime to keep you fit (and sane!). Although this clearly won't entail going to your local gym at the moment, you may already be working out at home, going out for a long walk or taking a ride out on your bicycle.
So, if you haven't considered it, or don't know about it, why not make use of your free time with a ride along the East Sussex Cuckoo Trail?
So, if the weather's good and you're in the mood for a day of activity whilst surrounded by the very best that nature has to offer, this is our top tip for residents of East Sussex.
On the Cuckoo Trail, there's no shortage of things to see and it'll also give you the opportunity of spending some much-needed time away from home whilst still spending time with the rest of the family if you're all normally cooped up indoors together.
In case you've never heard of 'The Cuckoo Trail', it's a 14-mile (23 km) stretch of largely disused railway line which has now been converted into a footpath and cycleway that runs from Hampden Park to Heathfield, East Sussex. It passes through Polegate and Hailsham, as well as the villages of Hellingly and Horam. Whilst suitable for dog walkers and cyclists, you may also see horse riders between Ersham Road, Hailsham and Hampden Park.
About The Sussex Cuckoo Trail
The Cuckoo Trail got its name from the tradition that the first cuckoo in Spring was heard at the Heathfield Fair. Essentially, the trail follows the route of a now-defunct railway line that ran from Eridge and Polegate railway stations, which created a direct route between Eastbourne and London. The railway line opened in 1880 but eventually closed in 1968 due to a programme of proposed financial cuts put forward by British Transport Commission Chairman Richard Beeching, which commonly became known as the 'Beeching Cuts'. The Cuckoo Line was deemed to be one of the underperformers, which ultimately led to its demise.
A Phoenix from ashes
The loss of the Cuckoo line to UK railway network turned out to be a big gain for the local community in a different kind of way. It was bought by Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council 1981 and, over time, was developed into a beautiful track that is now enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike. Around 200,000 people are said to use the Cuckoo Trail each year, including schoolkids who can make their way to school in a traffic-free and beautiful environment. It's also part of the National Cycle Network Route 21 and was extended slightly so that it now runs right into Eastbourne.
What can you see along the route?
The Cuckoo Trail can be enjoyed all year round and is teeming with a smorgasbord of stunning plants and wildlife. In some places, the trees have been cut back slightly so that the sun can reach the ground. This allows an array of wildflowers to flourish, including wild orchids in early summer. In May, you're likely to see orange-tip butterflies, and if you're a birdwatcher, you might even see the odd bullfinch, lesser whitethroat or even a cuckoo or a woodpecker.
Nowadays, there aren't many places where you can find wild garlic when you go out for a stroll, but you may well find some fresh, organic garlic if you keep your eyes peeled on the Cuckoo Trail between Horam and Hellingley. If you don't see it, you'll still probably be able to detect it due to its wonderful aroma!
The Trail also has plenty of places where you can have a quick rest. Take the weight off your feet with the many benches and picnic tables that are dotted along the route. You'll also pass plenty of wood and steel sculptures on your travels and you can also take a moment to marvel at the Victorian's supreme arch bridge-building skills. One of the best examples is the Heathfield Tunnel, which is only open during the summer months.
All in all, the Cuckoo Trail is a must-visit if you live in Sussex and need a change from your current exercise regime!