Our friends Mark & Linda invested in a Motorhome, a Swift Kon-Kiki, I hope you are impressed I know what model it is !?! They have been on a number weekends away (why wouldn’t you) but the Cuckoo Trail is one they have been to a couple of times before and they thought we’d enjoy the walking there too. So we had been in discussions over dates to go, last weekend although early in the season and with the threat of cold weather, we decided to get away for Geoffs birthday. So the four of us set off Friday late afternoon in their motorhome, bit of a worry as Marks first words were ‘hope we all get on, close quarters and all that’. Yes we did, yes we are still friends and yes we are planning more breaks.
We stayed at the very nice Horam Manor Park, good spacious showers underfloor heating..a bonus) and clean toilets and a well maintained site, these things matter when you are ‘sort of’ camping.
Following a surprising good nights sleep in the motorhome (one never knows) we woke to a crisp cold morning and following a quick chilly dash to the showers tucked into delicious porridge followed by bacon sandwiches and then set off on the Cuckoo Trail. You can hop on and off this walk at various points as it follows a disused railway line from Heathfield to Polegate. The plan was to walk around 12 miles in total.
When we set off it was still cold but bright and sunny, its a clear path through woods and although winter still interesting, I’m sure its very pretty in summer. The weather turned about 7 or 8 miles into the walk and the rain arrived, not great.. but not enough to turn around, so we headed on to Polegate, spurred on by the thought of a pub lunch and the option to catch the local bus back to Horam. However, the pub ended up as a Harvester, rather than a quaint country pub but it was okay ‘does what it says on the tin as they say’. Rested and refreshed we decided to start walking back as far as we felt we could then catch a bus… we walked and walked and walked until it was too far into the walk and no appropriate point to catch a bus. At 16 miles is starts to become a bit of a slog and less of a pleasant walk in the woods, each bend ahead you start to hope that its the last one and Horam will appear, it took a while before it did. Mark said we should all be very satisfied we’d achieved an 18 mile walk….. Mmmmm….
Our 18miles took us past/through the old stations: Horam, Burlow, Hellingly, Horsebridge, Hailsham, Mulbrook and Polegate. You can actually walk another 6-8 miles to Eastbourne but that’s for another time. There was an old station at one point, now a house, that would have made a lovely café as it still had the platform and fancy wood edging along the roof. (Sorry can’t find a picture)
A little history about the Cuckoo Trail:
The Cuckoo Trail is now owned by Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council but was not originally built as a leisure facility.
Opened in 1880, the Cuckoo Line was the Polegate to Eridge railway built by the London Brighton and South Coast Railway to prevent its rival, the South Eastern Railway, accessing the Eastbourne traffic. It was named the Cuckoo Line after the tradition that the first cuckoo of spring was always heard at the Heathfield Fair. In time it settled down to become a country railway carrying milk, coal, livestock and timber as well as passengers.
Since 1990, the Cuckoo Trail has been a leisure route used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It passes through some beautiful countryside and is extremely popular with some 250,000 visitors annually. Being mainly off-road it is suitable and safe for people of all ages and abilities. The slight gradients and sloped accesses make the Trail available to most mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
Makes for a lovely walk, get out there and have a stroll …